Vietnam offers the complete package for business delegates: prestigious hotels, stunning scenery, countless sightseeing options including Unesco heritage sites, award-winning golf courses, fantastic food, and perhaps most importantly in the current economic climate, value for money. Da Nang on the South Central Coast is currently attracting much attention on the incentive front. As a sign of self-confidence, the city’s leading hotels and two golf courses, Montgomerie Links and Danang Golf Club, have banded together to form the Central Coast Vietnam Destination Marketing Organisation (CCVDMO). Craig Douglas, head of marketing and media for CCVDMO, says that the area is perfect for incentives because of its diversity. “We have the facilities and the product that would make even the more mature destinations in Southeast Asia jealous,” he comments.
Only 3km from the city, it takes less than two hours to reach Da Nang’s modern airport from Hong Kong, and Dragonair currently offers four direct flights per week. The destination is less than three hours from Singapore and Silk Air fly in four times a week. Direct flights are also available from Seoul, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur, with a direct flight from Bangkok expected in 2014. There are also domestic flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, both of which take around an hour. Da Nang offers a total of 30km of sandy beach to stroll along, so a sunrise or sunset group walk is a good team-building activity, as is surfing, with many hotels providing lessons. Sailing, snorkelling, diving and fishing round out the incentive options. Another don’t-miss destination in Vietnam is the Unesco listed Hoi An, which is particularly striking by night when the entire town is illuminated by traditional fabric lanterns. There are some fantastic restaurants in old shop houses where you can sample local cuisine – try Cao l?u, rice noodles topped with pork and dough fritters – and delicacies are a fraction of the cost of many other Asian destinations. For groups with more time, the Imperial City of Hue is like a miniature version of Beijing’s Forbidden City. A two to three hour journey by road from Hoi An. There are also three pro-designed golf courses including the Laguna L?ng Cô for a team-building round.
While Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and scenic coast provides much in the way of incentives, meetings and events are becoming increasingly popular in cities like Da Nang. Zulki Othman, general manager, Hyatt Regency Danang, says that the corporate sector accounts for 39 per cent of the hotel’s room revenue, and it is just one of the growing number of hotels welcoming corporate guests. The visionary thinking of the CCVDMO could prove just the beginning in terms of shining the spotlight on Vietnam, including the two established meeting centres, the capital Hanoi, and the country’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh. CCVDMO’s Douglas says: “We think the formation of our DMO can stand as inspiration. We formed the group because we saw too little being done to promote the region as a destination. The same is true for other locales in Vietnam, which command an incredibly rich collection of assets that would appeal to corporate groups.”
Meetings in Hanoi
Over in the Vietnam capital, business events are also gathering pace. Nenden Rukasah, director of sales and marketing at Sofitel Plaza Hanoi says: “The meetings, events and incentives sector is one of the priority targets for leading travel operators in the country. Hanoi is a safe city with friendly people, which gives it a distinct advantage in terms of attracting international meetings and events.”
The Sofitel Plaza Hanoi has a new event initiative that offers four alternative city venue options: the Opera House, National Convention Centre (NCC), Museum of Ethnology and Historic Museum of Vietnam. “Our dedicated meetings team can help to plan events at these unique venues, each of which has a distinct heritage and cultural atmosphere. At the Opera House, groups can even enjoy an orchestra performance as part of their event,” says Rukasah. Hanoi’s leading hotels are as keen to promote the city itself as their own facilities. “For many planners, Hanoi is a new destination to consider and it has a lot of draws, including its culture, food and people. Hanoi is like a treasure box full of historical stories and famous sites that are not to be missed,” says Tuncay Bocking, Crowne Plaza West Hanoi’s general manager. A spokesperson for Pullman Hanoi agrees. “Hanoi is a modern city but is equally rich in history and culture.” The hotel also offers upscale meetings, conferences and events with expertise and experience. In terms of incentive sightseeing, the three hotels are happy to assist planners, with recommended options including a Hanoi day tour and a visit to picturesque Halong Bay.
Doing business in saigon
Like their Hanoi counterparts, hoteliers in Ho Chi Minh City are as proud of the city as their meeting and events facilities. “Ho Chi Minh is a dynamic city, and one that can provide the latest facilities for all kinds of meetings, functions and events, including those at Novotel Saigon Centre,” says the hotel's marketing and communications manager Tran Thuy Phuong Uyen.
At the Intercontinental Asiana Saigon, the meetings programme is designed to capture a genuine sense of place that will inspire delegates according to director of sales and marketing Michaela Smith. The highlight of this is “The Insider Collection”, which enables groups to benefit from the hotel’s local knowledge. It comprises of five elements – location, speaker, community, interaction and break. Examples include “Insider Locations”, where the hotel organises events away from the hotel, while “Insider Speakers” is designed to inspire delegates with speakers ranging from celebrities to cultural experts, all with a strong local connection.
Smith says: “Our team aims to bring meetin delegates closer to the history, culture and flavours of Ho Chi Minh.”
Another top choice for corporate groups is the Park Hyatt Saigon, which is keen to position itself as the ultimate destination in the city for meetings and events. The hotel's director of sales and marketing Frederick Brugnara says: “Last year, we re-launched our meetings, events and incentive programmes. At the same time we revamped all of our menus and facilities.”
In addition to internationally-branded hotels to host meetings, events and organise incentives, Ho Chi Minh has history, culture, unique cuisine, and great weather. The currency exchange rate is also favourable for those that want value for money.”
Hyatt Regency Danang
Resort and Spa
193 guest rooms, 27 pool villas and 95 residences. Meeting space is 900 sqm, including The Regency Ballroom, which accommodates up 400, and seven function rooms (40 and 80 guests). danang.regency.hyatt.com
InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort
197 guest rooms and 22 suites. Six meeting/event spaces, the biggest being the Great Hall (326 sqm, with stage and dance floor) can accommodate 250 banquet style or 350 for a reception.
The Nam Hai
60 one-bedroom villas and 40 pool villas (up to five bedrooms) spread over 35 hectares. Mostly attracting incentive groups and events, it has one dedicated meeting space (40 persons) and a variety of more casual spaces.
242 newly renovated rooms, with 71 executive rooms and 17 executive suites offering Executive Lounge access situated in the business district. There are eight meeting rooms and the largest, the Grand Ballroom (580 sqm) can hold 600 delegates theatre-style or 440 banquet. It can also be divided into three smaller rooms, and there is also a Connectivity Lounge for meeting preparation and a Chill Out Space for breaks.
JW Marriott Hanoi
450 rooms are available, including 55 suites. One of the largest facilities for meetings in Hanoi, the JW Marriott has 2,400 sqm of events space on one single floor. The hotel also features a 1,200 sqm outdoor terrace. marriott.com/hotels/travel/hanjw-jw-marriott-hotel-hanoi
Sofitel Plaza Hanoi
273 rooms, located near the Old Quarter; guests in luxury club rooms and suites have Club Lounge access. Nine meeting rooms, the biggest, the pillarless Plaza Ballroom (420sqm) has a capacity for 400 delegates theatre-style and 360 banquet. There is also Le Panorama, a private function room with three outdoor terraces.
Ho Chi Minh
Pullman saigon centre
306 spacious guestrooms, including 17 suites, the Pullman Saigon Centre is one of the newest properties in Ho Chi Minh City. For business events, the hotel has a 700 sqm pillar-less ballroom that is equipped with the latest meeting technologies. Alongside are five smaller meeting rooms that can host events of up to 120 guests at any one time.
Park Hyatt Saigon
243 rooms and suites, centrally located. Seven meeting/events spaces (two with balconies), the largest is the pillarless Ballroom (550 sqm) with capacity for 450 theatre style or 360 banquet and can be divided into three rooms. There is also a dedicated meeting services team.
Citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Brunei do not require a visa for visits from 14-30 days (depending on the country). Residents of other countries can apply at their own Vietnamese Embassy. Visa on arrival is available but requires a letter of approval. All travellers are encouraged to check the government website at vietnam.gov.vn