New Year’s Resolutions at Le Méridien Saigon

By: Leroy Nguyen

LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN

FOCUS ON YOUR FITNESS

EAT RIGHT

SLEEP MORE

It’s the beginning of a new year once again, and at the top of my new year’s resolutions list is…

1. TREAT YOURSELF RIGHT

After a jam packed festive season full of heart warming love, loads of belly aching laughter, copious amounts of champagne, and plenty of dancing into the wee hours of the morning, my spirit is happy but I’m looking and feeling a little worse for wear. To help recharge and gear myself for a positive start to the year ahead there is only one perfect solution that comes to mind. A well deserved staycation.

Arriving to the enormous lobby of Le Méridien Saigon located in the heart of District 1, I am graciously offered to skip the check-in queues and shown directly up to the Le Méridien Club Lounge on the 22nd floor. Here you can complete your check-in process and sip on a freshly pulled coffee whilst taking in the soaring birds eye views of Saigon’s vibrant city skyline. Sink yourself into the plush white leather lounge seating and take your time to wind down and enjoy some quiet time as the accommodating staff arrange for your luggage to be brought directly up to your room. 

“ The Le Méridien Club Lounge has a tranquil ambience that instantly puts my mind at ease. The generous floor space is flooded with natural light and giant pink lily buds in full glorious bloom are proudly displayed at each table. The word ‘heavenly’ comes to mind. As I look down upon the Saigon traffic from high above I feel worlds apart from the turbulent rush of the city. I take a deep breath and any thoughts of deadlines and neverending to-do lists melts away into calm serenity. ”

Le Méridien

Special privileges and access to the Le Méridien Club Lounge is granted to guests who book any Club Room or Suite at Le Méridien Saigon (Grande Suite, Executive Suite, or Presidential Suite). Enter the Club Lounge from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm to enjoy the full bar setup with complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Buffet breakfast is also served from 6:30 am - 10:30 am in the Club Lounge for those who prefer to enjoy their morning meal in a slightly more exclusive environment.

2. LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN

Every morning I look at myself in the mirror, and every morning I make a mental note to myself... 

“ You really need to drink more water. Try harder to stick to your skincare regime. And please find the time to get more facials! ”

I am greeted by a warm smile at Explore Spa located on the 9th floor of Le Méridien Saigon and am offered a refreshing glass of chilled lemongrass tea. I am here to indulge in a much needed facial, to rejuvenate my skin and refresh my dull complexion. The treatment rooms are an oasis in themselves and are nothing short of luxurious, with regal footbaths, pillowy massage tables, and extravagant ensuite bathrooms. 

Le Méridien

The Limitless Facial Therapy treatment is 90 minutes of euphoric escape and starts with an all over body massage that will knead out any knots or tension. The extensive facial treatment is a thorough 17-steps that will buff, cleanse, and extract any impurities, as well as soothe, balance, hydrate, and nourish your skin back to life. 

Explore Spa exclusively uses a premium line of products from luxury French skincare brand Phytomer. For nearly 50 years, Phytomer has utilised marine biotechnology to harness the power of the sea and create skin care products that help you achieve natural, authentic, and vibrant beauty. Standout products are a Pure Pore Heating Mask that feels like I am being kissed by the warm sunshine on the coast of Brittany, and a 2nd Youth Wax Mask that snugly hugs the face and satisfyingly peels away to reveal skin that is bouncy and supple to the touch.

“ The next morning I look at my reflection in the mirror with delight. My skin is glowing, buttery soft, bright, and lifted. I look alive again. ”

3. FOCUS ON YOUR FITNESS

I know that I need to be more active. I know that in times of unwavering lethargy all my bleary mind really needs is a quick blast on the treadmill to get the blood pumping. But like millions of others my problem is finding and maintaining any sense of self discipline. This year is going to be different!

Le Méridien

There is no need to break from your fitness routine during your stay at Le Méridien Saigon. The fully equipped 24-hour Fitness Centre is located adjacent to Explore Spa and features the latest state-of-the-art cardiovascular and strength training machines as well as a dedicated yoga room. Hitting your new year fitness goals is made so much easier with stellar panoramic views of the magnificent Saigon River. Working up a sweat never felt so good. And when your gym session is over, take the time to wind down in the well appointed change rooms where you’ll find towels, lockers, rain showers, dry saunas, and steam rooms, where you can further sweat out any toxins leftover from the silly season.

“ I emerge from the change rooms feeling cleansed and refreshed. The receptionist gives me another beaming smile and bids me farewell. I stand straighter, taller. I feel alert and energized. My breathing is deep and steady, and my gait is lighter. I feel as if I am walking on air. ” 

4. EAT RIGHT

Hitting your fitness goals is 20% exercise ... 80% diet. And at Le Méridien Saigon all of your dietary needs (and cravings) are easily catered to. With an extensive 24-hour room service menu and expert kitchen staff that are happy to answer to any restrictions, you won't ever need to leave the hotel when in need of a satisfying and nourishing meal.

Le Méridien

For those that like to keep things light and fresh, the Ginger + Lemongrass Cured Salmon with salmon roe, mixed Asian leaves, avocado, tomato, and ginger lime dressing will tantalize your taste buds and awaken your senses with its rich textures and bright flavours. And the Sweet and Sour Black Grouper and Seafood Soup with okra, cherry tomato, and Vietnamese herbs will delight the palate with an addictive tangy kick that will have you sipping to the very last drop.

For guests hoping to achieve the ‘ultimate gains’ and who prefer to feast on something a little more protein heavy, the 280g Australian Beef Rib Eye complete with your choice of sides and sauces, or the Roasted Duck Breast Salad with cabbage, carrot, red onion and peanuts can be delivered straight to your room and are sure fire ways to keep your famished muscles well fuelled.

Of course, with so many incredible dining options within the gorgeous hotel, it would be a shame to keep yourself locked inside of your room. The culinary highlight of any stay at Le Méridien Saigon is most definitely the lavish Executive Buffet Breakfast offered at Latest Recipe Restaurant on the Mezzanine level. From 6:00 am - 10:30 am start your day off on the right foot and pour yourself a tall glass of Healthy Juice made of fresh pressed pineapple, apple, spinach, and orange, or a hydrating Fresh Young Coconut Juice. Nourish your ravenous belly with a wholesome Vietnamese noodle soup complete with all the fresh herbs and condiments your palate may desire, and invigorate your metabolism with a colourful plate of fresh cut tropical fruits, or an egg white omelette made just the way you like it.

Le Méridien

If your stay at Le Méridien Saigon is more about guilty pleasures, then we say “Go ahead!” It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself and indulge in the naughty things once in a while. Build the perfect full English Breakfast complete with crispy hashbrowns, oven roasted vegetables, juicy sausages, delicious bacon, and luscious honey glazed ham carved straight off the bone and onto your plate. And if you’re more of a sweet tooth, Latest Recipe has you covered with an attractive selection of glistening pastries such as hazelnut chocolate brioche, strawberry danishes, freshly baked muffins, and doughnuts. You can also ask one of the skilled chefs to cook you a fresh stack of pancakes or waffles to order, and why not go crazy and top it off with a decadent scoop (or two) of housemade gelato, chocolate chips, and honeycomb toffee? We won’t tell anyone.

5. SLEEP MORE

It’s a well known fact that a good night’s sleep does wonders for your mind and body. Sleeping deeper and longer each night aids greatly in restoring that youthful glow and helps keep those anxiety levels at bay. Research has shown that improved quality of sleep may help lower the risks of depression, heart disease, cancer, and memory loss. It improves the function of our immune systems, and may even aid in weight loss.

Stepping into the Grand Suite at Le Méridien Saigon is like stepping into heaven. A sprawling separate lounge room complete with huge L-shaped sofa and giant TV allows for the perfect opportunity to kick back and unwind with your favourite movie or that book you’ve been dying to pick up and read but never got to. The generous walk in wardrobe can easily house all of your packed staycation essentials, and the enormous black marble and glass bathroom exudes a chic, sexy luxury that will have you feeling like Hollywood royalty. 

Le Méridien

“ The large freestanding bathtub, stark white against the jet black marble, has my name written all over it. I sink myself into the hot water and immediately feel the tensions melt away. Luxurious (Malin+Goetz) toiletries in exotic scents of peppermint, cilantro, sage, and lime have incredible aromatherapy effects and puts me in a meditative state. I inhale deeply and focus on my state of mind. I slowly exhale and feel any negative energy leave my body. I open my eyes and gaze out onto the Saigon city skyline through the mammoth windows that illuminate the space. I take the time to let my body soak and recharge, and reflect on how I’m going to attack this year’s resolutions. ”

Le Méridien

After a well deserved bath I am so ready for sleep, and the greatest feature of the Grand Suite at Le Méridien Saigon is without a doubt the bedroom. A gigantic king sized bed, complete with marshmallowy pillows that must be at least three times the size of my pillows back at home, is an absolute dream to sleep in and will have you floating on cloud nine. 

And the bedroom’s corner facing aspect is the heavenly icing on the cake. The Grand Suite is blessed with tall wrap around windows providing unobstructed, panoramic views of Saigon River and the breathtaking city skyline that will make your heart skip a beat.

“ I open my eyes. It’s 5:30 am. Despite how early it is I feel incredibly well rested. My vision is clear and not blurred by exhaustion. My body feels loose and flexible and not its typical stiff self. I sit up and step out of bed with a sure-footed agility that is worlds apart from the usual zombie walk I tend to perform at this hour… I stop dead in my tracks. The view that lies before me is out of this world. I have woken up just in time to catch the sunrise and the sight is so glorious I could cry. The sky is marbled with hypnotic shades of powder blue, pastel peach, and coral. As the sun climbs higher the room becomes ablaze with the colour of deep saffron. I stare out onto the Saigon River and think to myself, how lucky I am to be standing right here in this moment, to be living in such a beautiful part of the world, to be able to treat myself to such treasured memories, memories that I will never forget. And all right here in my city... I love you Saigon. ”

Le Méridien

Image source: Le Méridien


5 Things to Do With Your Partner at Sanouva Hotel

By: Phuong Tran

We’ve all had type of days while traveling with significant others when you can’t quite get the gumption to leave your cozy bed and explore the greater world outside. Some of our readers recently had one of those days while staying at Sanouva Hotel, located right in the heart of Saigon and have packed a list of things to do for a light-up couple schedule in one of the busiest cities in Asia.

1) Food Street Food, Lots of them, Yummy!

Perfectly located right in the heart of the busiest area of the city, Sanouva Hotel is just a few steps away from heaven of street food venues. Day time or evening, Ben Thanh market is where you can always discover new dish everyday.

2) A Short Stroll Shopping

Ly Tu Trong Street is famous for its variety of fashion stores. And do not miss the best shopping mall of the city: Vincom Center on the same street.

3) Museums Everywhere.

Just a few minutes walking from the hotel and you can visit a number of the best museums in the city, including Ho Chi Minh museum, History museum and War Remnants Museum. It is also worth your time to visit Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House, Independent Palace and take the chance to watch a show of water puppet at Rong Vang Water Puppet Theatre.

4) A Different Nightlife

Though Ho Chi Minh City is still not a city for round-the-clock entertainment – most places close soon after midnight. But if you are seeking for a bit fun before relaxing for the next busy day, check out Lush and Apolycapse, two of the most crowded nightclubs in town.

5) Pamper yourself at the hotel

Too tired from all the above activities? Take a rest at this lovely hotel and enjoy local/international cuisine at your door with Sanouva restaurant.


5 Things the Best Boutique Hotels in the World Have in Common

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Ever wanted to stay in an extravagant palace literally fit for a king? What about running into a 100-year old tribal woman while exploring sand dunes outside a world-class luxury accommodation in the middle of nowhere? Perhaps enjoy some wild elephant gazing while you lounge in your private jacuzzi amidst an African national park?

Some of the best boutique hotels in the world aim to embark guests on unforgettable experiences, unreplicatable anywhere else. There is, however, a common thread among the cream of the crop in the boutique hotel world.

Pondoro Game Lodge

There are five essential values common in all of this year’s winners of the World Boutique Hotel Awards.


The hotel seamlessly integrates with its environment

This is so vital that it always seems understated. Rather than drone on about the importance of creating a space that compliments an excellent environment and vice versa, here are some great examples:

Set in the Thar Desert, Suryagarh is built with Jaisalmer sandstone, situated in the middle of nowhere, with stretching dunes and arid land creating a strangely beautiful backdrop. 

Suryagarh

Embodying Paris’s inimitable combination of class, history, architecture, cuisine and art, the Grand Hotel is located in the middle of the city’s biggest attractions, including the Louvre and Opera house. With a story stretching back to the 18th century, it’s no surprise that this hotel naturally takes in the culture and feeling of the historic city surrounding it.

Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal


The service is beyond expectation

This not only means taking guest from the airport and back, or even anticipating needs. The best boutique hotels in the world have staff that are interesting personalities in themselves, making them just as memorable as the hotel itself.

For example, Pondoro Game Lodge in Africa has Robbie, the owner of the resort and your personal ranger, guiding you around the African bush in his jeep. One of the staff in Suryagarh is an expert on the theory of relativity. The owners at Awarta Nusa Dua Luxury Villas & Spa in Bali tend to their garden themselves, including four bonsai trees over a hundred years old, and two merged frangipani trees, meant to symbolize unity.

Owners, managers and service staff at the best boutique hotels in the world are your friends and family. They genuinely care about their property and are glad to relay this appreciation to their guests - they feel like they’re at home, and make you feel the same way.

Pondoro Game Lodge


The hotel is beautiful, inside and out

This seems obvious, and, well… it is. Words don’t help as much as pictures do in this situation. The hotel must be beautiful, architecturally unique, reflective of the environment and the culture, and spotless. Here are some of our favorite examples:

Saffire reflects the natural environment it is built in: The Hazards mountains’ pink granite, the white beaches and sapphire waters, and the grey-green native bush land.

Saffire

The Royal Mansour in Morocco was commissioned by King Hassan the 6th for his most honored guests. The palatial riads all reflect a kingly aesthetic - in fact, over 1,500 artisans were employed to work on the facility.

The Royal Mansour

Venetian luxury is intertwined with a relaxed atmosphere at Ca Maria Adele in Italy, where guests are meant to forget what century they are in.

Ca Maria Adele


The focus is on creating new, unique experiences

A genuinely unforgettable experience goes beyond a comfortable stay and great F&B outlets. The best hotels in the world aim to have their guests fully experiencing the environment in and around the facility.

Besides a rounded experience that includes likeable staff, great food and drinks, a beautiful environment in and out of the hotel, and so on, the key element in creating a unique experience for guests is a series of small touches and moments that make the experience unforgettable.

Some examples include:

Swimming in your private infinity spa pool while watching the sky redden and the sun set across the horizon at Spicers Peak Lodge in Australia.

Spicers Peak Lodge

Reading your favorite novel with a glass of excellent wine by the magnificent grand piano at The Library Hotel in the United States.

The Library Hotel


F&B is on par with the best restaurants in the country

For many, the food and drinks at a hotel make or break the experience. Those who can afford the luxury are more often than not serious foodies with an appreciation for fine cuisine. It’s no surprise that the best hotels in the world also have some of the best dining outlets available in the region, and even the country.

The Royal Mansour in Morocco employs three-Michelin-star chef Yannick Alléno for both of their restaurants. Chefs at the Pondoro Game Lodge in South Africa serve local cuts of ostrich and buffalo steak in generous portions. Awarta Nusa Dua in Bali has some of the best Chinese food in the country.

Awarta Nusa Dua


Wrapping it all up

All these five points are intimately wrapped up and interconnected with one another. Take one out, and you very likely have no chance at achieving a World’s Best title. And while there’s definitely something to be said about the boutique hotels mentioned, this doesn’t stop operators of smaller hotels, or even corporate entities, from learning from this year’s winners and employing the very same elements to make the best experience possible for their guests.


Tet Celebration at New World Saigon Hotel

By: City Pass Guide

Vietnam’s biggest holiday is approaching, marking the arrival of spring and the new lunar year. At this time, the entire country goes into a fervor, visiting family members, eating traditional meals, drinking, giving gifts and practicing ancient traditions. Special Tet foods are cooked, lucky money is given out, and the past year’s troubles are forgotten in hopes of a better and brighter new year.

Taking hold of the spring spirit at the center of Saigon, New World Saigon Hotel joins the festivities, celebrating with stunning decorations and special menus for guests.

Mai Vang and the Kitchen Gods

In a Southern Vietnamese home, an apricot flower tree (Mai Vàng) helps ward off evil spirits in the South, and a pink peach flower tree wards off bad luck in the North (Đào). The bright flowers blossom only once a year around January and early February. The tree marks a new, prosperous beginning, while also being a beautiful set piece. One central element on display in New World Saigon Hotel’s lobby this Tet is the apricot flower tree.

Colors are very important elements in Vietnamese culture. Red (including the pink peach flowers) and Gold (the yellow apricot flowers) are lucky colors in Asian culture. The trees ward off evil spirits during the absence of the Kitchen Gods (Táo Quân) who leave the family to visit the palace of the Jade Emperor, where they will report back what the humans have been up to in the past year. They travel on the backs of giant carp to heaven and back, making the fish another important symbol.

The Spirit of Spring

Bursting with flowers, beautiful decorations, tradition - Tet is in a word, vibrant. To showcase this vibrancy to New World Saigon Hotel’s guests, Citypassguide.com has for the third time collaborated with the hallmark hotel to produce a stunning representation capturing the modernity and tradition of Tet in Vietnam.

Guests will be arriving at New World Saigon Hotel during Tet to find a mosaic of lively, colorful paintings and photographs displayed over wall-to-ceiling windows, as well as areas of Parkview Restaurant. The result is a showcase of what Tet is now and what it was in the past, using gorgeous imagery and the colors of Tet to surround guests in the Vietnamese Lunar New Year spirit.

Old Acquaintances

Citypassguide.com and New World Saigon Hotel have collaborated together twice in the past, installing beautiful displays to mark special times of the year. For New World Saigon Hotel’s 20th anniversary in 2015, Citypassguide.com collected its most stunning portraits, landscape photography and paintings of Vietnam and its people, as well as art from contributing artists.

Last Christmas, Citypassguide.com took its role a step further, conceptualizing a tree composed entirely of conical hats (nón lá). The nón lá is the unofficial symbol of Vietnam, used to shade the hardworking men and women who toil in the rice fields and farms of the countryside. A hardworking face, a sweet smile and a gentle glimmer in the eyes - the spirit of the people was captured with carefully selected professional black and white photography and allegorical set pieces.

Parkview’s windows were covered in transparent images of Vietnamese scenery and life, creating an immersive and cultural experience for guests entering the lobby and restaurant.

Tet Festivities at New World Saigon Hotel

Celebrate Tet at New World Saigon Hotel this year.The hotel will be serving lunches and dinners in line with the traditions of the lunar new year. See their featured promotions below:

From 7 to 11 February 2016, Parkview is serving up fabulous lunch and dinner buffets that boast the best of traditional Vietnamese Tet dishes as well as seafood specialties to satiate the biggest appetites. Lunch buffet is priced at VND680,000 per person and dinner buffet priced at VND980,000 per person.

Meanwhile Dynasty kicks off the first day of Tet (8 February) with a lion dance and an exquisite Tet Brunch Buffet priced at VND1,088,000 per person, including house wine, beer, soft drinks, and tea, (Club Epicure priced at VND888,000 per person). Tet Dim Sum Buffet is priced at VND450,000 per person from 9 to 21 February; and the Tet Holiday Reunion set menu is priced from VND6,800,000 for a table of 10 people including a bottle of house wine, available from 1 to 21 February.

Nian Gao, or New Year Cake, has a history of at least a thousand years. In Chinese, the pronunciation of word “Nian Gao” means “year high” and implies prosperity year after year – making Nian Gao a popular gift item during the New Year period.

Nian Gao at Saigon Bakery:
– Daily, 1 to 22 February 2016, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
– Medium box: VND 288,000*
– Large box: VND 588,000*

*Prices exclude 6% service charge and 10% VAT.


5 Ways to Increase your Hotel’s Revenue Per Room

By: Aleksandr Smechov

Revenue Per Available Room, or RevPar for short, is a crucial metric for any hotel. It’s a simple formula...

RevPar = total rooms revenue / total rooms available

… but the number you get is a good indicator of how well you are utilizing the value of your rooms. Let’s add to this another very important term: RevPor, which is money spent per occupied room. This is necessary when tracking how much people are spending on amenities - are they raiding their minibar and indulging in room service? RevPor is a useful indicator, especially in Vietnam where there are many niche hotels who need to watch their numbers closer than most mass market hotels.

Photo by: Intercontinental Asiana Saigon

If you’re paying close attention to your hotel’s booking patterns, RevPar and RevPor can determine what move you should make next to maximize revenue with your rooms. There is no concrete RevPar or RevPor that you can really aim for year round - the bigger the better of course, but this really depends on room demand during the season and other external factors.

Citypassguide.com consulted several industry professionals to finalize a list of five great methods to maximize both RevPar and RevPor. Get the most from your rooms this season:

1. Ramp up room benefits

Executive Lounge – Photo by: Hilton Hanoi Opera

Perception is reality, and if people perceive that a room is worth more than what you’re charging then it becomes an easier buying choice. This can done by adding exclusive benefits to certain rooms. For example, get the Executive Standard and get access to a private lounge with free refreshments and free flow drinks during fixed hours; free late checkouts; complimentary in-room breakfast; discounts on services like the spa or at certain F&B venues; or anything else that you can offer. While none of these are large investments, the person perceives these benefits as special treatment and values the room more than something similar but without the benefits. Ramping up room benefits is an excellent way to increase your RevPar.

2. Jacuzzi bonus

Jacuzzi – Photo by: Six Senses Con Dao

How many movies and shows have you seen where the characters enter a hotel room they can’t afford and get excited over the jacuzzi in the bathroom? No matter how overhyped, jacuzzis are what people think of when they imagine a luxury suite, a special treat they can only afford during special occasions. A jacuzzi room can be a lot more appealing to travellers than a “shower” room. Especially during colder or rainy months. This simple addition can change a regular room to a room with a taste of luxury.

3. Give them options - but limit their choices

Room with Welcom Fruit – Photo by: Eastin Grand Hotel

People like options, but they also like being told what to get. Using other items mentioned on this list (jacuzzi rooms and rooms with added benefits, for example) you can create more room options for guests. The next step would be to direct these rooms at certain demographics - if the Standard Room is now the Executive Standard, and couples have been flooding into the Standard Room this season, paint the Executive Standard as a honeymooner favorite, or something similar. This way, you get the added benefit of giving more budget options for travellers while promoting your “enhanced” rooms.

4. Stop sucking up to OTAs

Yes, there are plenty of travelers that head over to Agoda or TripAvisor or Booking.com without even looking at a hotel’s website. This can lead fearful managers to abuse their reliance on OTAs and neglect the fact that in the long-run, a balance between OTAs and direct bookings via website and phone is more profitable. This is because people on OTAs are looking for the cheapest option - meaning they are less likely to get room service, buy a bottle of wine, or even dine in the hotel. Many rooms on Agoda don’t even include breakfast - guests will be going to town to eat, not opting to laundry their clothes in the hotel, and avoiding the minibar like the plague. This is a big hit to RevPor.

5. Play with the length of stay

Photo by: Hotel Equatorial

If people are staying for a minimum of five to seven days in your hotel, give ‘em extra. Not only are they more likely to increase your RevPor by getting in-room dining and scouring your F&B outlets and spa facilities, but you will decrease maintenance costs as linens and disposable toiletries will have to be changed less. In-room breakfast, turndown amenities, better bathroom soaps and shampoos, gift baskets, welcome fruits and chocolates - these small investments make longer stays more attractive. And longer stays guarantee filled rooms, reduce costs and up both RevPar and RevPor. What’s not to like?


Retaining Customers For Hotels & Restaurants in 2016

By: Zoe Osborne

In today’s intensely consumer-based market it is becoming increasingly difficult to create and retain loyal customers, particularly in Vietnam’s rapidly developing commercial center, Ho Chi Minh City. Products are so easily and widely available, standards are so competitive and access to them is so transparent that consumers can, and do, have their pick of the market. Businesses don’t choose their market now - the market chooses its businesses, and customers are increasingly moving away from brand loyalty, prone towards buying from whoever has the best price, for the best product, at the right time. So how can you keep them coming back to you? Is it a lost cause?

 

Why Are Customers Less Loyal?

The question of “why” customer loyalty is decreasing all comes down to instant gratification and the huge range of information available to people through the modern technological age. The internet alone has opened a massive online network for buying and selling, and generates the expectation for ease, instant results, rapid product and service development, and top standards. Add society’s progression into mobile-based hotel and restaurant bookings, information collection and web design into the mix, and you can multiply that by 10. There are so many reasons for why customer retention is becoming harder and harder, but let’s break it down into five:

 

1. The market is transparent

Consumers have access to more data via their mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc. than ever before, as well as the ability to compare prices, benefits and offers on the go via the numerous online sites or apps that exist to make their buying easier. This makes competition fiercer than ever as businesses cannot hide; every detail is accessible and comparable. Someone could be sitting in the lobby of your classy 4 star hotel, comparing the price of your executive suite to that of the hotel next door while negotiating with your clerk over your complimentary breakfast. You could lose them in an instant, simply because they found out that next door offers late-night checkout.

Source: www.moneycrashers.com

 

2. Everything must be easy and instant

With so much information at our fingertips, society is becoming increasingly accustomed to instant gratification. The less effort needed for someone to engage with your content, the more likely they are to do so. Similarly, the less complex your hotel or restaurant booking system is, the more bookings you will receive. The less difficult it is to find your store the more likely you are to get visitors - particularly for hotels and restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City’s packed streets. And the quicker your service the higher your reputation. If your customer is given an offer by your competitor that saves them time and effort, then you are likely waving goodbye to them.

 

3. You’ve got to be “indie”

Chinos and knitted jumpers aside, advocating and caring for individuality in your market is key to the success of your customer service. With the huge variety of choice that the internet gives its consumers comes the need for corporations to think of their market as a group of individuals with unique profiles, buying behaviours, interests and lead potential, rather than a set of people that fit a target profile. Businesses like hotels and restaurants are increasingly interested in using consumer tracking software to find out more about what their individual customers want, in tailoring email campaigns specifically to customer interactions and in focusing their social media tactics on select segments of their target market. The idea is to anticipate what your customer wants, and to be there when they want it.

Source: www.blog.vendhq.com

 

4. New new new

People love the word “upgrade” (especially if it has “free” in front of it). Society is becoming driven to consume, often for the sake of consumption, with people always hankering after the latest this or the next model of that. Your customer wants an experience or a product that they’ve never seen before. I was with Windows about five years ago, and stubbornly loyal to the operating system. But when the Apple Macbook Pro came out, as shiny and weirdly round as it was, I ditched my PC in a second. Apple was new, stylish, impressively efficient, and I moved. This applies to other sectors too, particularly hospitality. In Vietnam, hotels compete with each other for customers with their rooms rates, benefits, the style of their space, etc. Often it comes down to how well you utilise the full potential of your business, both in terms of customer satisfaction and in terms of profit. You can read more about how to maximise your RevPar while maintaining the kind of standards that keep customers coming back for more here.

 

5. You’ve got more competition than ever

As you’ll have understood by now, to retain customers in today’s market you have to be a fierce competitor - there are just too many options for your potential customer. For example, there are so many 4 star and 5 star hotels across Vietnam, that companies need to continuously bring something special to the table to maintain interest in their potential customers. You have to be the best one. Industry standards and rate of growth are ever higher, and to maintain a voice among your competitors you have to stand out.

 

Is There a Solution?

The best solution to this decline in customer loyalty is to let them go! Ok, I don’t mean totally abandon all leads - just stop spending your energy on trying to use old strategies to retain customers that interact with businesses in such a new way, and instead focus on catering to their buying behaviours.

 

– Get online + Google’s new OTA

Since your potential customers will be comparing your competitors via the vast mass of information that is the internet, you’d better be on the web and with a great reputation. Social media marketing and online listings have never been more important. Getting great reviews is a really big deal, especially for restaurants and hotels in Ho Chi Minh City that often rely on online reputation. Prices aside, if your business has a good rep for service and quality and the kind of credibility that can only come from past sales and happy reviews, people will be far more likely to choose you. For those in the hospitality sector, Google’s new OTA platform “Google Destinations” is promising to be the next big thing for a company’s online presence with the potential to totally out-run Tripadvisor or Expedia - you can read more about that here.

 

– Keep it simple + capturing user attention

When businesses set up their website, they have to think about a range of factors - from how it relates to their brand identity to the loading speed of each little section. But perhaps the most, and, sadly, often one of the most overlooked or misunderstood factors, is usability. Simplicity. How easy is it to get from A to B on your site? Studies show that simple fonts and print help people to reason more clearly. Another study by researchers from Yale in partnership with Stanford University and the University of Michigan proved that people are more likely to spend money in response to simple descriptions and prompts. Finally, Google discovered that simple websites with low visual complexity, plenty of white space and high prototypicality were much more appealing to their viewers than complicated ones. And if you think about it, Google itself is the perfect example. This sheet of website statistics is a great tool for understanding how your users interact with your site, and how to capture their attention.

Minimise the steps your viewers have to take to get make a choice or get through a process, such as finding your “about” section or booking a room. And remember the age-old saying that a picture speaks a thousand words. According to one study, about 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

 

– Studying (... or spying on) customer behavior

Like in the famous 1954 film by Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window, this is your chance to be a voyeur, to spy on your customers. There are a number of ways to collect data on the individuals in your market and keep tabs on their activities, and this information will be invaluable in your marketing strategy. Remember that connecting with today’s market requires you to focus on the individual, not just put everyone under the general target profile, especially if your target market is very dense like in HCMC. There are a number of content management systems that offer consumer tracking software to personalise your interactions with every viewer and potential or existing client that comes to your site, such as Salescloud or Hubspot. In fact, Hubspot has a number of articles on the art of spying on your client base. Other tips include keeping a record of who engages with your email or social media campaigns and what they engage with, who shares or follows your content, and using good old Google analytics to understand who comes to your site, when and why.

 

– Surfing consumer trends

So you have a lot of competitors and they just keep getting better. What to do? Compete. Use your competition as a force to push your own business to greater heights. Analyse what they do and how they get there, and implement it - only better. Identify your own channel of growth, based on your company’s vision and mission. Put in your own steps to keep evolving and renewing your services and products, perhaps at an even faster rate than them! Do be mindful of quality, though. Hubspot wrote a great piece on how to stay on top of consumer trends - how to be reactive, proactive and survive in this dog eat dog market. Have a read.

 

– Watch your loading times

Your content should have a definite voice and your products must embody your company’s image. This kind of unity starts from inside the company itself. According to Adobe, “given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain.” But be mindful of the loading time that your creativity might take - Adobe also found that “39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load”. If you are working in an area that has poor wifi, like the majority of the hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Vietnam, bear this in mind too - slower wifi means even slower loading time.
So to conclude, customer retention is not dead. It is not redundant, but it has definitely changed and in this fast paced world that we find ourselves in today, it is likely to change again. Soon. At the end of the day it’s all about keeping pace.

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