August 2016
Poowadee “Aeh” Kunpalin - C.E.O of Chao Praya Cruise Thailand

A Lady Behind Thainess Experience Onboard

“Doing business with my “Heart” is the magnificent ingredient while trying to understand the mind of travelers as to what they really want is vital.”

       Bangkok has grown up with beautiful art, culture, and distinctive tradition for more than two centuries. The city is abundant of valuable tourist destinations, historical and cultural sites waiting to be explored by discerning travelers. The city of angel is also famed for “Venice of the East” given the crisscrossed canals that have been used for transportation and blissful rafts of dinner cruise services available to please your appetite while enjoying charming river views. To achieve a memorable nocturnal experience in Bangkok, so, you can’t be forgiven for forgetting to experience the taste and taste the experience in the spirit of Thainess onboard to complete your journey on exploring Bangkok.
 We sat down with Khun Poowadee “Aeh” Kunpalin, a successful businesswoman and the kingpin who spearheads an amazing accomplishment to Chaophraya Cruise”, the country’s iconic dinner cruise service with truly exotic Thai experience. She dropped her anchor and took her busy time off to enthusiastically and passionately disclose her ideal lifestyle, secretive business perspective, and the reason why dining onboard along the glittering river of kings becomes a must and the key player for enriching your traveling experience and the growth of Thailand’s tourism industry.
How is the commencement of “Chaophraya Cruise”? How did you motivate the cruise business?

Aeh: Basically, my knowledge and educational background are not in sync with tourism business anymore. I finished Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Thammasart University, Bangkok, prior to forthwith pursuing the Master’s degree in finance in the United States. I remembered the earlier working life while the idea of doing the inner-city cruise or even tourism business had never crossed my mind.

 I only thought that I should do some business as my family already ran international freight forward business with its own vessels at the time. It was not until one day I had the chance to enjoy family-get-together dinner cruise. As a person who loves traveling so much, I still remembered I felt that the beauty of Chao Phraya River was unspeakably enthralling as I saw tourists heading towards the dinner cruise were bountiful. Then, such sparked my idea to do dinner cruise and saw a channel to grow my business after consulting with my family members to translate my daydream and love of traveling into a tangible business.

It took quite a certain period of time before getting it right as I tried to adapt my accounting knowledge into doing business at the earlier stage. The key point was that I wished all foreign visitors enjoy the glimpse of Thainess onboard as much as I enjoyed doing the business. It was a crucial time as Thailand was intensively engaged in massive tourism campaign, aiming to enhance inbound tourism and I was lucky enough to get financial and non-financial support from commercial banks for any tourism-related business. It was strategically the right time for me to motivate and steer the family business.

What is your strategy and guiding principle for managing the business?

Aeh: To be honest, just doing with my “Heart” is the magnificent ingredient while trying to understand the mind of travelers as to what they really want is vital. The core element of Chaophraya Cruise is the sense of Thainess that I’ve been continually endeavored to add into it. Simply put, my basic concept is just the saying “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

I always place the importance on the quality of service performed by well-trained software or human resource in order to trigger an ultimate dinning moment. And whenever I traveled abroad and spent time on dinner cruising, I would observe and adopted what is good and emulated for the betterment of my cruise business.

My cruise business has gone through cornucopia of disheartened comments, the barrage of underestimated discussion, and the score of people who disparaged my kind of business. Only time will tell and it’s 10th year now, the success of Chaophraya Cruise has been proven as we are currently the second to none and the wonderful choice when it comes to dinning on the river.

Aside from my heart and passion of doing business, I am also further looking to explore the new foreign market and delve into the customer’s spending behavior. I realize that the element in the market already changed and fluctuated, so we have to strategically change accordingly to maintain the existing customer base and trap more pieces of pie in the market share. I’ve worked nearly non-stop and it’s impossible for this kind of business to take a brake during festive season, making me stronger to challenge with the heap of hinders and able to abruptly disentangle or precipitously solve all unpredictable difficulties as well.

How to deal or tackle with the business problems?

Aeh: Actually, there are lots of glitches and snags while being on the way towards achieving customer satisfaction. What I once though it should be easy theoretically, but it’s not so easy in practice. I felt a bit disconsolate as the business didn’t go as smoothly as the way I planned. Meanwhile, the economy and business environment had been hobbled and paralyzed by perennial political deadlock and unforeseeable natural disaster. I’ve been faced with such difficulties throughout a decade of running the business. After consulting with my team, we found that the number of foreign customers dramatically decreased during the political disruption, affecting the consumer confidence index, so it was a must that we had to immediately revise marketing strategy and launch tempting campaigns to attract customers, depending on the situation.

         Frankly, I would like to contribute the success to my entire workforce, I give them my heart as they are group of engine to help steer the success and growth for the company. All staff are indispensable, dropping anyone behind is definitely no-no. Hence, the business model has to be reviewed periodically so as to be in compliance with the fluctuating market.

I found that Thai people are specially becoming interested in dinner cruise, partly due to our promotional and massive marketing campaign and tailor-made service created to meet the need of all customer groups. As for the natural disaster, I accept that it intermittently happens and is inescapable, but what we can do the best is to face the music and tackle such problem through changing business strategy and adjusting tactic to be in alignment with the wavering investment climate. Furthermore, I regularly told all my staff not to making nag at our competitors, I prefer to let customers decide their favorite choice of dinner cruise and I respect their decision.

Anything to suggest readers about business perspective?

Aeh: We should conduct a thorough feasibility study and understand what we are going to embark on prior to starting business. And don’t forget to leave a space or a room in your heart empty for the possible heartbroken or gloomy business setback as obstacles are not uncommon.

You may fall for sometime, but don’t be discouraged and keep on walking. It’s advisable to have the long-term business planning in mind with the measurable direction and such planning should be realistic.

Getting as much information as possible before deciding to make the first step is quintessentially fundamental. And please remember that whatever you’re going to do, it should be what you love the most and you should do it with your heart and intention. And if we give the best shot based on realistic, straightforward and uncomplicated business paradigm, the result would definitely be enduringly satisfying.

Story by: Luminesce’s Editorial Team