July 30, 2023
Representatives from Hanoi's hotels told The Hanoi Times about their plans to prepare for the surge of international guests with the open visa policy and their growth expectations in the coming times.
Santiago Cabré, General Manager of Meliá Hanoi
The open visa policy to extend the validity of e-visas from 30 to 90 days as of August 15 is good news to motivate the development of tourism activities, especially international tourism. At the hotel level, Meliá Hanoi has taken several initiatives to enhance the quality of service for long-stay guests.
In addition to offering customized long-stay packages with exclusive benefits, we also focus on the guest experience. Our team has undergone regular training to understand the needs and expectations of long-stay guests, anticipate and respond to issues that may arise during their stay, and earn guests' trust to promote loyalty and satisfaction.
Long-stay guests are entitled to special treatment at our hotel, including welcome amenities upon arrival and turndown service each night. In addition, the MeliaRewards program is designed to recognize and appreciate the loyalty of our guests at all Melia properties around the world. Based on the number of nights, stays and points, guests can build their membership and move up to a higher tier. Exclusive benefits for MeliaRewards members include complimentary room upgrades, The Level access, priority check-in, and late check-out.
Regarding sustainable tourism, Meliá Hanoi has been committed to responsible tourism for years, and our management group - Meliá Hotels International - was named the world's most sustainable hotel company in 2022 by the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA).
As a flagship property of the group, Meliá Hanoi has partnered with Diversity on several sustainability projects, such as Linens for Life and Soap for Hope. Both initiatives involve transforming materials such as leftover soap and old linens into new (sterilized) bars of soap and products for people in need, such as all-purpose bags, sleeping bags and stuffed animals for children and school uniforms. In 2022, we were the first hotel to launch PlasticShreds, an upcycling initiative that reuses plastic already in circulation.
We believe that the open visa policy will facilitate international arrivals and increase the competitiveness of Vietnamese tourism in the coming months. Once the government's proposal is approved, the tourism sector and authorities should be responsible for popularizing the new policy to the international community through various communication channels.
We also hope to attract more potential markets, especially from countries like India, which has the potential to become the second largest international tourism market for Vietnam. Sales growth is expected to increase by 80% compared to last year.
Christoph Marcel Strahm, General Manager of Pan Pacific Hanoi
As the government moves forward with the relaxation of tourist visas, we begin to create unique and attractive tourism products, implement seasonal promotions such as festive staycation, year-end party packages, travel-in-comfort packages, and ensure a safe destination for tourists traveling in Vietnam.
Pan Pacific Hotels Group has launched the Brand Experience Program, an initiative to bring the Pan Pacific brand to life in the guest experience to connect with guests from end-to-end and cultivate loyalty. From a gracious and welcoming host of Pan Pacific Ambassadors, a wide selection of signature meeting and event packages, to a sleep program focusing on bedding components, food and beverage, and booster services to enhance sleep quality, there's always something unique at the hotel to amaze our guests and make them feel at home.
More than just a marketing statement, sustainability is an integral part of our business philosophy. We strive to develop and implement a sustainable building program for our property, from reducing indoor infrared glare, optimizing chiller operations, reducing single-use plastic waste, to urban farming.
We believe that sustainability is a shared responsibility to create an ecosystem to protect human livelihood, including logistics and infrastructure. And we always consider a wide array of environmental, economic and social factors when making business decisions.
In cooperation with travel agents and companies, we have created "tailor-made on-demand" packages and activities such as opening performance of traditional dragon dance, cooking class, team building event ideas to cater to different size groups. For those who are on vacation or celebrating an anniversary, we offer room packages and promotional offers such as honeymoon, wedding anniversary or life celebration.
Alberto J. Lugo-Vina, General Manager of Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi
The extension of the visa waiver policy will give a strong boost to the tourism industry and help improve Vietnam's competitiveness in attracting visitors.
In addition, the new visa policy will be effective from August 15 - just in time for the peak season of Hanoi's hotel industry, which usually falls between late September and March of the following year. It would undoubtedly encourage both leisure and business travelers, allowing them to plan their itineraries to Vietnam with more flexibility and a greater tendency to extend their stays and thus increase their spending.
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a country with a more relaxed visa policy can increase the number of foreign visitors by 5-25%, while the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board expects 12 million tourist arrivals this year, far exceeding the previously set target of eight million.
Therefore, we have reason to believe that the sales figures for the fall-winter season will be very positive. We expect significant improvements in both occupancy and room rates compared to the same period in 2021 and 2020, and both figures are likely to return to those of 2019.
To prepare for this, Hotel de l'Opera Hanoi has been continuously taking various measures since the second quarter of this year, from improving facilities to enhancing personnel training, from diversifying promotional activities to evaluating guest experience.
Regarding personnel, we are working closely with human resources and our newly hired training manager to ensure each staff member has a personalized and professional training plan. A number of activities will be planned and organized throughout the year to keep our employees motivated and engaged.
In addition to improvements in facilities, products, service quality and staff, we also focus on our marketing strategy. The tourism market and demands after Covid-19 are so much different than before. The key is to keep up with the new trends, adjust our strategies to meet the new needs and adjust our promotional policies in a timely manner.
We recognize the importance of sustainability in tourism. In our ongoing effort to eliminate single-use plastics while continuing to provide the highest level of service and amenities, we are committed to reducing our environmental footprint.
We have removed all plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, replaced all plastic water bottles with high-quality glass bottles, and replaced travel-sized disposable plastic toiletries with reusable dispensers, among other initiatives. We also strive to communicate our efforts to guests and encourage them to participate in the hotel's sustainability journey.
Customers using travel agency channels are mainly those who travel in groups and expect a full package tour with everything planned for their vacation. Therefore, it is one of the important distribution channels that brings stable revenue to the hotel.
To prepare for the influx of tourists, we are working closely with agents who share similar target customers with us from potential markets such as India, Taiwan (China), Australia. We have worked with agents to add more attractive services to their package, such as a luxury high tea experience in the middle of their Hanoi excursions or a curated menu for lunch or dinner designed exclusively for each individual group.
We also place great emphasis on the quality of the hotel's service. Not only individual guests, but also guests traveling in groups should be well taken care of. Our members always maintain close contact with travel agents and tour guides to collect comments and take timely and immediate action to ensure guest satisfaction.
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