For those of you who have never heard or been to Pattaya, it’s a story straight from the movies. 100KM from Bangkok, it was made famous by Vietnam servicemen coming there on leave. Pattaya is now a popular tourist and retirement destination due to its low-cost compared to many other locals.
The streets are lined with “hawkers” pushing everything from laser pens, bobbing parrot toys, flowers, and £2 dresses. The constant barrage can become quite tiresome. Street food carts are everywhere, selling anything from traditional Thai food of chicken/rice to freshly caught fish that are cooking on back of the bike. If you are brave enough you can even try deep-fried grasshoppers (no thanks). This of course is on the back-drop of 100s of “friendly” women coaxing you into “their” bars.
As a business owner, I am constantly analyzing. It’s how I am wired. This is regardless of whether I am watching movies, TV, or enjoying these “colorful” sights. I was there, visiting two clients, this month. Yes, they are actually living there and yes, they actually exist …really!
With so many of the same wares being pushed and with so many bars, each offering “women and song,” how can one possibly stand out and have a chance to compete? How can a business, whether it is a one-man walking shop or a bar, differentiate itself and have a chance to make money? Yes, that is actually what I was thinking.
Where else can you be in 30© degree heat and walk into a freezer, have a coat waiting for you and a man in a polar bear outfit, to have an “ice cold shot.” The Ice Bar is there and while not a long-term hangout, definitely something different!
They have always said that sales is a numbers game. Someone is buying all those lasers, beads, bracelets, and bobbing parrots from the vendors. It’s just a matter of how many people the street vendor has to walk up to and ask. Some are extremely friendly, some just go through the motions. I have to assume the friendly ones do better. One last thought; the more friendly and engaging someone was, the more likely I would buy from them. There was this “cutest” little 6 year-old girl selling neon bracelets and I would seek her out just to buy from her. Her smile and laugh was contagious. She was really and truly having a good time getting the tourists to cough up 20 Baht (60 cents) for something that cost her 3 baht (9 cents). Much better than the vendors just shoving something in your face and avoiding eye contact!
Most of the time I would say no without even knowing what the guy was selling.
There is an important lesson here for the salesman: “Just because someone says no, it doesn’t mean it’s over …the sale is just starting.” I had no idea 90% of the time what they were holding. I was just so accustomed to being approached and aggravated …that it was a normal response. An experienced sales person knows this and it is an important reminder.
I listened as she constantly told her “girls” make sure you smile. Nothing worse than walking into a bar and seeing scowls on faces. In addition, cold ice sheets for your face and neck were always available everywhere you went.
Every restaurant, bar or hotel that you entered, greeting you–there was always the traditional Thai greeting with hands pressed and a slight bow.
If you add all this together and think for a moment, Thailand is a well oiled machine designed to let the traveler experience the sights, smells, and sounds of a unique culture. As always, it’s up to you to take from it what you want.