//ANANTARA HOTELS, RESORTS & SPAS, VIETNAM
Discover how a luxury brand uses technology to drive their guest experience
8 min read | BY NICK BONNEY
The Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas in Vietnam is a luxury hospitality brand for the modern traveler, connecting them to genuine places, people and stories through personal experiences, and providing heartfelt hospitality in the world’s most exciting destinations.
We recently had the pleasure of a working lunch in Ho Chi Minh City with Vincent Tung Tran, Head of Marketing for the Minor Hotels Vietnam (Anantara's parent company).
What distinguishes the Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas from other hotels in Vietnam and around the world?
In Vietnam, our hotel brand is well recognized for our great services, commitment to sustainability development and the unique experiences we offer our guests. For instance, our Dining by Design concept allow guests to create a dining experience at their own desired location, with a private chef and butler. Our chef will speak to the guests and learn about their appetite, preferred location, purpose and desires, so we can make their dining experience unforgettable. Our chef will then source fresh local produce and deliver a culinary journey that cannot be found anywhere else.
In addition, I’ve noticed the amount of returning guests to our properties, not just in Vietnam but on a global scale. We are trying to be innovative and implement new ideas, new experiences regularly. Every stay, guests would find something different and better than their last stay.
ABOVE: The Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas use their website in a clever and creative way to show their guest experience. Using an animated 24 hour clock over beautiful video footage they are able to tease a potential guest by showing all the amazing experience on offer. Notice they also make it extremely easy for the user to make a booking throughout the journey.
Your occupancy rates are high throughout the year - any advice for other hoteliers on how they can achieve ‘no vacancy'?
Just like weather, there are seasons for travelers. Achieving 'no vacancy' would be a dream for all hoteliers. For our hotels and resorts, we look at our feeder markets and learn about their patterns. For example, Vietnamese travellers can only travel during the following periods: Lunar New Year, Reunification Day, Labor Day, School holidays from June – August, and National Holiday. If a resort in Vietnam relied too much on the domestic travel market, they would find the rest of the year close to empty.
I would suggest diversifying the feeder markets, including short-haul and long-haul markets. Hoteliers need to identify which markets they would like to see more guests from. Start by really looking at the traffic to your website, learn about your audiences and then customize the offers to each segment.
We did a recent study case at Anantara Hoi An Resort, where one of the primary feeder markets is Japanese travelers. However, the majority of Japanese bookings were predominantly coming from OTAs. So, we thought 'what if we ran an ad campaign targeting people in Japanese instead of English?' Seems simple, but it's been a remarkable success. Since last year, we have seen a 30% increase in direct bookings from Japanese guests.
Guests prefer to communicate in their own language, and whilst English is considered the standard language for international communications, many people find it difficult to communicate with. The world now is so interconnected and our customers are from all corners of the globe but they still appreciate being spoken to in their language. To segment them into their own language would put you at an advantage in comparison to your competitors. OTAs have led by great example with all key languages available on their website. The easier you make it for guests to acquire information, the better chance you have to convert them quickly into making a booking with you.
How important is design to you when it comes to your brand, marketing and hotel experience? Is it important to follow the trends or do you have your own approach?
As a chain hotel, we have developed our brand guidelines to ensure our core values and messages are effectively communicated. Design always play an important part as it enhances the message we want to deliver. Clever design catches the attention of our audience, enticing them to find out more information about our products.
Can you please tell us about your brand and the story you have created?
Our stories focus on the experiences that guests will have at Anantara. For example, Anantara Hoi An Resort is the only riverside resort in downtown Hoi An with a private cruise to take our guests on a discovery journey of the scenic Thu Bon River. Not only we focus on PR for this unique feature, we also build our packages around this core offer.
What are your plans for developing the brand?
As mentioned, we focus on the experiences at the destinations where our hotels and resorts are located. We often send out a team to find new ideas, technology and activities to bring back and implement at our properties – such as local craft beers, Coravin technology and a 3D food printer.
In addition, as we are committed to promoting local cultures, we are organizing shows and themed events with the participation of local artists, musicians and dancers so guests can have more opportunity to explore the destinations through our specially designed offers.
Our chairman has said that, “Brand doesn’t build people, people build the brand.” Therefore, we focus intensively on the people, meaning our team members, our guests and the local people. The interactions between us and others are what makes our brand stronger.
What are some of the more interesting things you are doing to achieve ‘no vacancy’ ?
Travelers now come to a destination to look for an experience. For our hotels and resorts, besides the experiences that guests would normally find, we are working on creating various activities and new products to enhance the experience for our guests.
In October, we will launch the first art, dining, and mixology concept at our The Art Space restaurant. It will be the first place in Vietnam for both international and local artists to gather and display their works and guests will have the opportunity to find beautiful artworks curated by our in-residence artists. Apart from that, the food and drink offers in the restaurant will be “artistic” with live dessert, a 3D food printer and innovative cocktails.
What are some of the problems you've had along the way in attracting guests and building your brand?
Building a brand that works for everyone is a challenging process. Each guest has their own expectations and these expectations often change over the years as they return. This forces us to ensure we are always ahead in the market by learning from our competitors, market leaders and even other industries.
An example is the search engine algorithm. You really need to update your keywords and metatags constantly to ensure you are at the top – especially if you only have a small marketing budget.
Furthermore, changes from competitors and challenges from new players always play an important part in our daily decision making process.
Messaging can be complex too. Whilst we are always focusing on experiences, being able to convey the message clearly to our guests can be challenging. People are constantly bombarded by marketing across many different channels. Cutting through and winning a few seconds of their attention requires us to target and tailor our marketing with a relevant message, content, visual and great design.
Tell us a little about your target market? How do you best attract them and connect with them? You mentioned you have recently been expanding your target audience further into the ‘western market’. How has this been going for you? Anything working or not working?
It’s been working well for our AVANI resort in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. We have been able to shift the market from a pre-dominant Vietnamese audience to a more diverse markets which guests coming from EU and Australia. In addition, we partnered with other OTAs in their global partnership with key airlines, banks and corporations to maximize the billboard effect so guests will learn more about us.
With our second property in Quy Nhon which is the Anantara Quy Nhon Villas opening in November, we are building a destination page about Quy Nhon so people who have never heard about Quy Nhon before can know more about this upcoming destination.
How do provide the ultimate guest experience? Ie. before guests arrive, during their stay and after they leave?
We rely on new technology and CRM tools to set up different touch points from pre-arrival to post-departure. These tools allow us to email guests before they arrive and let them know about the weather for their stay, what to bring and relevant offers and experiences.
During their stay our team members are trained to remember guest names and preferences. This keeps us constantly informed into any experiences that would interest them or even what they'd like to eat or drink.
After they leave, our team follow up with emails for feedback so we can continually improve our services and offers. We also prepare local gifts for guests and send them a promo code so they can share with their friends and family. This increaes the potential of converting business for our hotels and resorts from an even wider audience.