The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 5)

Continued from Part 4 – What are Thai Odyssey’s winning formulas?

Today, massage is very much a part of lifestyle. While 50% of Chuah’s customers come to reap benefits from a stressed mind and body where; “Many customers find that the massage relieves migraines,” says Chuah, “especially with too much time spending in front of the computer and work, massage becomes a passive exercise for many people on-the-go.” The other 50% come in once a week, as part of their lifestyle, a place where people just come to enjoy, relax and rejuvenate.

It’s not just the people between thirties and sixties who enjoy a massage. Thai Odyssey’s outlet in JB sees consistent teenagers come in for a massage. In fact, business there is one of the best, especially over the weekends when Singaporeans come over. “We receive encouraging response in all our outlets; but in JB, during the weekends, customers are willing to queue up patiently for their turn. This itself is quite a surprise to me.”


“If someone were to ask me the key to my success, I would say it is my team.  A team who appreciates our company’s core values, not only the therapists but right down to our wonderful staff who serves tea and clean the outlet or office.  I am lucky that I have a very good team which also comprises of experts and professionals who know the spa industry, with their support and partnership, we have created a successful business. In fact, many workers who started with me 10 years ago are still with me today.  I love my staff and everyone I have the pleasure to work with,” says Chuah simply. “I visit every outlet to ensure I touch base with every one of my staff. We are like a big family and I organise events for everybody to get together. That builds on togetherness and helps make us strong.

With the encouragement I get from my staff, partners and family, it motivates me to want to serve more.  I would also like to express my gratitude to Tan Sri Danny Tan (Founder of Tropicana Golf & Country Resort) for his overwhelming assistance and generous support, who has helped and inspired me to think big and achieve greatness.

When we do CSR events, I do it differently. Besides donating money, I bring my staff to an old folks home, where we sing, dance and give shoulder massages to the elderly. We try to bring joy and companionship and in the same time, create camaraderie among ourselves.”

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

Related article:
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 1)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 2)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 3)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 4) 

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3 – What are the systems that Thai Odyssey implemented that successfully helped to  steer the business to the right path?

At Thai Odyssey, every customer gets their feet washed before going on to their massage. This is a very traditional Thai practice that customers love. “I have some customers say to me, they pay a little more here, but get someone to wash their feet,” quips Chuah.

To explain why they are serious in training their masseuses to set a standardized code of service, Chuah continues, “We ensure only good therapists come our way. Our requirements are that our masseuses come from well-known massage schools in Thailand and have four to six years of experience. After they have been recruited, they will go through another month of intensive training to learn Thai Odyssey’s Integrated Spa & Customers Service System (TOISCSS) before they begin work as a masseuse.”


They also train their front desk personnel to have impeccable customer service skills. Their masseuses do not speak much English, only their native languages. They do not make an effort to teach them English because it is part of the authentic Thai experience for customers as it comes as a whole Thai experience package.

Business wasn’t always smooth sailing though. After two years of operating, Chuah received a cruel shock when local authorities barged in to eight of his outlets on the same day, closed them down and locked up all his people. Chuah was accused of not having the right permits for his workers. At that time, each of his masseuse was carrying a working pass as issued by the immigration office. Chuah was informed that the working pass was only meant for a foreign professional. Chuah’s argument that it was issued to him by the immigration office fell on deaf ears. He was promptly locked up for five days.

“I didn’t sleep at all in those five days,” laughs Chuah. “I was even told that I would possibly be caned for my crime. Can you imagine what went through my mind? Thankfully I had good people who came to bail me out. After that, all my 50 workers were also released.”

Immediately upon his release, Chuah made his way to the immigration office to speak with the local authorities. Even though he faced lots of rejection, he did not give up. He continued to pursue the matter in order to get the authorities to create a column for him to fill in the names of his employees as spa therapists. Today, laws have been made to accommodate foreign workers and the immigration office issues working pass specifically for spa therapists. “Before that, there was no such form for this type of application. In a way, we initiated this,” smiles Chuah.

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

 

Related article:
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 1)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 2)
The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 3)

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.

TO BE CONTINUE…………

The Great Odyssey: A Story of Love and Honesty (Part 1)

KNOTTED muscles, tight backs and stressful headaches. Modern lifestyles have brought us much ease of life with technology, but it has also added to our aches and pains. It is precisely this need that has fuelled the success for Thai Odyssey. What started 10 years ago in a 100 sq ft make-shift kiosk at the walkway of Centrepoint, Bandar Utama, with only four massage chairs, has since grown to be the biggest family massage centre in Malaysia. The Thai Massage, a skill focusing on loosening collected tension and re-angling the body of fatigue is therapeutic and almost remedial for city slickers who are constantly in stress and worry.

The story of Thai Odyssey starts out some 12 years ago when its founder and managing director Leon Chuah decided to holiday in Thailand as well as look around for business opportunities. “Over there, me and my friends experienced Thai massage for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it.” However, Chuah’s first brush with the rejuvenating therapy amounted to nothing. He was focused on running his event management business at that time and wasn’t sure about its’ true potential. He came back to Malaysia without any plans, albeit a lot happier and refreshed.

Shortly after that, Chuah was involved in organizing a Selangor state event called the Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle (IMTGT). “I brought in traders from Thailand and one of the Thai traders brought with him a team of six therapists to promote the Thai massage business. They set up a booth in the IMTGT event and I was blown away by the fantastic response they received. During the one-month event, people were queuing up to try the massage.”

Customers aside, the six therapists also enjoyed their stint in KL and didn’t want to leave when it was time for them to go back. They asked Chuah if they could stay for some work. Seeing the good business opportunity, Chuah immediately set to get them a space for a small business. He spoke to the Centrepoint management (where his office was located) and wrangled a small space at a corridor and started offering foot massage services. The demand was there and Chuah himself, who began going regularly saw a difference in his body. His back pain, an affliction that never left him since his younger days gradually went away. It was then that the idea of a real business began to solidify.

Of course family and friends were against his idea, chuckles Chuah as he recollects. “Well, it was common for people to associate massage with sex and unwholesome activities and my family felt the same way. But I was determined to do something different. I wanted to differentiate from what was offered in the market at that time.”


TO BE CONTINUE…………

An Uplifting Experience in 30 Minutes Thai Odyssey @ Gateway KLIA2

What would you like to do while you wait for your flight?

Get a 30-minute foot massage or have a refreshing shower?

Now, at KLIA2, you can do both!
Flying could be a strain for many frequent airports commuter. Even leisure travelers may find it a pressure when there are so many things to do before and after a flight.

Stress in flying is common given the physical and psychological strain especially rushing to the airport through traffic, moving luggage around the departure and arrival halls. Even after checking in, or boarded the flight, due to lack of space, minimal movement, lack of sleep, oxygen and water, unsurprisingly, there are many people who sigh and wish for some reliefs.

In Thai Odyssey, we hear you. With ten years experience in the business of providing you with relaxation and rejuvenation since 2004, we want to continue to serve you with a serene environment and a tranquil atmosphere for everyone to calmly rest and breathe. In May, 2014, we took flight again with our 38th outlet in KLIA2, decorating it to accommodate everyone’s request and to fulfill a desire – a yearning for a quiet respite …

Thai Odyssey at Gateway KLIA2 is one of our largest spa and massage outlets, occupying over 5,000 sq ft of retail space. Retaining our usual Thai-inspired decor and soothing ambience, again, we bring you into a world of serenity, where heaven and earth interspersed among the chatters of the outside world. Step in and revisit an ancient calling for the harmonious consciousness of peace and stillness.

Enjoy an extension of our much talked-about exemplary services by our expert therapists with the supplementary in-house facilities that are only available at Thai Odyssey @ Gateway KLIA2;

1. There are 19 foot massage chairs and a team around 20 expert therapists. At any one time, 19 customers can have their 30-minute Thai Foot Massage for a body-mind-spirit relaxation;

2. If you have a longer time to relax, book a 60-minute Thai Aromatherapy Massage and use one of our 3 Aromatherapy Rooms;

3. Bathrooms are available for a refreshing shower; 3 for women and 3 for men, a total of 6 shower rooms;


4. Complimentary left luggage facility for our customers;

5. Sit back in an aromatic scented customers waiting area with soothing piped-in music and enjoy our specially blended herbal tea while you loosen up and wind down.

Thai Odyssey @ Gateway KLIA2 is the second largest outlet and it is designed with the space and facilities to cater to the needs of travelers. May it be your first time taking a flight or as frequent traveler, lounge in with us and let your senses take flight … to an uplifting experience!

3 Extra-Special Gift Ideas for Dad on Father’s Day


After celebrating Mother’s Day in May, are we looking forward to give our dads a treat too? Undoubtedly, this will be a special time we want to spend with the man of the house. Prepping ourselves for a fun weekend with our energetic dads, we will give him a surprise with some specially selected gifts. Maybe the best gift is to tell him a story, as he has told us for so many years. The story is about Father’s Day.

There are many versions about the origins of Father’s Day. One story dates back 4,000 years ago in Babylon where a young boy named Elmesu carved a Father’s Day message on a card that was made of clay. Elmesu wished his Babylonian father good health and longevity. There was no evidence to show what happened to Elmesu and his father, but the tradition to celebrate Father’s Day remained in several countries.

Another version which is closer to our time started in 1909. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd who lived in Spokane, Washington in America heard a Mother’s Day sermon by Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, when she was 27. Sonora thought to herself: if there is a day for Mothers, then there should be a day to celebrated Fathers’ contribution as well.

Sonora’s mother died during childbirth and her father raised the newborn with five other children with love and care. Inspired by Anna Jarvis’s struggle to promote Mother’s Day, Sonora worked her way up to get the endorsement for Father’s Day. The Spokane Ministerial Association and the local YMCA supported her cause. President Woodrow Wilson approved the idea in 1916. It was not until five decades later, in 1966, that President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.


As June approaches, we scratch our heads to ask: What will dad like? Thinking of all the activities dad has done over the past years, there may be the hiking, fishing or simply just lazing at home playing games, there must be something dad likes to have.

These are three simple extraordinary gifts for the coolest man:

A Cookbook
For dad who cooks your dinner and wipe the dipping sauce from your cutest (he said so!) chin, get him a full illustrated, colorful cookbook. This will give him better ideas to prepare more meals to enjoy at home.

A Gift Card
Man likes to be in control, so is dad. Make things simple, just get him a gift card. It can be for books, to download apps, music and games. It’s even a greater idea to get him a Thai Odyssey’s Gift Card for him to get a relaxing massage of his choice.

An Electronic Gadget
Get your e-savvy dad a new tablet, a new smart phone or a new health gadget. For your dad who reads a lot, get him a new e-book reader so that he can carry his whole library of books in his pocket when he travels.

 

 

 

4 Ways To Create Happy Homes

When you are feeling down, don’t you feel that you want to go home?  When you are tired traveling, don’t you always feel that home is still the best place in the world?  You can get a house anywhere you wish, but when you make it your home, you would always want to come back.

Home is the sanctuary.  It is a sacred and protected place, originating from the latin word “sanctum”, which means an inviolably private place where you take refuge and retreat from all that you are obliged to do for the day.  As such, a home or room, even if it is a small corner, can be created to give you peace and solace.

These are four easy ways you can create a peaceful and happy place you can call home:

 

1. Clear The Clutter

Stuff that no longer serves, you have to either dispose of them or give them away to people who will need them more than you.  When you are able to de-clutter your home, you will feel less burdened and experience bliss.

 

 

2. Make Your Bed

Simple as it may sound, it really is a happiness determinant marker.  In a survey of 68,000 people by Hunch.com, 71% of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62% of non-bed-makers reported being unhappy.  Bed-makers are also more likely to like their jobs, exercise regularly and feel well rested.  They are even more successful and happy as compared to their rumple-sheeted peers.

 

3. Create A Serene Corner

It’s not the size of the house or the room that makes someone happy.  If you have too many things going around in your house with kids and grown-ups, you may want to look for a place where you call it your “Serene Corner”.  You can have it tagged and tell everyone to respect your serenity when you go to this corner to read a book or just to sit quietly for a while.

 

4. Use Soft Color Tones

If you have your walls painted in white, then you can choose soft pastel color shades for your windows.  Add soft patterns to your furniture with lace or an easy throw for coziness.  Be creative and choose fabric or paint with colors that make you feel relaxed and peaceful. By the end of the day when you are home, think of what you would like to feel then, and decide on the colors that match that feeling you want.

 

Take time to think about how you want to feel when you are at home.  Would you want more relaxing time or the time to play?  Even if you play with your kids at home, how would you like the relationships to be, would everyone be in a competitive mood or be happily creative?  Starting now, you can choose how you want it, visualize it and create the condition you want.  And let it become the place you will want to go home to.