Sarunya Lertputtarak & Denis Samokhin
Medical tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Thailand. As with any businesses, medical tourism should seek to understand its customers’ needs and perceptions for developing a marketing plan. The perceived service image, perceived value, and perceived risks are recognised as important aspects because they play an important role in predicting purchase behavior and achieving strategic planning for competitive advantages. There were more medical tourists from Europe than those from other western countries travelling to Thailand. Every year, people come to Thailand for vacation and medical treatment. Hence, this study aimed to compare the different perceptions of European and non-European tourists (i.e., North America, Australia, and New Zealand) toward medical services in Thailand. Data were collected from 362 respondents using questionnaires and the sample was selected via convenience sampling at tourist spots in Pattaya, Thailand. An independent sample t-test was conducted in order to test the hypotheses. The results show that Europeans have a better impression of Thailand’s medical services than non-Europeans concerning convenience of travel, transportation arrangements, setting up medical procedures, and coordinating services with patients, hospitals and insurance companies. However, there was also a higher perception of risk for Europeans than non- Europeans when they compared medical treatment with other forms of travelling. While the perceived value of medical service did not show a different perception between Europeans and non-Europeans, they agreed that medical service in Thailand is worthwhile. Therefore, service providers should understand tourist perceptions toward services and respond to their needs by developing service strategies to increase the convenience and trustworthiness of travelling with reasonable prices.
Keywords: Medical tourism, perceived medical service image, perceived risk, perceived value, Thailand