INTERVIEW WITH ANTON BESPALOV, MANAGER OF THE HOTEL VICTORIA MUI NE

Updated: Nov 6

What are the consequences of the COVID-19 and the border closure on your business?

The hotel occupancy rate in Vietnam has generally dropped by 75%.

The Victoria Mui Né Hotel is in a more advantageous situation than others. Mui Né is only a four-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, so locals and expatriates alike come to spend weekends or vacations there. Vacations that they no longer take abroad, but in Vietnam. The Victoria Mui Né Hotel has dropped “only” 55%.


The hotel is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year. Safeguarding jobs was a priority for the group, as it is considered a large family. Only 15% of employees were laid off. Under these conditions, the Victoria Mui Né Hotel covers its costs and is self-financing.


Victoria hotels belong to the TMG chain (Thien Minh Group). Each hotel of the chain is supported and supports the other hotels in difficulty such as the Victoria Hoi An Hotel. Indeed, the waves of COVID-19 and the severe weather that hit central Vietnam have seriously affected the hotel's finances.


What measures have you put in place to compensate for the absence of international tourists, which was your main source of clients?

The challenge was to completely rethink our marketing approach. We had to focus on the domestic market, which was not the case in the past.

Normally, the high season, which starts in November, welcomes 80% international tourists and only 20% of local people. This ultimately created an opportunity, a dynamism. We had to get out of our comfort zone, be more creative than before, have new ideas to attract more expatriates living in Vietnam and locals.

A major factor helped us.


The domestic tourism market is booming.

With the closed borders, many expatriates and locals who usually travel abroad are forced to consider Vietnam's local destinations.

In the end, solutions had to be found to attract them.


So, we set up special offers that we communicated via social networks. Today, travel agencies are mainly used to organize group trips. As an indication, our promotion of the moment is the following 3 days/2 nights for two adults and two children under 10 years old with a free lunch at 4,390,000 VND (about 190 USD).


To relieve parents, we have set up a free “Kids Club”. The children are under the supervision of animators and are invited to participate in numerous activities such as craft workshops, the discovery of fauna and flora, pony rides... A pleasure for the children, but also the parents!

Starting in December, we will offer a romantic dinner for parents, during which we will take care of the children at the “Kids Club” with a meal adapted to all ages.


More news is still coming: on December 6, 2020, the Mui Né Dunes Marathon will take place for the first time. Three courses will be proposed: 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers, or 21 kilometers. The start will be from the Victoria Mui Né via the highway to the red dunes. All registration fees will be donated to the Central region (Hue and Hoi An) to support the financing of infrastructures destroyed by the floods. A “Green Run” will also be organized before the marathon on December 6 to clean up the area. It is important to note that the Victoria Mui Né Hotel offers special packages for these events.

Respect for the environment was also a recurring topic at our meetings this year.

The hotel, which has seven and a half hectares of tropical garden, 59 bungalows, and two swimming pools, has invested in geopipes to preserve its beach. The group had two options: the installation of geopipes or the construction of a seawall. The decision to invest in geopipes was unanimous because even if it was more expensive, it reflected the values of the chain: respect for the environment.


To continue with the eco-friendly theme, a “Plastic Eradication Campaign” has been set up in the hotel: plastic has disappeared (plastic bottles, straws...). Bagasse (solid residue from sugar cane after passing through the mill) replaces polystyrene throughout the hotel. The glasses in the gym have also been replaced by glasses in bagasse. Suppliers are also forbidden to come with plastic bags for the sake of the environment.

Also, in partnership with the University of Phan Thiet, a “Clean Up Day" is organized monthly. Students, staff of the hotel, and even visitors get together to clean up the beaches and roads. The goal is to educate and raise awareness from an early age.


A “Green Tour” in the hotel is also organized. The Victoria Mui Ne Hotel also has its own bakery, aromatic garden, and vegetable garden within the hotel.

The waste is sorted. Organic waste is given free of charge every morning to local farmers to feed their pigs. Today the hotel is 80% waste-free. The goal is to reach 90% by the end of this year and 100% next year (2021).



All these initiatives will contribute to maintaining local tourism and a more domestic market focus. Today, the average occupancy rate of the hotel is 70% on weekends. It was 100% on Halloween weekend.



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