The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 3)

Continued from Part 2 – What are the things customers like about Thai Odyssey and get them to come back for more?

People love the polite and humble ways of the Thai culture everyone in Thai Odyssey practices. This is also duly imparted by Chuah who always emphasises the importance of providing good service and making customers happy. “We know that in any business, making money is important, but it has never been our main focus in our business development. Our vision is to create an environment for everyone to have a memorable experience, therefore, our concentration is on customers’ satisfaction and happiness. We find all ways to ensure that customers are happy when they are in our outlets and it has become the key to our continuous growth.” It was this loving culture that compelled customers to keep coming back. Business was brisk.

Chuah went on to open in Tropicana Golf and Country Club and then in Mid Valley and One Utama. Today, there are a total of 38 outlets all over Malaysia, one in Thailand and four in China. They are currently the largest Thai spa operator in Malaysia as certified by the Malaysia Book of Records. Other notable achievements are being awarded Best Family Spa and Best Consumer Choice at the Malaysia Spa & Wellness Awards, Women’s Weekly Quality Results & Services for Thai Foot Massage and being recognised as Excellent Customer Service Retailer by MRCA. They have received a total of 18 local and international awards.

While Thai Odyssey offers a full menu of services, their most popular massage remains the Thai Traditional massage, followed by the Thai Aromatherapy massage. “I am confident that our body massages are one of the best in town. We continuously find ways to make our massages more enjoyable for our customers.”

While Thai Odyssey is not expensive, there is a perception that they are. “Yes, I have customers who tell me this, but usually these are comments before they tried our massage services. After their first visits, many are impressed with the quality of services and the value they received that they keep coming back for more. We hold a certain standard. You won’t find a smelly pillow here, a lack of hygiene or an overly casual masseuse chatting away while working. We offer a truly relaxing experience and a dose of luxury and pampering for our customers.”

This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1 – What did Chuah do even after he received all the brickbats from family and friends after he told them about his idea of going into some massage business?

Using his close connections with shopping malls, Chuah then sent proposals to shopping malls on starting up Thai Odyssey. Unfortunately even his connections were unable to broker a leasing contract. All his proposals were rejected. It was simply unheard off at that time for a massage center to be located in a shopping mall,” says Chuah.

Unfazed, Chuah turned back to his outlet in Centrepoint. He decided to give it a bigger presence and moved the outlet to the second floor next to his office where there was bigger space. The first few months proved to be slow however as many people were not aware of the outlet.

“I noticed that 95% of customers were guys and all of them paid cash. Some of them didn’t even want a receipt, almost as if going for a massage was a dirty little secret. I had to do something about this perception. It seemed that people still viewed going for a massage as something seedy.

Chuah then ran a very attractive promotion for couples. The promotion proved to be a success and female customers started coming. In six months, the male and female ratio began to even out. Chuah’s clever strategy was working. After one year, the Centrepoint outlet was fully packed.

The event management business wasn’t doing very well that time and Chuah decided to focus on growing Thai Odyssey. It was time to really get his business going big now. “I liked this business as it is a business with human touch, literally.”

Back Chuah went to the shopping mall. This time, he invited the shopping mall management to come over to his outlet in Centrepoint to experience the massage. As he had something more tangible, the resistance lessened.

Jusco (now known as AEON) agreed to lease him a space in their Seremban 2 mall. The only vacant lot available was hidden space of 600 sq ft beside a public toilet. It was far from ideal and a tough decision to make. Still Chuah forged ahead and said yes to the space. His decision proved to be an excellent choice for business turned out fantastic. Surprisingly the hidden space did wonders for his business. “There were only two toilets in the mall and the toilet next to our outlet was the most used. Every shopper had to walk past our outlet and we did so well,” laughs Chuah. “This gave me more confidence that I had something very good to offer.”

Perhaps, what won the customers over were the good nature and sincerity of the therapists and everyone in the outlet including the front desk personnel, even the tea lady and the janitors. “Yes, there are many massage centres around, but in our business, everyone does it from the heart,” says Thai Odyssey executive director Anthony Thuan who is also Chuah’s business partner. “Our customers can sense that.”

This article appeared in The Star on 3rd June 2014.

Metrobiz: Page 22.

Metrobiz: Page 23.