A Vietnamese success story in Austria

January 28, 2019 | 08:00
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As one of the most famous businessmen in Austria, Ho Xuan Thai, or Thai Ho, has emerged as a Vietnamese business symbol in the European nation in the sector of restaurants, events, and nightclubs. He talked with VIR’s Thanh Tung about the ups and downs of his journey to success with famous brand name DOTS.
a vietnamese success story in austria
Ho Xuan Thai

DOTS is known in Austria as an outstanding success story. However, you have rarely been seen to seek out media attention. Do you think that you are reserved?

Well I think all achievements must come from our brainpower. I have carried out things with all my heart. When I feel pleased with what I do, other people will also feel that. I am lucky enough to live and work in one of the best business climates in the world.

I came to Austria in 1990 with five negatives: no foreign language, no career, no relations, no health, and especially no money. I set a goal to try my best to work and study, so that Austrians would see that Vietnamese people were second-to-none in the world. We must take pride in our Vietnamese nation, and we should help foreigners learn more about Vietnam. If I can’t do that, my son and my descendants will hopefully do so.

How and why did you create DOTS?

I began my business in 2005 in Vienna, and I then thought about a name. I saw that DOTS might refer to “rendezvous”. My son and his girlfriend, who was then studying design, created a logo which included the word “DOTS” and 13 small dots around it. This represents my determination to successfully establish 13 businesses in my life. And today, I can say that I have realised my dream.

Are there any more dreams lined up for the future?

I have many dreams, but regrettably I am becoming older. However my son, Martin Ho, has been undertaking my business successfully. He was born in 1986 and began to partake in my business when he was 17 years old. At the age of 19, he was recognised as the youngest businessperson with a restaurant producing revenue of over €2 million annually. Currently, he is a well-known businessman in Austria. He is a close friend of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who was also born in 1986.

Currently I have 10 restaurants, two nightclubs, and one Gallery of Pictures and contemporary art installation. I also have about 300 employees. Our restaurants offer assorted types of food, including Asian dishes, especially Vietnamese food.

In addition, DOTS also acquired Austrian golf magazine Perfect Eagle and published a cookbook named DOTS Booking, introducing the culinary culture of Vietnam and the world. Part of the earnings from book sales is donated to Austria’s funds for the disabled.

In 2013, DOTS was awarded the Oscar for Austria, in the service sector.

More recently, during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s visit to Austria, our family was invited to attend the reception at the Austrian chancellor’s palace, and met with PM Phuc.

What is your assessment of the business and investment climate in Austria?

Well, it is quite favourable. I do not face many difficulties here, as the country’s legal system is very clear. This has helped me rank fourth in the sector of restaurants and entertainment in Austria. The number of guests taxiing to our establishments is the fourth-highest in the Vienna. In this city, there are five types of locations that people frequent the most. First are airports and stations, then museums, opera houses, our establishments in fourth spot, and finally hospitals.

Based on your story, what can you see from the aspiration and ambition of Vietnamese people working overseas?

Vietnamese people are diligent and creative, but in many cases they struggle to find success due to both subjective and objective reasons. Vietnamese people are intelligent, and this can make some famous worldwide. Pupils and students often get high scores in international-level examinations which is very interesting evidence. I feel proud of my country. It’s true that many Vietnamese businesses have been successful in doing business overseas.

Vietnam is in dire need of businessmen such as yourself. Have you ever thought about implementing a project in this country?

" When an enterprise wants to do something, it must adapt to and integrate into the surrounding environment, and correctly understand the country it wants to invest in, along with its people. "

It is not so much different to invest domestically or overseas, but the problem is that you cannot split yourself into two parts to invest in different projects both at home and abroad. Personally, when I do anything I must do it with all of my heart. If I tried to carry out projects both in Vietnam and Austria, they may be not successful. I do want to implement a project in Vietnam but now is not suitable as I am just too busy.

I also think that for any nation, one of the most important things lies in the awareness of its people. When people’s knowledge is improved, the strength of the entire economy will also be enhanced.

In order to attract good investors, Vietnam needs to further improve its business and investment climate, with legal frameworks in line with international practices. In many nations like Austria, laws and regulations are quite clear and transparent, making it very easy for enterprises to develop.

So what does the business environment need in order to develop effectively here?

To put it simply, I would say that besides a favourable business climate created by authorised agencies to enterprises, it is important that enterprises must understand themselves clearly. This means when an enterprise wants to do something, it must adapt to and integrate into the surrounding environment, and correctly understand the country it wants to invest in, along with its people.

After gaining good understanding about these things, the enterprise must understand whether its products will be accepted or not. They all want their products to be welcomed. However in many cases, after the products are marketed, they are simply not welcomed enough.

But why have I been successful so far in Vienna? I have done things after thorough consideration. Before starting anything, I must figure out the specific outcomes of my project, and what I will have to face, as well as what opportunities I will have to grab. I never wait until customers come to me.

In a nutshell, only after understanding 100 per cent of a project can we be successful. We should not wait until we receive customer feedback and then correct shortcomings. If we do that, we can never keep customers or win their full confidence.

For instance, when I open a restaurant, we have to think about what people like and what segments for what types of customers we need to focus on. In the restaurant, I have to think about where the customers will sit and what dishes will be served. I have to think about how to please customers, and not only in terms of food and drinks.

Thus the restaurant must have suitable space for each type of customer. This has big implications. For example, when a customer goes out to eat in the restaurant, he usually does not want to eat quickly and then return home. This means that we must create a very comfortable space for the customer, and that they do not come to the restaurant just to eat, but to enjoy what he cannot find in other places.

Eating is not as important as enjoying and playing and relaxing. Thus we must especially understand customer psychology. They can be rich people, and they require premium services. We have to create such services. Our restaurants and nightclubs must be places where they can show themselves off and relax, and even potentially seek business partners.

Your journey to success must have come with difficulties. Would you like to share any of the obstacles?

No gain without pain. I have had to weather all difficulties. I have no habit of talking about them, because all businessmen face them. For me, I do everything by myself. I have no fear. I try my best when I do anything. I believe that if you have confidence, you can become a winner in any market.

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