THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH DESTINATION REVIEW !

Stay updated with our breaking news and insightful viewpoint on tourism business, management and development.

    By submitting this form you agree to receive email communication from Destination Review
    eng-1

    Vietnam’s tourism industry is heavily affected by Covid-19 as a lot of tourism businesses have closed down in a short time. This reality poses for tourism businesses the question of how to face, manage and overcome the crisis as well as develop their businesses sustainably.

    Released in April 2020, the report “Vietnam tourism destination post C-19 recovery plan” of Outbox Consulting emphasized the need to invest in market research, portrait target customers to promptly seize the changes of market trends as well as sketch out behavioral characteristics of target travelers, thereby contributing more effectively to the goal of market diversification, communication and local product development. Destination Review had an opportunity to chat with Ms. Thu Nguyen (Nguyen Anh Thu) – Chief Research Officer at Outbox Consulting, a pioneer startup in Vietnam providing in-depth independent research and consulting solutions in tourism & hospitality to learn more about this.

    Ms. Thu Nguyen holds a Master degree in International Tourism & Hospitality Management of James Cook University in Australia, and eight-year experience working in the tourism industry and teaching Tourism at some universities in Ho Chi Minh City.

    eng-2

    Can you share more about the reality of Vietnam tourism businesses and is the lack of research as a foundation the main reason why businesses suffer more damage from Covid-19?

    Can you share more about the reality of Vietnam tourism businesses and is the lack of research as a foundation the main reason why businesses suffer more damage from Covid-19?

    To answer this question, one of the first reasons to mention is that Vietnam’s tourism sector is still quite new compared to many other economic sectors. The fast development of Vietnam tourism without a clear system makes those who work in tourism not really understand the structure of the sector, the components as well as their roles. When Vietnam becomes a tourism destination, all businesses and tourist attraction activities have grown spontaneously thanks to the strengths of the available natural resources instead of a clear plan and strategy.

    In addition, so far people working in tourism in Vietnam make decisions mostly based on not data but mainly on subjective experience, feelings and evaluation. Therefore, when a crisis occurs like current, tourism businesses easily become perplexed. Before Covid-19, Vietnam was an attractive destination; however, as I have just mentioned, this kind of development is mostly spontaneous, with little understanding to manage proactively. Therefore, when Covid-19 broke out and left severe consequences, tourism businesses start wondering how to attract travelers again but fail to find the answer from proper approaches.

    In short, the current difficulties Vietnam tourism businesses are facing are affected by many factors and Covid-19 is just the last straw making the consequences more visible. It is the incapability to understand the sector, to pay enough attention to research to build data foundations that one of the factors affecting the ability of businesses to overcome the crisis and recover.

    To answer this question, one of the first reasons to mention is that Vietnam’s tourism sector is still quite new compared to many other economic sectors. The fast development of Vietnam tourism without a clear system makes those who work in tourism not really understand the structure of the sector, the components as well as their roles. When Vietnam becomes a tourism destination, all businesses and tourist attraction activities have grown spontaneously thanks to the strengths of the available natural resources instead of a clear plan and strategy.

    In addition, so far people working in tourism in Vietnam make decisions mostly based on not data but mainly on subjective experience, feelings and evaluation. Therefore, when a crisis occurs like current, tourism businesses easily become perplexed. Before Covid-19, Vietnam was an attractive destination; however, as I have just mentioned, this kind of development is mostly spontaneous, with little understanding to manage proactively. Therefore, when Covid-19 broke out and left severe consequences, tourism businesses start wondering how to attract travelers again but fail to find the answer from proper approaches.

    In short, the current difficulties Vietnam tourism businesses are facing are affected by many factors and Covid-19 is just the last straw making the consequences more visible. It is the incapability to understand the sector, to pay enough attention to research to build data foundations that one of the factors affecting the ability of businesses to overcome the crisis and recover.

    In your opinion, what role does research play in business activities and sustainable tourism development of enterprises?

    In your opinion, what role does research play in business activities and sustainable tourism development of enterprises?

    Theoretically, research is an indispensable part in any business plan of any enterprise, which partly shows the importance of research, yet it makes people feel strictly tied-up and pressured when referring to research. However, in my opinion, research is simply a way to find the answer or find the foundation information for an answer to a problem.

    The role of research depends on the specific needs of businesses. For example, for tourism business entrepreneurs, the first important thing is to have a clear understanding of the sector or the target segment in order to position their enterprises or explore niche markets. A new tourism enterprise also needs to do research to understand their potential target customer groups. But in cases that a business has been in operation for a while and the leaders want to develop a new product, the business then needs to research focusing on how to develop a new product to meet the target customers’ demands and preferences.

    The role of research in tourism is actually very diverse. Research can help businesses understand the sector, their target customers, their competitors or help a business build growth strategies. Precisely speaking, when businesses need a foundation to make strategic decisions, research is one of the sources of data to help businesses decide more objectively.

    Theoretically, research is an indispensable part in any business plan of any enterprise, which partly shows the importance of research, yet it makes people feel strictly tied-up and pressured when referring to research. However, in my opinion, research is simply a way to find the answer or find the foundation information for an answer to a problem.

    The role of research depends on the specific needs of businesses. For example, for tourism business entrepreneurs, the first important thing is to have a clear understanding of the sector or the target segment in order to position their enterprises or explore niche markets. A new tourism enterprise also needs to do research to understand their potential target customer groups. But in cases that a business has been in operation for a while and the leaders want to develop a new product, the business then needs to research focusing on how to develop a new product to meet the target customers’ demands and preferences.

    The role of research in tourism is actually very diverse. Research can help businesses understand the sector, their target customers, their competitors or help a business build growth strategies. Precisely speaking, when businesses need a foundation to make strategic decisions, research is one of the sources of data to help businesses decide more objectively.

    So in the current context of Covid-19, does research play more special roles?

    So in the current context of Covid-19, does research play more special roles?

    Take the topic of stimulus policies which is mentioned a lot recently for example. From my experience, the tourist flow coming to Vietnam has always been natural so far, which unintentionally makes people working in tourism ignore this natural tourist group, and fail to understand as well as exploit them effectively. Tourism businesses usually categorize travelers just by their nationalities, missing out on other factors such as age, behavior, interest, or images of the destination which are decisive to attract travelers as well. Therefore, when businesses do not truly understand customers and can not identify the factors that attract and meet travelers’ demands, the stimulus packages may not be really effective.

    In my opinion, Covid-19 poses both challenges and advantageous opportunities: challenges are the difficulties for businesses, which we all have seen, while the opportunities are that Covid-19 is taking the entire tourism sector in the world back to the starting point. Countries with older tourism sector also return to the starting point like Vietnam. Currently, countries around the world are trying to implement tourism stimulus policies and so tourists receive a lot of promotional messages from many destinations. Therefore, tourists will only choose the destination that really meets their needs and impresses them after the pandemic. Successfully impressing customers to attract them to visit Vietnam comes from the fact that businesses have to understand their customers. This is a challenge yet an opportunity for Vietnam tourism sector to transform in the new stage.

    Take the topic of stimulus policies which is mentioned a lot recently for example. From my experience, the tourist flow coming to Vietnam has always been natural so far, which unintentionally makes people working in tourism ignore this natural tourist group, and fail to understand as well as exploit them effectively. Tourism businesses usually categorize travelers just by their nationalities, missing out on other factors such as age, behavior, interest, or images of the destination which are decisive to attract travelers as well. Therefore, when businesses do not truly understand customers and can not identify the factors that attract and meet travelers’ demands, the stimulus packages may not be really effective.

    In my opinion, Covid-19 poses both challenges and advantageous opportunities: challenges are the difficulties for businesses, which we all have seen, while the opportunities are that Covid-19 is taking the entire tourism sector in the world back to the starting point. Countries with older tourism sector also return to the starting point like Vietnam. Currently, countries around the world are trying to implement tourism stimulus policies and so tourists receive a lot of promotional messages from many destinations. Therefore, tourists will only choose the destination that really meets their needs and impresses them after the pandemic. Successfully impressing customers to attract them to visit Vietnam comes from the fact that businesses have to understand their customers. This is a challenge yet an opportunity for Vietnam tourism sector to transform in the new stage.

    The “new normal” phrase has been mentioned a lot recently but it will depend on each person instead of being a specific definition. It is what actions businesses are taking right now that shape a “new normal” for Vietnam tourism. If businesses have a broader and more solid grounding, they will shape a more positive “new normal”. Therefore, if Vietnam tourism sector has a good foundation and the right strategy at this time, we can definitely breakthrough and develop faster.

    The “new normal” phrase has been mentioned a lot recently but it will depend on each person instead of being a specific definition. It is what actions businesses are taking right now that shape a “new normal” for Vietnam tourism. If businesses have a broader and more solid grounding, they will shape a more positive “new normal”. Therefore, if Vietnam tourism sector has a good foundation and the right strategy at this time, we can definitely breakthrough and develop faster.

    Tourism businesses have certain misconceptions about research, for example, they think research cost is high, or research can ensure the one-hundred-percent-possibility of business success. In your opinion, why do tourism businesses in Vietnam still not recognize and give due attention to research?

    Tourism businesses have certain misconceptions about research, for example, they think research cost is high, or research can ensure the one-hundred-percent-possibility of business success. In your opinion, why do tourism businesses in Vietnam still not recognize and give due attention to research?

    Personally, tourism businesses are somewhat aware of the need for business research, but their priority level to invest in is not high. Let’s take the example of the assumption about research requiring a high cost, in my opinion, the cost will depend on the objectives that businesses set for research. If businesses set clear objectives as well as limit the scope of research, the cost will be reduced.

    Furthermore, that assumption requires a clearer comparison, especially with the effectiveness of the research. If you only rely on the theoretical numbers, almost any activity related to business operation is expensive. But if compared with the total cost that enterprises spend on other activities for business operation, enterprises should evaluate the percentage that research cost accounts for and whether it is worthy or not. Another important factor is the comparison between the value that research brings and its cost.

    Many businesses assume that research in tourism is market research only, which is not true to be honest. For example, if already having data about Vietnam’s major market like Korea or China, tourism businesses do not need to conduct market research to learn about main markets anymore. However, if they do research to find out which of the above customer markets they are serving, the research scope will be smaller and the cost will also decrease. Research in tourism is not just market research but it can be customer portrait, consumer’s journey, competitor, value chains, etc.

    Tourism businesses in Vietnam should consider other open and broader aspects of research and remove original prejudices. Only by these will businesses find research more friendly and easier to approach.

    Personally, tourism businesses are somewhat aware of the need for business research, but their priority level to invest in is not high. Let’s take the example of the assumption about research requiring a high cost, in my opinion, the cost will depend on the objectives that businesses set for research. If businesses set clear objectives as well as limit the scope of research, the cost will be reduced.

    Furthermore, that assumption requires a clearer comparison, especially with the effectiveness of the research. If you only rely on the theoretical numbers, almost any activity related to business operation is expensive. But if compared with the total cost that enterprises spend on other activities for business operation, enterprises should evaluate the percentage that research cost accounts for and whether it is worthy or not. Another important factor is the comparison between the value that research brings and its cost.

    Many businesses assume that research in tourism is market research only, which is not true to be honest. For example, if already having data about Vietnam’s major market like Korea or China, tourism businesses do not need to conduct market research to learn about main markets anymore. However, if they do research to find out which of the above customer markets they are serving, the research scope will be smaller and the cost will also decrease. Research in tourism is not just market research but it can be customer portrait, consumer’s journey, competitor, value chains, etc.

    Tourism businesses in Vietnam should consider other open and broader aspects of research and remove original prejudices. Only by these will businesses find research more friendly and easier to approach.

    Can you share some advice for tourism businesses in doing research to develop their businesses?

    Can you share some advice for tourism businesses in doing research to develop their businesses?

    First, enterprises should be the ones to understand the most about their business characteristics. Therefore, in my opinion, instead of approaching research following the crowd, enterprises should question their actual needs and the problems they want to solve before considering whether research can provide information to help them answer. Once such objectives are identified, enterprises can approach research more effectively. Research is only helpful when enterprises do apply the results for clear objectives.

    First, enterprises should be the ones to understand the most about their business characteristics. Therefore, in my opinion, instead of approaching research following the crowd, enterprises should question their actual needs and the problems they want to solve before considering whether research can provide information to help them answer. Once such objectives are identified, enterprises can approach research more effectively. Research is only helpful when enterprises do apply the results for clear objectives.

    Second, research requires data and techniques. Enterprises that want to do research do not necessarily hire a third party but they can do it by themselves as long as their in-house team can guarantee these two factors.

    Finally, I want to emphasize that research is not a panacea. Research is not the solution to all problems but only a tool that businesses should consider when trying to find the answer for their puzzles.

    Second, research requires data and techniques. Enterprises that want to do research do not necessarily hire a third party but they can do it by themselves as long as their in-house team can guarantee these two factors.

    Finally, I want to emphasize that research is not a panacea. Research is not the solution to all problems but only a tool that businesses should consider when trying to find the answer for their puzzles.

    Thank you for all of your meaningful sharings!

    Thank you for all of your meaningful sharings!

    #Take-A-Sip is a series exploiting new perspectives from experts on striking issues in tourism and travel.

    TAKE-A-SIP: Research – the foundation for sustainable business and development in tourism

    THANKS FOR YOUR
    REGISTRATION!

    The requirement was accepted, please check your email for the document.
    Close