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Luxury Travel touches the emotions

March 26, 2014 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

Luxury TravelLuxury tourism is being redefined as experiences, providing the ‘wow factor’ to the most discerning travelers

This ethicalbusiness philosophy has helped Pham Ha steer Luxury Travel Ltd ( to overcome many challenges and become a leading specialist inbound tour operator in the country.

IMG_7542A taste for the good life

Pham Ha is not a moneyed giant but he does have aristocratic tastes. He has a deep interest in things like luxury cars, cruises, and playing golf. It is not impossible to find him enjoying a cold beer with a few friends in the most luxurious hotels like theInterContinental Hanoi Westlake or Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. And now, his dream of owning a luxury cruise boat is about to become a reality.

He has revealed that the 6-star Emperor Cruises will set sail at the end of the Year of the Horse (2014). This is not just to satisfyhis personal passion, but Emperor Cruises is the next venture of Luxury Travel Ltd to tap into the ultra-luxury tourism market inHa Long Bay, which he believes remains unexploited.

This claim might seem a little far-fetched when there are up to 500 cruise boats operating day and night in this most attractivesite. However, Ha notes that most of the current cruises in Ha Long Bay target the high-end tourist segment rather than theluxury and ultra-luxury market.

Obviously if Luxury Travel Ltd. entered this crowded market, the venture would be bound to fail, but Ha plans to make EmperorCruises a work of art on Ha Long Bay, ensuring it stands head and shoulders above the other junks and cruises there.

We want to create an experience that touches the heart and senses of the most discerning travelers”, Ha said in confidenceabout his future project. “Our customers will be served like feudal emperors.

The idea of building this ship was inspired by the imperial cruise in 1918 of King Khai Dinh of the Nguyen Dynasty (Vietnam’slast feudal dynasty), when he traveled from Hai Phong to Quang Yen, visiting Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long, sailing on the best junk available at that time.

The junk has only 10 cabins, and the amount invested equates to up to 1.5 billion VND per cabin. Emperor Cruises has been designed as a traditional boat but using high-quality materials with an exquisite gold-plated motif, fine silk, velvet and otherluxury items such as brass, crystal and gem stones. Works of art commissioned from well-known Vietnamese artists will adorn the walls.

This masterpiece will be a place for the most sophisticated travelers to enjoy Vietnamese culture, history and gourmet cuisine, and where royal glamour and heritage will combine to create the epitome of elegance. Each VIP customer will be treated like anemperor and experience the best of the best, in privacy, and with every detail attended to.

Everything is designed in accordance with the particular requirements and preferences of individual travelers in mind. The private butler and reception services will be available round the clock. In addition, travelers can be transferred by limousine, helicopter or seaplane between Hanoi and Halong Bay.

To attain success you must be bold.

Luxury Travel’s CEO feels that, as well as Halong Bay, Vietnam has many other potential tourism resources which are ideal for the luxury and ultra-luxury markets, but these are yet to be exploited. Meanwhile the demand from this segment is increasing significantly.

This does not mean to say that Vietnam is failing to tap into the luxury travel sector as many upmarket travelers are already arriving by private jet to stay in some of the finest resorts in the country, such as the Banyan Tree Lang Co (Hue), The Nam Hai(Quang Nam), Six Senses Con Dao or, the latest, Amano’i (Ninh Thuan), to play a round of golf on a world-class golf course or tobe pampered in a luxury spa.

However, Vietnamese tourism has not made full use of all its potential resources and, as a must-see destination, Ha Long Bay is a perfect location for discerning travelers to have the experience of a lifetime on a super-deluxe cruise.

Investing in an uber-deluxe boat on Ha Long bay is a bold move by Pham Ha, but this is a testament to his business style; to besuccessful, you must try something new and lead the market. Hence, when founding Luxury Travel ten years ago, Ha planned to drive forward the luxury travel segment while most other travel companies focused on budget travelers.

At that time, as tourism was developing in Vietnam and perceived as a honeypot for backpackers, many of Ha’s friends and family were skeptical, considering his plans to be reckless. The luxury sector was virtually non-existent with only a few smart resorts, high-end cars, sophisticated spas and international-standard golf courses.

Having been a tour guide, sales and marketing executive and seasoned manager, he had experienced deluxe luxury hotels,resorts and cruises and had the foresight to realise that the backpackers would spread the word about the attractions of Vietnam, and it wouldn’t be long before the upmarket travelers turned their attention to the country.

In the last ten years the backpackers visiting Vietnam have been joined by the jet set with the Hollywood stars Brad Pitt andAngelina Jolie choosing to holiday on  Con Dao Island and Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, visiting Sa Pa. Vietnam is now a recognised luxury destination, but it could do better.

Luxury Travel clients have included heads of state, ministers, ambassadors, royalty and leaders of multinational corporations. The company serves over 10,000 luxury travelers per year, many tours worth up to $ 1,000 per person, per day.

But before becoming a market leader as it is today, Luxury Travel’s founder started with just $1,000 but abundant passion and vision. Pham Ha started to market through Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter. However, at that time booking a tour and paying via the internet was not easy.

Most of Luxury Travel’s first customers were old acquaintances or contacts that he had made during his years of working as a tour guide. But, as with any successful company, the most effective marketing is “word of mouth” and, as visitors shared their experiences with friends and relatives, the company grew and Pham Ha recruited more and more experienced members of staff to support him.

Beside the head office in Hanoi, Luxury Travel also has a joint venture in Cambodia and representative offices in the United States. The company also operates a fleet of 10 of the latest model Mercedes cars used for its own clients as well as for rent.This fleet will shortly be supplemented by 20 new top-of-the- range vehicles including BMW, Audi, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Porchesand Limousines.

Attention to every detail

2013 was a difficult year for many businesses, but the profits of Luxury Travel Ltd increased by up to 30%, and the companypenetrated more new markets. The company aims to increase revenue by up to 58% in 2014.  His company has been nominated as Vietnam’s leading tour operator for the most pretigious world travel awards 2014.

To ensure a significant increase in business, as well as benefitting from “word of mouth” recommendations from customers, the company must offer exclusive products, excellent service and truly memorable holidays.

In the luxury travel segment, travelers expect to be transferred by limousine, helicopter or private seaplane, stay at unique and high-end resorts or sail on luxury private cruises.

However, luxury does not mean everything must be extravagant. Luxury travel is all about the experience as well. There are resorts built from bamboo, but to stay there can cost thousands of dollars per night. According to Ha, apart from luxury hotels and cars, luxury is also created by attention to detail, ensuring that every minute of every day the customer is meticulously cared for.

Before every trip, Luxury Travel ( staff always work closely with customers to make sure they have met every request, and get to know clients’ favorites, characteristics and interests so that they can deliver services tailored to them. Keeping clients informed is also paramount, so if their journey will take a little longer because of road works, they will be informed in advance so they know what to expect.

Our brand of experiential tourism provides the “wow factor” for our services to the most sophisticated customers, and this is the secret of Luxury Travel’s success as happy customers spread the word“, Ha revealed.

However, to reach out to customers, each of the Luxury Travel staff, who he fondly calls “Luxers”, must also have a good feeling about their role in the success of the company. He deeply believes that happy staff mean happy customers and to be able to inspire clients “Luxers” put themselves in their clients’ position to better understand their requirements.

Thus “Luxers” are professionally trained to serve the most demanding customers. They believe in themselves and are proud of working for the company and in the luxury travel industry. Their positive attitude is key to making customers happy.

Having three college degrees, fluent in both English and French, and visited 40 countries, Ha often comes into contact with the rich, but his own luxury style  lies deep inside him, in his lifestyle, language, level of knowledge, culture and rich life experiences.

For him luxury is also simplicity. Sometimes he has a little free time to enjoy a seafood meal, a glass of beer on the street or amorning coffee on tree-lined Phan Dinh Phung Boulevard. This is pure luxury for this busy entrepreneur who has turned his passion into a successful tourism business and is driving Luxury Travel Ltd ( to become one of the leading specialist luxury tour operators in Vietnam.

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