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Hotels and resorts must keep pace with change

Released at: 08:04, 19/08/2018

Hotels and resorts must keep pace with change

Photo: Viet Tuan

Travel is changing and hotels and resorts of all sizes need to stay abreast of trends and even create their own.

by Mr. Herbert Laubichler-Pichler / General Manager, The Anam

In the communications sphere, one of the biggest travel innovations is that bloggers and social media influencers are becoming increasingly important. Platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are popular among the new generation of traveler. This proliferation in technology paves the way for more and more young guests coming to hotels who know how to work with this new way of communication and share their travel experiences with friends and followers. However, when you use social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, you need to know who your target market is and you need to understand this target market well. 

How guests discover flash sales and book their holidays nowadays is also an interesting area of travel innovation. Companies like Luxury Escapes and Secret Escapes, which offer heavily discounted luxury hotel stays and trips, are doing incredibly well. Luxury Escapes has 8 million members, primarily in Australia, while Secret Escapes and its subsidiaries have about 30 million members in the UK and Germany. More and more companies will sell travel over the internet and provide flash sales geared towards targeted markets such as, for example, retirees who are very flexible regarding when they can book a holiday.

It’s important to note on the sales and promotions front that smaller, independent outfits have their advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantage is that we have to do all sales and promotions by ourselves, unlike properties that are part of a hotel chain with corporate offices to support sales and communications efforts. On the other hand, there is more flexibility, and we can work faster and determine what uniquely suits just us. Everything revolves around speed and around knowing your customer.

Finally, a hugely significant area of travel innovation is going green. Unfortunately, Vietnam has been singled out as among the world’s Top 5 ocean polluters and mis-managers of plastic waste. The hospitality industry needs play its part in reducing harm to the environment. It’s crucial for an authority to be established that helps guide hotels and resorts on how to genuinely go green. 

Online travel agents (OTAs) are great in that they ultimately afford travelers a lot of choice. 

While large hotel groups generally do not like OTAs because they have to pay them commissions, we like them because we would lose a lot of business if it weren’t for them. More than 30 per cent of all of our room revenue is derived from OTA bookings. 

OTAs do make a lot of money but they also channel a lot of resources into promoting hotels, including independent hotels and family-run hotels who need these online booking services to reach a much larger audience than they would otherwise have.

The day OTAs lose influence we will only have large corporations selling us their brands. OTAs protect independence and help individual operators offer a distinct product based on local culture and their values. Large corporations worry too much about how to protect their brand and shareholder value, while individual hotels provide diversity and typical Vietnamese hospitality.

Most Asian resorts that feature local items make concessions to the foreign palate, so I thought that it would be great to be able to share how the Vietnamese truly eat day-to-day with our guests. We really wanted to present Vietnam’s fascinating culture in an authentic way at The Anam and have achieved this through various experiences, including our Mama’s Cooking culinary experience and our intimate art tour into the galleries and homes of talented local artists. 

When I first went to introduce the Mama’s Cooking concept, some of the staff said “But my mum can’t cook for international guests, she only cooks for local people!”. I had to build their confidence and really emphasize that this would be an amazing experience for our guests. 

Mama’s Cooking has been hugely popular with our guests. They love that they can enjoy timeless Vietnamese classics drawing on centuries-old recipes handed down through generations.
It’s a simple concept but it really resonates with our guests because it’s about delectable, authentic Vietnamese cuisine cooked by these smiling and welcoming Mamas. 

Meanwhile, Nguyen Hong, who opened Nha Trang’s first art gallery, called The Rainbow Gallery, and I created the Nha Trang Art Tour to provide the ultimate “insider” knowledge about the destination. As part of this intimate seven-hour tour, art lovers are welcomed into the homes and galleries of acclaimed local artists otherwise inaccessible to tourists, providing a new perspective of Vietnam and its people through art ranging from oil paintings and metalwork to sculpture and photography. The tour wraps up with dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant renowned for its seafood.

I believe that with five-star resorts, particularly those right on the beach, there is not a lot of competition from the home-sharing economy, including Airbnb. With city hotels, yes, there is competition, as you want a good location in the city within walking distance of great restaurants. You don’t really need a nice breakfast; it’s mainly about the location. However, not a lot of home-sharing accommodation boasts a beautiful large swimming pool, a spa, a laundry and much more that is on offer at a beachfront resort. It will take a long time before the home-sharing economy becomes serious competition to five-star beach resorts.

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