Publisher Gets Pleasure Pleasing His Public

Accustomed to the pace of life in Thailand himself and looking for a new channel for his skills and energies in the publishing business, Håkan Wallenius was well aware that you’ll find most Swedes in Thailand relaxing on sandy beaches in Phuket, listening to live music shows in Pattaya or enjoying fine restaurants in Bangkok. All are popular, predictable choices for Swedish tourists here.
         And Wallenius calculated that there are probably as many as  4,000 relaxing places of quality and interest worth visiting while in Thailand, and that there was no Swedish magazine telling those tourists just what was on offer. Thus Thailands Posten, a Swedish-language tabloid magazine was born.
         But that was the easy part, Hakan claims.
         “Establishing distribution channels was the real key to success for Thailands Posten. To reach our readers, the magazine must be easy to find and easy to pick it up,” says Wallenius, who printed the first issue of the magazine in August 2004.
         And once distribution was taken care of,  circulation jumped to 40,000 copies per issue and very quickly Thailands Posten came up on the radars of the 170,000 Swedish tourists who make their way to Thailand each year.
         But Hakan’s dozen or so years in Thailand came in handy too it has to be said, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of the leisure industry here guaranteed that the content of the magazine would comprise useful information as well as entertaining news.
         He knew too that when any tourist lies down with a magazine, they want to read interesting stories and better still, read about interesting people too. Thus from day one, interviews with interesting people have dominated the magazine’s pages.
         And he loves to find unusual characters and stories that intrigue the reader or bring a smile to the reader’s lips.
         He cites one recent example: “There was an entrepreneur in Minburi, a suburb of Bangkok, who produced smoked salmon. Well the process of making smoked salmon needs to be done at temperatures below 25 degree Celsius, and the weather in Thailand is at least 25 degree Celsius most days. So the solution was to air-condition the smoking room room. Interesting, isn’t it?” 
         “But more to the point, I feature stories about people who do good things in and for Thailand, and I won’t…will not…cover the antics of  old, alcoholic Europeans in some gogo bar in Pattaya,” he snorts.
         This attention to quality aplies to the magazine’s advertising policy too. The Thailands Posten publisher insists he will not let any sex-related or beer bar advertisements appear in his magazine, while he also refutes the need to feature puffed up stories about places he has never visited, or who make claims he can not support or verify.
         “I simply won’t do advertorials in Thailands Posten because trust in the magazine is critical. If readers consider the magazine is being paid to ‘hard sell’ a restaurant or hotel, they may not trust our integrity as an independent source of good information. And they may not pick up our magazine again,” he says.
         Standing up for his publishing principles has not affected revenue and to the contrary, he says some advertisers have called him back to advertise in the magazine after reading his articles.
         With his background in accountancy, the oil industry and as a salesman, he feels well-equipped to succeed in the publishing business. Håkan call himself a ‘natural salesman’ who feels totally relaxed when selling advertisements to his many clients.
         Before publishing Thailands Posten, Håkan produced another free tabloid magazine titled Guide of Bangkok and after that began in 1992, he published nearly 200 issues of the magazine before he left. With his passion for live music, Håkan made Guide of Bangkok a great source of information about restaurants, hotels, live music venues and entertainment in Bangkok. 
         After his partner insisted they take Guide of Bangkok in another direction, Håkan decided to end his association with the paper and started Thailands Posten instead.
         “There are always situations that publishers have to face and problems that arise. But when you start copying text from other magazines, you know that others can also copy you. And when a publisher prefers more advertisements, rather than nurturing the content, it’s like selling your soul. To me, keeping the identity of any magazine is really important.”
         But he has no such fears with Thailands Posten which has found a growing demand
from tourists who return to Sweden and who want more. Thus the magazine can be found at some Thai restaurants in Sweden, on Bangkok Airways and on some flights of Finnair.
         Hakan says his secret for success in publishing is that you must always provide good reasons to read the magazine. 
         “Then they start asking for it,” he smiles.

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