With a strong background in technology through many years working in global corporations, Mr. Tim Duong – former Country Manager Vietnam of Booking.com has brought into play his strengths to lead Booking.com to the top in the Vietnam market. Recently, he has emerged as Founder and CEO of Emerging Capital Group – a property investment management firm for hospitality in Vietnam.

Destination Review had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Tim Duong about his development journey in tourism industry, as well as his turning point when he chose to start his business Emerging Capital Group.

Becoming Country Manager Vietnam of Booking.com is my first transformation into tourism industry. Booking Holdings, named Priceline Group at that time, was thriving in many other countries, but the Booking.com brand  appear on the map of neither tourism industry nor technology industry in Vietnam back then. I saw huge growth potential for Booking.com in Vietnam in the future. Although at that time, I did not have any experience in the hospitality industry, I still accepted to take that position because I wanted to challenge myself to do new things and can contribute values to Vietnam.

In my opinion, everyone can learn in a new field as long as they are logical and have a fundamental foundation. In my case, technology was the foundation I had. When I joined Booking.com, I also had to learn everything about tourism like a newbie, but based on my background in technology and business knowledge, I believed that I could lead Booking.com in the Vietnam market.

There are always a lot of new things to be researched when entering a new field, from the technical vocabulary of both the business and the industry, to how to make use of the huge reports and data warehouse. However, those were predictable difficulties and I didn’t perceive them as obstacles. I worked, learned, and at the same time equipped myself with the knowledge to quickly integrate into the industry and grasp an overview of tourism industry so that I can identify opportunities and challenges. At the same time, I tried to applied my knowledge and background in the field to get new perspectives because, for me, innovation is very important in business.

Leading Booking.com when it was still underdeveloped in Vietnam was also a big challenge to me, but I believed that Vietnam tourism sector has great potential to further breakthrough. Learning the core knowledge, updating myself while keeping innovating and regularly assessing the results helped me overcome the initial difficulties and led Booking.com to the first position in Vietnam market.

I wanted to create values for customers, hotel owners, and for Vietnam market. I wanted to contribute to society as well as challenge myself and boost business goals. One of the important business indicators of large corporations is year-over-year growth. During the time working at Booking.com, I have driven this number of Vietnam market to the highest of all markets in the world. It is proof of success thanks to strategies, business ideas, and teamwork. Such achievements motivate me to stick and strive to achieve and contribute more achievements.

Besides, the great development potential of Vietnam tourism sector also motivated me to develop more. Travel demand of everyone has always existed and will increase. Vietnam tourism in previous years developed very strongly and only slowed down when Covid-19 happened. However, the Covid-19 pandemic also facilitated domestic tourism to grow asa lot of new opportunities have emerged for the tourism-related sectors, especially the online service sectors, to realize their development potentials. These new opportunities, if properly utilized, can bring a lot of value to Vietnam market.

While working at Booking.com, I had access to a lot of world-leading technologies and knowledge. However, there were many ideas in my capability that I could have done for my partners and for Vietnam market. When Covid-19 happened and made direct impact on hoteliers, I realized that reviving the whole hospitality industry was out of the reach of just a business. There should be integrated solutions to promote and support hotels to make a real breakthrough. The idea of Emerging Capital Group was born from that.

The Vietnam hospitality market is evaluated as a potential market and it has a great opportunity to enhance its value. In my opinion, it needs comprehensive breakthrough solutions to achieve this, especially in terms of technology and marketing. I hope the emergence of Emerging Capital Group can support hotels to increase their values, develop many different aspects even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Startups may face many difficulties but I’m not afraid of difficulties, I only afraid when I have no goals in life. I know what my goals are and always want to learn, innovate, combine my background and experiences to create new opportunities, new values for everyone. Not everyone is an inventor, but we all have our own creativity and ways to make things better. Therefore, I decided to start Emerging Capital Group to do what I want. Emerging Capital Group was born amid Covid-19 and I believe this is the right time.

I believe in the purpose and values that Emerging Capital Group can bring to investors, hoteliers, and travelers in Vietnam. Hotels can enhance their values with the support of our technology platforms and thereby, Emerging Capital Group can bring high-value assets with affordable costs to investors. Applying digital solutions in this time will play a key role in recovering travel and make things easier and more optimal.

The thing I have learned most from my journey is to inspire people. When you understand the values of what you do, you can inspire others whether you are a leader or not. When you do for people, people will do for you. It is very important and valuable.

The second thing I want to share is that not taking any action means you have surrendered to failure. I believe that “when there’s a will, there’s a way”, and in every crisis lies an opportunity for you to seize and find supporters. Success is not just defined by numbers, there are many different definitions of success. At least when you take action, you will learn something. There is a saying I really like that people regret the things they should have done rather than regret the things they have done. So, when you believe that this is the right time and you can do it, just do it.

Thank you so much for your sharing today!

#Shine-A-Light is a series drawing the personal portraits and career paths of remarkable individuals working in tourism and travel.

Mr. Tim Duong: “Not taking any action means you have surrendered to failure”


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