Tuk Tuk Tours
Explore Bangkok by the iconic tuk tuk
Winter is usually a time when many make a visit to Thailand to escape the cold dark winters in Europe and North America. With warm weather and little rain, it is a perfect escape.
This year is different, and it is a bleak winter all over the world. People can not escape to the warmth of Bangkok, and in many respects, it is also a bleak winter in Bangkok. For those reliant on tourism it is the coldest and sleepiest year on record.
Up to now Thailand has been lucky that within its borders the threat of COVID-19 has been limited when compared to other countries around the world. For those who wanted to escape for a long winter it is actually the perfect country to come to hibernate!
However, with the most recent COVID outbreak it is to be seen the level of impact it will have. For us it added level of uncertainty has further threatened our ability to survive.
To this extent, at Expique we have decided to:
Hibernate in Bangkok, but pivot to the world of content!
To clarify we are still running tours on demand but it is not our main focus.
When COVID-19 first hit we were determined to try and keep as many staff as possible. In hindsight we underestimated how long it would take to recover and how hard it would be to attract locals to tours.
We were not fast enough at re-inventing our business. We have tried many things but have been unable to reach a volume to justify our efforts. During the same time the Thai domestic tourism market has turn into a bargain and discount driven market (compared to international tourists).
In June, when we reopened after the first wave of COVID, we offered free walking tours with the main aim to get work for our guides, and guests were happy to give a good tip to guides in return. We had good success over the first month as people were really keen to get out, but still hesitant to travel around Thailand.
However, gradually more and more tour companies started to offer discounted tours and hotels across Thailand started offering amazing staycation packages. B2B luxury tour operators switched to day tours at a similar price to freelance guides, whom without work set up their own tours for the local market. 5-star hotels started offering deals that made the average hotels look expensive. This is great news for customers, but with price wars going on, it creates further challenges for tourism companies – hotels at least benefit from the governments “We Travel Together” scheme. We offered free walks very soon after COVID, so maybe we ourselves poured fuel on the fire, but the reality is domestic tourism in Thailand (both Expats and Thais) is so much more price sensitive than international tourism.
We have had some fun and some success with pop up tours for Halloween, Loy Krathong and Christmas. However, with the effort we put into each of them, even with 25+ guests for each one, it ain’t enough to survive.
However, with the most recent cases of COVID, there is just so much uncertainty. Vaccinations may be underway in many countries, but there are still no signs of when tourism will return to Thailand.
To this extent we have decided not to focus on running tours for the moment and to completely close down The Market Experience, our workshop space in The Flower Market.
Instead, we will devote more time to focus on other things and new non-tour initiatives.
Note: While in hibernation we will not actively promote or develop new tours but we will run existing tours on demand (see below)
Over the last 7 years we have always consistently added new articles and built up quite a library or articles about exploring Bangkok.
Now is time to update these and expand our content to help people plan trips across the whole of Thailand and beyond. We have ambitious plans and soon will also start publishing content on neighboring countries too. Let’s see how far around the world we can go!
For now, it is content in the form of articles but there are a few more things in the works.
You can check out all our latest articles at www.expique.com/blog and follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get updates of all new ones.
We will be working with several content creators over the next few months, so if you have an interest in writing for us or creative multimedia content, let us know.
For anyone who have visited our base in The Flower Market, you may understand why we love it so much. It has been a really tough decision and probably one we should have made a year ago! However, it is time to say bye bye to The Market Experience and move on to focus our efforts elsewhere.
If anyone does know anyone who would be interested in taking over our workshop space either to continue the business or for a completely new initiative, then let us know. Given we love the space, our main goal is to see it flourish in the future!
Yes! If you want a tour we will still run it. Our heart is still in showing people the beauty of Bangkok and providing amazing experiences.
However, as our focus is elsewhere and we are operating with a reduced team, there is just one requirement. We request bookings 4 days in advance and will not handle last minute bookings.
Honestly, we don’t know how the situation will change. At the moment we are only accepting bookings 1 month in advance. We also offer a full refund if we have to cancel bookings due to COVID outbreaks.
Whether we start focusing on tours again remains to be answered but we are confident that our most popular tours still have a long and successful life ahead of them.
Unfortunately, this does mean that for the foreseeable future we can not support the team that we built pre-COVID. In December 2019 we had 10 full time staff (across our office and cooking school) and about 60 freelance members (including guides, driver, support team). As the owner of a company, our greatest achievement was the team we built and the income we were able to provide, and it is that fact that kept us going and trying in 2020.
We made some cuts last June and now have had to make further cuts. Soon it will just be 2 of us full time at Expique.
However, we have no doubt that a break will be good for us and maybe even open up new opportunities.
Out of the 4 office staff we had to make redundant last year, 2 have new jobs and the other 2 have opened their own business (yes massive to Hamad and Nui for opening a Charoen Krung branch of Gu Roti).
There are still opportunities out there!
Until we see you again, please stay safe and healthy.
Simon and Perasa (Owners of Expique)
Since mid-December 2020, COVID-19 has returned to Thailand (maybe it never went but remained undetected). The majority of cases have been in communities in Samut Sakhon province, but cases have spread all over the country.
While there have been some restrictions enforced, as of February 1, many are being lifted in most parts of Thailand. A limited number of businesses still can not operate, there are some compulsory quarantines between provinces, and there is still a ban on alcohol (we think).
We can run tours under the current situation BUT the reality is things can quickly change!!!
There is still a 14 day quarantine for anyone entering the country and while foreigners can get tourist visas if they are prepared to quarantine, it eliminates most. There are yet to be any announcements of reduced quarantines for people vaccinated.
So the number one experience is not simply going to stop this tour!