What brought you into the luxury travel industry when in 2004 this definition was completely unfamiliar with most Vietnamese travel firms?
My life changed in 2002 when I read an article on ‘E-startup businesses’ while on business in Malaysia. Coming back home, knowing that I had the experience and desire to develop a high quality service company focusing 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, 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.
Could you please share your thoughts about the obstacles that a Vietnam travel company has to face?
This year, Luxury Travel was awarded ‘The Certificate of Excellence’ by Trip Advisor. Luxury Travel has also been nominated for ‘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.
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.
How do you protect “Luxury Travel” and differentiate your brand and website from others?
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 shared 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 with other travel companies, how is Luxury Travel different?
It is our people. Our Luxer team members make the difference. We are proud of our qualified and highly skilled personnel who are the masters in 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.
What is the target market for 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 dollar 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 about the domestic Vietnamese 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. Many Vietnamese clients book this new experience. Quite often the cruises are fully booked, especially around festivals. We have found that when you have a good product, you always have the competitive advantage.
Twenty years ago, ‘luxury’ was defined by your car and your house, but nowadays it is also defined by your experiences. What do think you think about this?
In my view, ‘luxury’ refers to home luxury, personal luxury and luxury service and luxury travel is part of that. The trend shows that people desire unique, authentic 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. 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.