InterContinental Saigon goes back to basics to enhance customer experience

February 08, 2024 | 13:00
(0) user say
Tourism results for Vietnam were decent in 2023, but the country is hoping for a stellar 2024 to get the industry fully on track. General manager of InterContinental Saigon Justin Malcolm shared with VIR’s Hoang Dan his inside experiences of operating and managing the luxury hotel in the southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City in that direction.

How do you evaluate the role and performance of international hotel management groups like IHG in promoting Vietnam’s tourism and attracting international travellers?

InterContinental Saigon goes back to basics to enhance customer experience
Justin Malcolm, general manager of InterContinental Saigon

We all have a role to play in promoting the destinations we have presence in. First and foremost, we need to evaluate the offerings of Vietnam and then evaluate the alignment of marketing teams to place these against the major segments we attract.

I tend to look specifically at compelling story telling, or a compelling reason for our tourist segment. Through this process, it’s easy to identify any gaps in communication to specific target audiences and, as a result, close them fast. I also evaluate their role and performance based on factors like the quality of services they provide, and their ability to create positive experiences for international guests. Essentially, we gauge their impact on boosting Vietnam’s appeal to travellers and bringing in more visitors to explore the country.

What specific policies or incentives do Vietnam’s government and related authorities need to issue to encourage foreign businesses to invest in Vietnam’s hotels and tourism?

To encourage foreign businesses to invest in Vietnam’s hotel and tourism sectors, the government and related authorities could implement specific policies and incentives.

These could include offering tax incentives, reduced import duties, and other financial benefits to foreign investors in the hotel and tourism industry. We could also do with simplifying and expediting the bureaucratic procedures for obtaining permits, licences, and approvals related to hotel and tourism investments.

Vietnam must continually invest in and improve infrastructure such as airports, roads, and public transportation to enhance accessibility and overall tourism experience is essential. In addition, it should collaborate with foreign businesses to promote Vietnam as a tourist destination through marketing campaigns, trade shows, and international events.

What solutions have you prioritised to make your hotel a must-choice venue for both local and international high-spend travellers in 2024?

We’re very focused now on the basics. We learnt in 2023 that we must be more adaptable to market trends and have the ability to flex our cost structures quickly. In addition, we need to continue to enhance our guest experience, and I believe this to be central to all efforts to position ourselves as a must-stay venue.

Our packages and promotions have to resonate with specific target audiences, as clients now look for highly curated experiences. Lastly, our marketing campaigns need to be strategic and compelling. We’re investing in targeted campaigns across various platforms to increase visibility, both locally and internationally.

InterContinental Saigon goes back to basics to enhance customer experience

Ho Chi Minh City is expected to be a hot spot for business and events tourism, also known as MICE. Have you got any supportive activities to promote this type of tourism further afield?

InterContinental Saigon recognises the potential of the city as a hotspot for MICE tourism. To actively promote this type of tourism and position the hotel on the world MICE tourism map, we have implemented a range of supported activities.

We have placed invested in state-of-the-art meeting and conference facilities, equipped with the latest technology, to accommodate a variety of MICE events. This includes conference rooms, boardrooms, and exhibition spaces designed to meet international standards, and we’ve recently completed a $3.8 million renovation of our conference centre.

The hotel offers customised packages that cater to the specific needs of corporate clients and event organisers. These packages include comprehensive services such as event planning, catering, and accommodation tailored to the requirements of relevant participants.

We have established strategic partnerships with local and international organisations involved in the MICE industry. This includes collaborations with event planners, conference organisers, and industry associations to enhance our reach and attract a diverse range of events.

Our marketing efforts are targeted towards promoting Ho Chi Minh City as a preferred destination for such tourism. We actively participate in global exhibitions, trade shows, and promotional events to showcase our hotel and the city’s capabilities.

We also offer incentive programmes for organisers, providing attractive discounts, perks, and value-added services for events booked at our hotel. This encourages event planners to choose InterContinental Saigon as their venue of choice.

Recognising the importance of technology in these types of events, we have integrated advanced audiovisual equipment, high-speed internet, and other tech solutions to facilitate seamless and engaging conferences and meetings.

Our commitment to providing exceptional service extends to MICE events. We have a dedicated events team trained to handle the intricacies of large conferences and ensure a smooth and successful experience for participants. Through these supported activities, InterContinental Saigon aims to contribute to the growth of MICE tourism in Ho Chi Minh City.

InterContinental Saigon goes back to basics to enhance customer experience

Besides traditional unique services, how do you operate your property towards green and sustainable trends?

At IHG, we have the Green Engage system that consists of over 200 practices for sustainability, divided into four levels. At the moment, InterContinental Saigon is proudly at Level 3, which means we have a strong sustainability foundation in place.

We went from choosing local suppliers to reducing the water and detergents by having our guests opt for not replacing linen and towelling daily, to reducing food surplus with the help of organisations such as VietHarvest.

We are working on water dispensing solutions for both guestrooms and event guests. As the city’s leading conference hotel, I believe such moves will allow us to drastically lower the amount of single-use plastics.

InterContinental Saigon unveils Ly Ngu Vong Nguyet mooncake collection InterContinental Saigon unveils Ly Ngu Vong Nguyet mooncake collection

Ahead of the Mid-Autumn Festival, InterContinental Saigon is presenting its 2023 mooncake collection with two elegant and sophisticated box designs.

A glamorous season at Intercontinental Saigon A glamorous season at Intercontinental Saigon

In celebration of the most glamorous season of the year, InterContinental Saigon invites you to embark on a whimsical journey into a wonderland of dining, gifting, and treasured moments.

Tet 2024 Hamper Collection by Intercontinental Saigon Tet 2024 Hamper Collection by Intercontinental Saigon

On the occasion of Lunar New Year 2024, the Year of the Dragon, InterContinental Saigon is proud to deliver its newest Tet Hamper Collection Xuan Hoa, Tet Rong with two exquisite designs to praise this Zodiac.

By Hoang Dan

What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional