Constitution Day in Chiangmai was celebrated by a live
performance of “songs for life” band Carabao at the Imperial Mae Ping
Hotel Beer Garden on Tuesday 10th December. Several hundred people turned
out to see and hear this popular Thai group fronted by the singer who is the
central attraction of Beer Chang’s TV adverts, and who recently launched
his own energy drink “Carabao Daeng”.
The evening was introduced by support artists with the
main act due on stage at 9:00 p.m. according to pre-publicity, which
detailed no cover charges or door prices. At the door, again there were no
warnings that the evening would cost any more than the food and drinks
Following the supporting acts was an interminable 50
minutes of Carabao Daeng advertising and “phasa Thai” rabbiting from the
stage, with zero English explanation for the some 20% of audience who were
Everything promotional in the Beer Garden was in Thai
(except for the numerous Carlsberg signs). Such lack of catering for
non-Thai guests has been the subject of previous articles, and on this
occasion was particularly galling when the bill arrived.
Carabao started their set fifty minutes late, and the
first forty minutes was muted and under par for this normally exciting act.
By 10:30 p.m., some people were making ready to leave and I followed suit.
Then came the unpleasant surprise that 99 baht per head was added to the
already expensive bills. Myself and my companion queried why we had not been
warned about the charge. The waitress simply smiled, Thai style. Displaying
“jai-yen” I paid it, but grudgingly due to both the content of the event
and the lack-lustre performance from the stage. I also noted that drinks
without alcohol were more expensive than those with alcohol at this venue
(Fruit Juice B80, Diet Coke B50, Carlsberg Beer B45). An observation of
corporate responsibility which may explain some of Chiangmai’s drunk
driving problem if emulated around the city.
From my point of view, this event was a blow to
Chiangmai’s tourism industry. If the performance was for promoting a
product licensed in the performer’s name, why did the public have to pay
to attend this “info-mercial”? If it was held in the grounds of a
premium establishment, like the Imperial Mae Ping, why was that cover charge
not notified in pre-publicity and announcements? What will the foreign
visitors report back home about such stunts and how will it damage the
This corporate blindness may explain why returnee
tourists have fallen from 50% of total arrivals, to 25%, in the last three
years, using Immigration Department figures as source data. Any good manager
knows that high percentages of repeat business reduces marketing costs - new
customers are more expensive to gain than existing clients are to maintain.
A Constitution Day celebration concert - no. A
promotional event for a new energy drink - yes. But after that treatment, I
won’t be buying any.