03:25 (GMT +7) - Thursday 24/10/2019

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Hilton Da Nang an exceptional experience for all

Released at: 19:22, 08/10/2019 GUIDE AWARDS WINNERS

Hilton Da Nang an exceptional experience for all

Photo: Hilton Da Nang

In hospitality for 25 years, with almost 20 years at Hilton, Mr. Jesper Bach Larsen was appointed General Manager of Hilton Da Nang in February 2017. On the occasion of the 20th The Guide Awards, he tells VET about his hotel, the hospitality industry, his views on tourism, and his career.

■ Can you introduce us to Hilton Da Nang?

In the heart of the city and along the banks of the Han River, Hilton Da Nang offers a relaxing experience for business and leisure guests alike. Rising 28 stories, the hotel features 220 stylish guest rooms and suites with river and ocean views, detailed services, spacious meeting rooms, and contemporary restaurants and a rooftop bar. It’s near the Han Bridge, just steps away from vibrant and bustling Bach Dang Street, and just an eight-minute drive from the beach and 15 minutes from Da Nang International Airport.

■ What are the hotel’s strengths and what differentiates it from others? What are its greatest challenges, and what strategies does management have to overcome them?

With a presence of 100 years, Hilton is recognized the world over, not only as a leading hotel brand for travelers worldwide but also for the excellent guest experience we offer. As our flagship hotel in the center of Vietnam, Hilton Da Nang is one of the most stylish hotels in the city, with a contemporary concept. More than just design-led, we truly care about our guests and make every effort to deliver great experiences to them, whether they are visiting for business or leisure.

Da Nang holds huge significance as a key city in Vietnam. We see more and more people from other countries looking to travel here, and with more travelers we need to cater to a wider range of travel needs and preferences. In addition to en­suring our operations run smoothly, it is crucial that we maintain our reputation as a trusted brand and hotel. Once we earn our guests’ trust, we earn their loyalty, and they will then choose to stay with us even more.

Since we’ve opened, Hilton Da Nang has been running a Journey Ambassador program, which is purely focusing on the guest experience: we care about quality rather than quantity, and we want our guests to feel happy and return to stay with us.

Mr. Jesper Bach Larsen, General Manager of Hilton Da Nang

■ How tough is the competition between five-star hotels in Da Nang now and into the future? Does Hilton Da Nang face difficulties as more and more large-scale hotel projects appear in town?

The accommodation boom has created more opportunities for us to think about how to get ahead of the game. It’s also helped put Da Nang on the tourism map and will only drive more travelers to the region. Our challenge now is to create and deliver that memorable experience through great service, which helps us build our brand and drive return stays. We are very excited about the future, when we look forward to welcoming other sister hotels managed by Hilton in the market. This includes the soon-to-be-opened Hilton Garden Inn Da Nang, which will provide more choices for our guests.

■ Industry 4.0 is impacting on all sectors of society, including hospitality. How does it affect Hilton Da Nang? How has the hotel prepared? Does it use modern devices and tech­nology to serve guests better?

As part of the Hilton brand, we always remain up-to-date and many steps ahead of the competition when it comes to ap­plying technology in our hotel. Our Hilton Honors members will appreciate the benefits that being part of our award-winning guest-loyalty program bring. Hilton Honors has one of the most advanced mobile loyalty apps in the industry, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room.

■ What has the hotel done to protect the environment and take part in other social activities to help the community?

At Hilton, we seek to operate and grow sustainably, which includes helping our hotels drive improvements around how they manage energy, water, and waste. We are dedicated to preserving natural resources and contributing to a low-carbon future - all towards a better world.

In 2018 we launched our new Travel with Purpose 2030 targets for driving positive social and environmental change on a global scale. Through these targets, we pledge to cut our en­vironmental footprint in half and double our social impact in­vestment by 2030.

Notably, we are the first major hotel company to both set science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, and to commit to sending zero hotel soap to landfill, by recycling soap through our collaboration with Diversy in the Soap For Hope program.

On a local level, we support disadvantaged children from the orphanage at Quang Chau Pagoda and also from Tohe Company, by procuring handmade products to use as hotel giveaways, and we work with Au Thuyen Tho Quang to keep the area clean and support disadvantaged remote villages around Da Nang to celebrate important holidays in Vietnam with gifts and tree planting.

■ Tourism is one of Vietnam’s key economic sectors. The number of international tourists coming to the country increases every year. How do you assess the tourism potential of Da Nang in particular and Vietnam in general?

I have no doubt that there is huge tourism potential in Vietnam and it is on the rise. With large amounts of investment from both local authorities and international companies, Da Nang has become famous for its nature, beaches, and number of UNESCO sites within reaching distance. Everybody is looking towards Vietnam and especially Da Nang and Hoi An as an area of growth. Direct international flights are increasing, especially from cities and travel hubs such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. The potential is clear to everybody, not only for central Vietnam but also for Vietnam in general.

■ It’s been said that “Da Nang is becoming an ‘outdated travel destination’ now”. What is your response to that? What should local authorities, hospitality providers, and local people do to change that perception?

That surprises me! Records have shown that visitor arrivals are increasing year-on-year and I personally have a very positive outlook for the continuous growth of tourism in Da Nang. The focus now is to improve transportation, clean up beaches, and increase retail options for guests visiting the city. The people of Da Nang are warm and friendly and there is potential for us to do more to help local communities benefit from the increasing amount of tourism in the city.

■ Can you tell us about your experience in the hospitality in­dustry? Prior to coming to Hilton Da Nang, where were you posted? And with your management experience, how will you direct the development of Hilton Da Nang in the future?

I have worked in hospitality for around 25 years in nine countries and territories, including England, Japan and South Korea. I have worked almost 20 years for Hilton and my last job was General Manager of Hilton Namhae Golf & Spa Resort in South Korea.

Hilton Da Nang should be an experience, which is key to travelers enjoying this beautiful city. My focus continues to be on ensuring our service stands out in the industry - including other hotels, restaurants, and cafés. As the saying goes, “you can build a beautiful hotel, but your team creates a memorable experience”. This does not happen overnight, and I am fully committed to investing in my team’s development in order to help them deliver exceptional experiences.

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