Reminiscence, Recovery and Reality
The Phuket Gazette.
I can still recall the day my world changed, way back in 1981. Music videos hit TV screens everywhere, and became an overnight sensation.
My girlfriend at the time swore that she heard me repeating in my sleep: "I want my MTV".
Suddenly, age crept up on me like a thief in the night and I was left with adult programming on VH1 (Video Hits One, a US cable network), which relied on the rockers of old wanting to revisit their heavy-metal childhood roots.
Trips down memory lane are a universal need; something like air, water and a strong cup of coffee.
Nostalgia even enters into the wrestling ring of business, where jaded industry veterans trade yarns about the "good old days".
Take the property trade in resort destinations like Phuket as an example. In the last days of the 90's came those enticing pool villas, coffee-table design books and yes, the promise that not only could you live the dream, but you might also get cast into a leading real-life role.
The island's rapid rise in the high-stakes real-estate game, where foreign buyers were the catalyst of growth, hit the brakes about two years ago and the lingering memory of that climb up the hill of external demand still clouds the heads of many developers and brokers. Times have changed; business has changed. Yet, as a large-scale economic industry for many, they are content to sit on the sidelines, puzzling over what to do next.
While the broad market of resort real estate has seen a flattening and resales and rentals have moved higher into the mix, off-plan sales continue to languish along the lines of a limp biscuit.
Now, despite economic crises and political hi-jinks, Bangkok and its environs continue their sprint up the mountain and their sales and capital appreciation continue to prosper.
For islanders – be that Phuket or Samui – many are satisfied to crowd the waiting room of their family doctor waiting for a prognosis on the return en masse of foreign buyers.
These patients might be in for a very long wait. I hope they brought books.
The reality is that a real-estate market cannot be separated down the middle, between domestic and foreign buyers, on a large scale.
These buyers need to mix, meet and greet and exchange business cards. Just like a really good cocktail party where you want lively and energetic conversation, and not just the same old people.
Diversity in market segments lies at the core of all great business models. Never rely on only one set of customers, or you run the risk of being left out in the cold on the day they decline.
Challenges are inherent in getting Thai domestic buyers to get out of their minivans and stop flocking to Hua Hin or the eastern seaboard.
Reality checks are always good, and the truth be known, Phuket has to get its act together and tap into a share of the local buying pool unless it's willing to wait for things to "get back to normal".
I haven't watched a music video in years. And while I do like to turn the music way up loud on my iPod, the amazing fact is that the little Apple device shows how we have to embrace the future for our business and not stay with our attention locked on the rear-view mirror. Anyone for a cassette or eight-track tape?