Mr. Phan Xuan Anh, Chairman of Board of Members of Viet Excursions
According to Mr. Anh, the pandemic has changed the needs of tourists and the mindset of tourism service providers. Unless we catch up with new trends and make appropriate adaptations, it will be difficult to overcome the "obstacles", especially with the cruise industry.
As a unit with many years of working in tourism industry, especially in market research, what do you think should be done in the current recovery period?
Currently, a lot of new trends in tourism are being formed, which have a substantial influence over tourists’ trips. The first one is the "check-in" trend. Wherever they go, tourists will take the "check-in" photos at new spaces.
With smart phone, after taking the "check-in" photos, tourists will post on social networks immediately. This requires businesses to think of "check-in" places for their customers when developing the tourism products.
Regarding the second trend, COVID-19 leaves such a deep impression that tourists mainly travel in small groups. Therefore, servicing and pricing should also be completely different, which means providing service for either large groups of tourists, or groups of only 2 customers, 4 customers, 6 customers, etc., regardless of the size. This leads to a new requirement, involving privacy, private dining room, living room, hallway and so on.
For example, our partners have just required separate pick-up services for passengers. In addition, all cruises must replace common ventilation systems with separate ones.
These newly formed trends require service suppliers to actively develop suitable products or make adaptations on the existing platforms to create new highlights.
It is time for Hue's attractions, especially those in the heritage system, to come up with and form "check-in" places, along with investing the Wi-Fi system and selfie stations (self-taking pictures). In addition, resorts and accommodations should change their service perspectives, with accommodation being not only a sleeping place, but also a place retaining great impressions for tourists.
In Hue Festivals, there are many large-scale programs, but it is difficult for many tourists to approach them to take photos. This makes it impossible to advertise via photos on the Internet. This is an issue that the organizers need to take into account so that each tourist can gain access to the programs; creating "check-in" places for each visitor is an effective advertising channel.
The cruise bringing tourists to Chan May Port (prior to the pandemic)
Currently, tourism activities are gradually restarting. What is the cruise industry like, sir?
Gradually, the pandemic is being better controlled, especially when the whole world is beingvaccinated and the "vaccine passport" is also being considered. Therefore, it is not difficult to see tourism activities restarting. Tourism partners in cruise industry are very "impatient" to organize cruises crossing the ocean again.
As our partner in Europe informed, some cruises will resume operation on May 13th, and there will be an official cruise crossing the ocean in July. Particularly, after more than 1.5 years, Chan May Port will welcome back the first cruise this November. In the month of welcoming that first cruise, Chan May Port will welcome another 5 consecutive cruises.
To welcome tourists back to Vietnam in general and Hue in particular, we have to satisfy more than 40 requirements by our partners. It is essential that anti-pandemic precautions and safety measures set out by our partners be properly and fully met. Only when the customers see the precautions and safety measures will the cruise arrive. That is also the reason why we come to Hue this time. We have discussed with Chan May Port, and the two sides are making the initial preparation steps.
In the future, what should Hue do to attract cruise passengers, who are considered premium tourists?
This issue was raised quite a long time ago. As everyone has been informed, there are cruises with only about 10-15% of tourists to Chan May Port visiting Hue heritages. The rest go to Da Nang and Hoi An. Meanwhile, in terms of historical and cultural factors, Hue is the ancient capital, which is considered one of the cultural and historical "cradles" of Vietnam.
Time is a deciding factor, for cruise passengers have very little time to use the service. One obstacle has been partly resolved since the time it takes to move from Chan May Port to Hue City and vice versa has been significantly reduced. Even so, the remaining resistance is quite considerable, when it is still difficult to find parking space for large convoys, etc.
In the future, cruise passengers will continue to be premium tourists since the cost of traveling by cruise will increase significantly after the pandemic. The leaders of Thua Thien Hue Province affirmed that Hue would aim at exploiting these premium customers.
It can be seen that the two sides are heading towards the same goal, which is favorable for development. Hue will provide services to suit the needs of tourists; this will require specific work between cruise operators and Hue tourism industry.
As a person who has devoted many years to Hue tourism, what suggestions can you make for the "smoke-free industry" of the Ancient Capital?
Upon developing destinations, two factors should always be taken into consideration: who are tourists to Hue and who will bring them. According to statistics in 2020, about 50% of tourists were brought to Hue by businesses. Particularly in this year 2021, the above number is likely to decrease. When you understand the target customers and how they come to Hue, there will be corresponding solutions. Market research must be done continuously and periodically.
On a large scale, Hue needs to attract big corporations to lead the market with their own source of customers. Besides, Hue can consider inviting individual investors to come and hear their development strategy. It is also essential to take stronger actions as well as to ensure the best implementation of already issued plans, strategies, and resolutions.
Or a small scale, Hue needs to refine tourism service from the smallest details. When we came to Hue this time, we experienced the tour of wearing ao dai and riding Cyclo. The tour was outstanding, fascinating and fitting for cruise passengers. However, the operator did not provide drinking water, maps, and maybe a Hue Conical Hat, which would be really wonderful in hot weather. Although it is only a small detail, it is extremely important and leaves an impression on customers.
Thank you, Sir!
Story and photos: Quang Sang