DELIVERING HAPPINESS TO KEEP TOUCHING HEARTS
“His mission is to deliver amazing travel experiences to create memorable and unique holidays for the discerning traveler”. Discover Nha Trang had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pham Ha, CEO, Luxury Travel Co. Ltd – Vietnam’s first luxury tour operator.
What brought you into the luxury travel industry, when in 2004, this concetp was very unfamiliar to most Vietnamese travel firms?
I have travelled to 54 countries in the world, and spent over 20 years in the tourism business. My life changed in 2002 when I read an ‘E-startup businesses book’ while on business in Malaysia. Coming back home, knowing that I had the experience and desire to develop a high quality service company that would focuse on quality not quantity, I launched ‘Luxury Travel’.
At that time many people doubted the project. Some of my friends thought it was too risky. However, ‘differentiate or die is my mantra, so I persisted with my original plans to develop the luxury tourism sector with the concept of ‘niche experiences for the discerning traveler’. Luxury Travel developed a long-term strategy, initially with the idea of distinctive and stylish experiences, and as a consequence became the first and most respected luxury tour operator in Vietnam and won numerous travel awards.
Can you share your thoughts about the obstacels that a Vietnamese travel company faces in this market?
First of all, as a Vietnamese company, we have to compete with the giants in the tourism industry from all over the world. To promote the company we source clients ourselves; work with other tour companies to offer their customers our products; participate in exhibitions and trade shows; and invite journalists, advertisers and overseas customers to Vietnam.
Secondly, we are up against other Vietnamese companies who copy our products and brand especially after we became established in niche markets, such as South Africa, South America and North America
This year, we were awarded ‘The Certificate of Excellence’ by Trip Advisor. Luxury Travel has also been nominated for “ the best luxury tour company in Vietnam” by Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2015, ‘Vietnam’s Leading Tour Operator’ and ‘The Asian Leading Luxury Tour Operator’ in the World Travel Awards, ‘The Oscars of the tourism industry’.
In addition, Luxury Travel has won ‘The Guide Award’, awarded by the Vietnam Economic Times, for the eighth consecutive year. To attain these, Luxury Travel has continually worked to create and deliver luxury products and outstanding customer service through our attitude, high standards and our efficiency..
How do you protect your brand and differentiate it from the competition?
It begins with the name, ‘Luxury Travel’. The brand expresses unequivocally our concept. Nowadays, many operators try to copy our brand, but ‘Luxury Travel’ is registered and protected by the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam. In addition, these copycats are not able to replicate our efficient processes and company culture. They just do not understand the market trends, the real meaning of ‘luxury experiences’ and the way to reach out to clients and touch their hearts.
Personally, I have been on the best deluxe tours internationally provided by world renowned travel companies, stayed in the finest hotels and resorts and experienced exclusive cruises. From these experiences, I have learned how they meet the highest standards and reach out and touch the hearts of their clients, and then share this with my staff.
They also have the opportunity to experience the service at 5 star hotels and on board cruise ships in order to learn and deliver real benefits and advantages to our customers. We speak the same language as our clients and serve them in the way they expect. As a result, we have a 99% satisfaction rate from our customers and are working hard towards meeting the expectations of the remaining 1%.
Compared to other companies, what makes you stand out?
It is our people. They are the company owners and work for themselves, and keep touching hearts of our guests every day. Our team members make the difference. We are proud of our qualified and highly skilled personnel who are masters of high-end travel experiences and customer care.
Our company culture ensures the best working environment for our staff who then take pride in ensuring the greatest experiences for every traveler. Our highly experiential products and services make a difference, too. The secret of our success is that we reach out and touch the hearts of our clients with our exclusive experiential travel, and by word of mouth they do the marketing for us.
As the first high-end tour operator in the luxury tourism industry in Vietnam, we not only want to capitalize on our position, but also to develop and grow from it. Through joint-ventures, creating new independent business, and buying small niche companies in the luxury services industry, we create experiences, control our quality of services, and constantly strive to provide top notch luxury services in Vietnam and elsewhere. Our vision is to become the leading tour operator and DMC in Southeast Asia by our 15th anniversary in 2020, and one of the Asia’s leading luxury tour operators, with a potential IPO thereafter.
What is the target market of Luxury Travel?
In the travel industry, the high-end sector is around 3% of the total market. Most of our customers are from Europe, Australia, the USA, South Africa and South America who are either traveling to or working in Vietnam.
In addition we serve government officials and CEOs looking to develop business opportunities in Vietnam. There are also clients interested in adventure travel, diving, honeymoon sand family holidays. In general, most of our clients are willing to pay top dollars to experience an unforgettable holiday at the world’s top hotels.
By booking with Luxury Travel they ensure they get the right experiences with the highest standard of personal service.
What is your opinion on the current state of the domestic luxury travel market?
Luxury travel in Vietnam has developed rapidly in the last few years. In fact, travel companies are trying to increase their domestic market share, based around the natural beauty we have in Vietnam – the coastline and the mountains.
Recently we launched a new experience with sunset cocktail and dinner cruises in Nha Trang Bay and we will the first ever all-inclusive exclusive Emperor Cruises overnight cruises with butler and limo services in Bai Tu Long Bay in this September 2016. Many Vietnamese clients book this new experience.
Quite often the cruises are fully booked, especially around festivals and summer time in Nha Trang. We have found that when you have a good product, you always have the competitive advantage. We have more VIP requests for outbound trips to Europe, Australia, South Africa or closer destinations such as Sri Lanka, India or The Maldives.
What do you think are the most important elements needed to develop a successful career in the tourism industry?
It is the passion to serve other people and to make them happy. At the same time, one needs to have passion for a higher purpose, which means understanding the need to make a difference to people whom we serve every day, and to create unique experiences and provide ‘WOW’ services to them.
I often refer to our team as specialists in the art of travel, and this is only possible if you have passion for what you do, and if you enjoy building special relationship with people. My personal mission is to deliver happiness with passion with a purpose.
Innovation is the key for success. If you want to work in service industry, you must have knowledge, skills and attitude. If you want to do business in service sector, you must have passion, determination, self-confidence and think outside of the box, and above all, dare to be different.
Can you tell us about your leadership style?
Leading is serving. I love our team, try to understand them and help them. Given that we work in an industry that serves people, most of my time is spent with people, I always focus my efforts on creating an enviroment in which all everyone is happy. In the end, only happy team members can create memorable experiences for our guests.
There are few other concepts I believe in. Firstly, I wish for our employees to be the best they can be at work – my job is to show them that they actually can be that little bit better.
Then, it is key that we do not forget to have fun at work. Work to live, not live to work – a healthy life and a good work balance is very important to me. Success is not the key to happiness. Hapiness is the key to success.
If you love what you are doing, you will successful. Finally, life is way too short to worry all the time, make sure it is meaningful. Success is a journey is not a destination if you pursue your passion, then success comes naturally.
Twenty years ago, ‘luxury’ was defined by your car and you house. Nowadays, it seems also to be defined by your experiences. What do you think about this?
In my view, ‘luxury’ refers to home luxury, personal luxury and luxury service. Luxury travel is part of that. The trends show that people desire unique, authentic, ultimate, memorable and special experiences. The new standard for luxury travel is the ‘wow’ factor.
Luxury travelers are interested in total privacy, time to themselves, freedom from waiting around at the airport, no check-in at hotels, and the hotel staff addressing you by name. They look for for authentic experiences that they can not find on Google.
Furthermore, there is the desire to travel further afield, to discover the sea bed, take a world cruise or explore the moon and outer space. This is the new face of luxury travel and for now, the sky is the limit.
For more information on how to book a luxury holiday with the WOW factor, visit www.luxurytravelvietnam.com