Fascinating new study gives insight into how Hua Hin and the ‘Royal Coast’ is perceived by tourists

Tourists on Hua Hin Beach. File Photo

Tourists perceive Hua Hin and the Royal Coast region to be a peaceful and relaxing destination with a beautiful natural environment, according to a recent study conducted by students at Stamford International University.

The study titled Destination Marketing Project by the Royal Coast Riviera Club and Stamford International University, was presented by Richard Meaders, Senior Director of Academic Affairs, aimed to assist in trying to understand how the ‘Royal Coast’ brand is currently perceived.

The insights gathered from the study will aid in promoting sustainable development by attracting high-quality residents, domestic and international tourists, and long-term visitors.

The study comprised two main phases: qualitative research and quantitative research. In the qualitative phase, 20 participants, consisting of 10 international and 10 Thai nationals familiar with Thailand, shared their perceptions of Hua Hin and the Royal Coast region compared to other destinations in Thailand, namely Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai.

The results highlighted peacefulness as a core strength, with respondents associating Hua Hin with tranquility and relaxation. Maintaining this positioning emerged as a key strategy for the region.

Richard Meaders, Senior Director of Academic Affairs, Stamford International University at the Royal Coast Riviera Club.

For the quantitative research, a larger sample size of 153 participants, comprising 66 international and 87 Thai respondents, was surveyed. This sample was further divided by age, with 77 people over 35 and 75 people under 35 taking part in the study.

The study revealed several key insights regarding people’s perceptions of the Royal Coast region.

The beauty of the natural environment emerged as a strong motivator for visiting or staying in the area.

However, the results showed that the region lags behind Chiang Mai and Phuket in terms of this attribute.

To address this, the strategy recommended is to enhance the perception of the Royal Coast as a beautiful natural destination, either by improving the aesthetics or through effective communication of existing natural attractions.

Another significant aspect of the study focused on the quality of activities and attractions in Hua Hin.

While respondents rated this factor as highly important, they perceived the region as falling behind Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Bangkok in this regard.

People just generally don’t know about all attractions or natural points of interest the region has to offer.

The study suggests that the issue might be a lack of awareness rather than an actual deficiency in the region’s offerings.

Thus, the proposed strategy is to improve communication to make visitors more aware of the existing attractions and activities, potentially changing their perceptions.

By doing so, the perception of Hua Hin and the region’s offerings can be raised, without compromising its image as a peaceful and relaxing destination.

The study also explored the perception of the cost of visiting the Royal Coast region.

It was found that the Royal Coast is perceived as the most affordable among the destinations considered.

However, since the region is known for its luxury appeal rather than being a low-cost destination, caution was advised when discussing price.

Despite this, the study suggests leveraging the perception of value for money, especially for price-sensitive market segments.

By emphasizing that the Royal Coast offers affordability and ease of access compared to other options, the strategy aims to reinforce the region’s current perception as both peaceful and the most affordable.

The study’s findings also revealed that the ‘Royal Coast’ excels in two key aspects: ‘Family friendliness’ and ‘Health and Wellness services.’

Family friendliness emerged as a top-ranking attribute, already establishing itself as a strength of the ‘Royal Coast’ brand positioning.

The region’s appeal to families can be maintained and reinforced through marketing efforts that highlight its family-friendly amenities and activities.

Additionally, the ‘Royal Coast’ garnered the highest perception for ‘Health and Wellness services,’ a testament to its medical and wellness facilities, spas, sports opportunities, and natural surroundings.

Leveraging this perception in communication efforts can enhance the region’s appeal to health-conscious tourists.

Regarding cultural aspects, the study found room for improvement in perceptions of authentic Thai culture and the quality of food selections.

While Hua Hin ranked lower than Chiang Mai and Bangkok in cultural heritage, it still fared better than Phuket and Pattaya.

A strategy to promote the rich Thai culture and maintain family friendliness is recommended.

Similarly, while respondents reported enjoying the food options in Hua Hin during qualitative interviews, the quantitative results showed that the region ranked behind its competitors in this aspect.

The suggested strategy involves improving perceptions by either offering more food options or emphasizing existing culinary events.

Finally, the recommendations from the study involve maintaining and reinforcing perceptions of Hua Hin and the region’s peacefulness, beauty, family friendliness, and affordability while actively improving perceptions of its cultural heritage, food offerings, and range of activities.

As future research opportunities and collaborations are anticipated, the findings of this pilot study provide a promising direction for the future of the Royal Coast region.

To read the study in full visit: https://www.rcr-club.com/presentations