AccorHotels – a world-leading travel, lifestyle, and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,600 hotels, resorts and residences across 100 different countries – has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first luxury hotel opening in Ho Chi Minh City. Patrick Basset, chief operating officer for Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia and the Maldives, shares with VIR’s Bich Ngoc about the group’s development strategy.
|Major operators such as AccorHotels benefit even more from Vietnam’s impressive growth|
Firstly, congratulations on the 20th anniversary of the opening of Sofitel Saigon Plaza. What is behind the development strategy of AccorHotels in Vietnam?
|Patrick Basset, chief operating officer for Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia and the Maldives|
In Vietnam we are already the biggest hotel operator with around 45 per cent of internationally-branded hotel rooms, as many as in Bangkok. That also means that we are far ahead of our competitors in major markets such as Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea, as well as in Europe and Africa. We are even catching up across the American continent, and leading in South America.
After 27 years we have earned much success here. The first key achievement is the aforementioned biggest operator status that we enjoy in Vietnam. Secondly, we think that we are now better known with Vietnamese partners, and we are the first choice in terms of a management company for partners. We have been developing excellent relationships with our partners whether they are the government, institutions, or particular individuals. Last but not least, I am proud to have a skilful group of more than 7,000 employees in our system in Vietnam. Many of those are Vietnamese, holding key positions in the management level.
How is Vietnam important towards the strategy of AccorHotels development?
Vietnam is important to us for different reasons. The country is the one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia Pacific region, and the fourth-largest population in Asia. Vietnam has a very dynamic domestic market with total number of travellers currently at 86 million, an impressive increase of 20 per cent a year. In addition the outbound market also very big, especially people from Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hanoi. There are an increasing number of Vietnamese people booking via our channel to visit other countries, especially Japan, Thailand, Singapore and many others. The potential in Vietnam for Accor is very huge. We are in all major cities already but now we are beginning to develop hotels in specific destinations such as Sapa (Lao Cai province), Halong and Cat Ba (Quang Ninh province), Ninh Binh and Quang Binh provinces, Cam Ranh and Phu Quoc, and cities in the Mekong Delta. So far we have 28 hotels in operation in Vietnam – 18 more are under construction and will be put into operation in 2020.
This is a very impressive recent development. You must be confident of further success here?
Yes. Accor is a huge trust brand and we have been diversifying our business to all segments of the market. We have solutions for anybody with any budget, from top luxury to an affordable level. Vietnam has now a growth of 20 per cent of domestic visitors annually over recent years, compared to only 4 or 5 per cent a decade ago.
Vietnam is a modernising country and it has been continuing investment in the infrastructure system, which has been supportive to tourism development. And so I believe that we can reach 16 to 17 million inbound tourists this year, and we are heading to 20 million in the near future.
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