After 29 years in the industry, tourism and aviation have become a part of Mr. Ngo Minh Duc, Chairman of HG Holdings. He consistently pursues his dream of building a decent company and aims for the 100-year milestone.
On the 25th anniversary of this year, Destination Review had the opportunity to meet him, the founder of HG Holdings, to learn about the captain’s vision and perspective when steering the “HG boat” firmly towards many crucial milestones in the future.
My dream is to build a 100-year-old company and to do that, the core element is integrity – focus on customer and product quality. If the company puts profit first with short-term business goals, it will not be able to grow to 100 years. Towards that century milestone, HG Holdings previously did not celebrate 5 years, 10 years, or 15 years, until this year it was a quarter of a century that we celebrated, and the next milestone is 50 years.
In addition, what I am most proud of so far is that HG Holdings is one of the few Vietnamese companies in general, and in the tourism industry in particular, focusing on technology. People in the travel industry started talking more about digital transformation in the last few years, but I had a vision of it more than 10 years ago. With the vision of long-term company development based on technology, HG Holdings has been investing in technology since 2014.
Another important factor is concentration. Unlike some companies in the tourism industry that expand and develop by investing in real estate, I want HG Holdings to stay true to its core value, which is to focus on tourism development. Our ecosystem includes many services such as Travel, Aviation, Accommodation, and OTA, but it all revolves around the axis of the travel industry. This plays a vital role in building a sustainable tourism ecosystem towards the 100-year milestone.
The first and main thing is to build a solid team, especially the next generation of managers. Senior and middle managers play a key role in the stable running of the company. Once I have good managers, I will definitely empower them to be more proactive and help me run the company.
I have made it very clear that it is not possible to grow a company alone. As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. It is not easy but we must be determined to build a strong team for the company to develop in the long term.
Growing a large company will need many talented people working towards the same goal, and the leader must work to make everyone benefit and satisfy. For example, applying policies on sharing profits and shares for employees in the company. When holding shares, people will also be more responsible and dedicated to contributing to the company.
When running the company, I always keep two things in mind: kindness and transparency. Our team only accepts people with integrity, and absolutely prohibits cheating. I also aspire to build a company where everyone advances together and treats each other like family.
In order to develop such personnel, in my opinion, the key point is to create a good team spirit, ready to understand and support each other. In addition, I often emphasize to people about dedication and hard work. For me, to be successful, hard work is the number one priority, with hard work, skills and abilities will be improved. And my hardest job is to find such personnel.
Unlike other industries, the tourism industry has a very low-profit margin. Therefore, the current tourism industry in general, not only HG Holdings, is facing a shortage of skilled and experienced personnel, especially after the recent Covid-19 epidemic. A lot of employees have moved to other industries such as real estate or finance and now they do not return, because those industries have a much higher profit margin
Our main business is HG Travel. As a tour operator, we have to depend a lot on different suppliers. Imagine in a chain, a travel agency is an intermediary link, connecting different products and services from vehicles, accommodations, and restaurants, to sightseeing destinations. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the quality at all stages, we can only try our best to choose the most reputable and honest partners.
Besides, tourism in Vietnam in general has a big challenge which is the low rate of returning international visitors. This problem has many causes, but some of the main causes are lack of safety, poor transport infrastructure, price pressure, and there are many disadvantages for visitors when approaching such as difficult visa regulations. In essence, both Vietnamese and international tourists are able and willing to pay high prices for travel services, but what people hate the most are deception and non-transparency.
If the service and product are good, they will be willing to pay a high price, but Vietnam still has a lot of “Bait and Switch”, not transparent in costs, leading to a very bad impression for the tourism industry. Therefore, it is extremely important to improve service quality, train staff, and find ways to optimize organization, operation, and cost, in order to create the most convenience and transparency for visitors. Small changes will contribute to a great experience for visitors.
I predict 2023 will be very difficult and challenging for both the tourism industry and the economy. The current global economic crisis will significantly affect tourism revenue next year. When the economy is unstable, the first thing people have to do is cut spending and the first cut-off is tourism. I think we need to face the current situation directly, and should not be too optimistic that tourism will recover well when the Covid-19 epidemic is under control.
Recently, at the World Tourism Forum held in Bali, we could see the lagging behind of Vietnam’s tourism compared to many other countries from tourism indicators. The number of visitors in the 10 months of 2022 to Vietnam is only 20% compared to the same period before the epidemic. That number is too small, while some other countries have recorded results that are close to that of before the epidemic such as the US, or Greece.
In the general level of Vietnam’s tourism industry, HG Holdings is still quite fortunate to have stability above the average line. Our inbound customers have returned 60-70% already. That is a good sign for us to confidently enter the new year compared to the industry average. The aviation segment is also returning gradually, but in terms of technology, there are still many difficulties.
With the economy bleak next year, we will have to optimize operations by cutting costs and increasing labor productivity. If employees are unproductive and unqualified, they are forced to cut, especially in high-paying positions, they will have to bring higher productivity, or else they will be fired. That is the general trend to deal with difficult economic situations, and so should we. As the captain of HG Holdings, in order to steer the ship out of the storm, I must be willing to remove unnecessary things from the ship to make it faster and more stable.
Thank you for your sharing!