Hue is a destination that is attracting high-end tourists with high spending power. However, the amount of their money spent in Hue is still not high due to a lack of high-end services.
Lack of high-end services
The main stream of tourists to Hue are from Western European, North American and Northeast Asian. These tourists hold a majority in the top 10 countries coming to Vietnam with the highest spending in 2017. To these customers, their main goal is to understand the culture, hence that is the reason why Hue still has a stable attractiveness to these markets.
The quality of services will make up the brand for high-end tourism. Photo: Nguyen Hung
It is quite fortunate as Hue was able to skip over many stages. A high-end destination must have a specific target market. When the amount of customers reaches too high; facilities are overloaded; then it is time to categorize customers into groups, improve quality, and raise the price of services to target the groups with higher spending power. To many destinations, this process takes a lot of time. As for Hue, the current arrivals have not yet become too crowded, but it’s already possible to shift the focus onto high-end guests.
That is the theory only, but when putting them on the table to measure, high-end services for the targeted customers in Hue is too little. The leaders in the tourism industry straightforwardly recognize that high-end services in Hue are merely accommodation establishments, while services of other types have not gained much money.
The problem of visitors to Hue who want to spend money, but do not know where to do so is not recently mentioned. The amount spent by a guest is calculated through his/her spending in a day plus the whole trip. Considering these two aspects, Hue is weak. According to the data from the Department of Tourism, the average expenditure of visitors to Hue in 2017 is nearly 800,000 VND/person/day; meanwhile, spending in other national destinations is 20% to 50% higher. Also, on total spending index, the short length of stay in Hue effectively reduced the level of expenditure.
On the other hand, according to the members of the provincial Tourism Advisory Board during their meeting earlier this year, the attractiveness of a destination is assessed on various criteria; among them, spending amount is the most important. Visitors to Hue have to spend money to use high-quality services in order to affirm that Hue is a high-quality destination.
Tourists choose Hue because of its products filled with vintage cultural characteristics
Mr. Phan Trong Minh, Managing Director of La Residence Hotel, said that many of his customers’ inquiries included not only their desire to come to Hue but also their uncertainty on whether the service was good or not. There had been guests who were millionaires or even billionaires, who had their staffs done researches before they traveled, but upon coming to Hue, the quality of service was not such and such as expected so they decided not to come back again.
According to the Tourism Advisory Board, if Hue focuses on improving the quality of services and provides more high-end services, the striving to raise the level of spending to 100 USD/person/day by 2023 is feasible. Of course, increasing visitors’ spending by almost three times over the next five years requires an "accelerated" stream of solutions series; among them, the most important factor is still tourism products, then infrastructure and human resources...
Expenditure of visitors to Hue is still low.
According to Mr. Phan Trong Minh, when investors decide to put capital in the repair of the hotel, they have thoroughly researched the tourist market of Hue within the next few years. It is predicted that Hue will be a high-class tourist attraction, as the trend is to find places rich in culture and history, but not yet too crowded for tourists to find a more different, gentle and peaceful experience. If Hue acquires more quality food services, it will be enough for customers to “take out their wallet”.
An inherent difficulty for Hue over the years is the "strength" of businesses. Due to the quite limited size and resources, many businesses only serve common services. There are a number of businesses, right from the start, aiming at high-end clients with luxury services, promising to satisfy the most demanding travelers. However, they are not able to withstand the challenges, and thus forced to lower their quality in order to have more stable customers. Meanwhile, for a product or service to become well-known, it takes a certain amount of time.
From that reality, attracting more big branded investors is essential for Hue. Because these big brands bring with them automatic service standardization as they already have a clear orientation toward high-end customers. More importantly, their ability to survive the initial stages would be better. These brands will have their own way to get customers to use their services. Laguna Lang Co is a typical example.
The Tourism Department acknowledged that the change in quality of service cannot be done in a day or two; it requires a well-thought-out plan. The good news is that many high-end services have started to work toward it, for some of them have already begun to take forms. For example, there was a company decided to invest in the boat services on the Huong River with new beautiful models, including food and accommodation services... Or the high-end amusement park in Vinh Xuan is also being promoted, along with those projects to be expanded and rebuilt in Lang Co, Chan May...
Hue City, the center of Hue tourism, also needs to renovate the heritage, provide with more services for guests visiting the Imperial Citadel, with services ranging from 50,000 to 100,000, to 200,000 or even several million dongs. The goal is for visitors to spend a great deal of money on high-end, attractive services of the highest quality.
Story and photos: Duc Quang