The ‘home away from home’ experience at Sedona Suites

January 20, 2023 | 08:54
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Albert Lafuente, acting general manager of Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh City, shared with VIR’s Nhat Ha his inside experiences in managing and operating premier serviced residences in the south of the country.

How will the tourism and hospitality industry overcome the recent tough times?

Last year was a challenging year for everybody, but we saw an uptick in our business in Q4, both in rooms, and food and beverages (F&B), which we hope will be sustained.

Now, 2023 is a very promising year for us which calls for agility in the way we operate the property, we need to optimise resources, and ensure marketing channels will reach a wider audience thereby increasing our visibility. Being an independent property, we are not top of mind of clients compared to the ones aligned with globally known brands. We work harder and spend more per booking just to secure and protect our market share.

The challenge is not only optimising capability to secure a higher market share, but a key area where one must pay attention is staff retention and development. Hospitality is all about relationships and people, and how a host is able to provide meaningful services to guests. The world is ready to travel and we can see that this is already happening. We just hope that more flights will be launched covering key geographical markets that Vietnam used to enjoy before 2020.

The ‘home away from home’ experience at Sedona Suites
Albert Lafuente, acting general manager of Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh City

Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh City is known for premier serviced residences for expatriates to Vietnam. How did it perform in 2022?

In 2022, we were able to optimise our F&B business, both in onsite dining and events. We have experimented with our price points, leveraged our location, and offered the flexibility of our lone dining outlet as a venue for events and networking activities.

Our central location will continue to play an important role in making our F&B outlets’ success, as not many venues offer the open views that we have. Whilst our long-stay business has been stable even during the pandemic period, we saw the return of regional travellers pushing up the demand for short stays – both in leisure and business travel.

What are your target markets now and is there a difference compared to a few years ago?

We don’t discriminate as to whom we want to stay with us. Our target markets are those who appreciate our product and those who believe in the value we give them in terms of location and accessibility, service, and facilities both in-room and on property.

We are one of the very few serviced residences in the city centre with an excellent location on top of the city’s premier lifestyle destination. In terms of stays, we have the right product for everyone. We are completely flexible and can customise rates and services depending on guests’ preferences.

Vietnam remains our top market for short stays while Japan is our biggest market for extended stays. In terms of services, we are basically back to doing all that we provided our guests pre-pandemic, which includes the full operations of our F&B outlet.

The ‘home away from home’ experience at Sedona Suites
The ‘home away from home’ experience at Sedona Suites

Can we be optimistic about the tourism and hotel sector in the next couple of years?

Despite the potential increase in the cost of travel, people will resume travelling - be it for business or leisure, or both. With travellers becoming more adept with technology, business tourism will only become stronger in the years to come. That is why access to good Wi-Fi is a plus and at Sedona Suites, we have long realised this as we have increased our Wi-Fi capability. We now have some of the fastest connectivity among hotels in the area.

The local market will remain to be a potent source of business both for a short stay and extended stay for us. Staying in a property with extensive in-room facilities like ours has become integral to the preference to be in a “home away from home” location. Guests also clamour for more open public spaces.

At Sedona Suites, we are not only proud of our beautiful high-ceilinged double height lobby with stunning city views, but we also have extensive outdoor areas where we have our pool, kids’ playground, vertical living wall, and elevated gardens where our guests can enjoy some quiet time.

Does Sedona have any special promotions for loyal guests or long-term stays?

Our long-term guests enjoy the best rates and the best amenities that a property can provide. They are crucial to us as this segment constitutes the biggest percentage of our business. We are still looking for the right partner to provide us with a platform for guests’ loyalty programmes. We are looking at some options and we will soon launch this once we’ve found the right provider.

Meanwhile, we continue to personalise the stays of our guests. We celebrate their birthdays, we send thank you cards and amenities for those who are extending their stays, and we organise quarterly events for them like Mid-Autumn Festival, Halloween, and most recently, our first-ever Christmas tree lighting ceremony. We even present a personalised gift for those who are leaving – be it due to the end of an assignment or relocating, among other reasons. Our long-term guests have become like family to us, we will always cherish their contribution to enriching the history and the continuing story of Sedona Suites.

Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh introduces new director of Sales & Marketing Sedona Suites Ho Chi Minh introduces new director of Sales & Marketing

Sedona Suites welcomes Vuong Thu Nguyet (Nina to her friends and clients) as its director of Sales & Marketing as of October 10, 2022.

By Nhat Ha

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