To leave your everyday routine behind to open a hotel in Asia on a white sandy beach, is a dream! A cozy little corner as your new home, an original and trendy spot, a luxury hotel with Spa … Whatever your concept, you will need a solid foundation to make it become a reality and make it last. It is possible, but not without preparation. Do not worry Bliss Saigon tells you everything you’ll need to know to make your business successful; with Jutta Arnaud, creator in 1995 of Vietnam’s first foreign-invested beach resort and now founder of CHIConsultant, a Saigon-based hotel management, quality and operations consultancy firm.
Bliss Saigon: Jutta, why did you choose the hotel and hospitality industry as your professional field? Was it by chance or par calling?
Jutta Arnaud: Definitively a calling! The hotel and hospitality industry in general has always been my passion and I have always worked in this field. I began my career in tourism, then in marketing and sales for a large chain of hotels, and finally in event management until I arrived in Vietnam in 1994 to open a hotel and run it for 25 years: The Coco Beach Resort in Mui Né, Vietnam.
BS: In your opinion, how to recognize a high quality hotel?
Jutta Arnaud : Many factors determine the quality of a hotel, but the most important factors, and those being closely related to one another, are without a doubt the quality of service and the characteristics of the staff, the tangible elements such as security, comfort and decoration combined with attributes like location and extra services offered.
BS : What is an essential knowledge for a hotelier to have?
Jutta Aranaud: Apart from the obvious knowledge of financial and operational management, a hotelier or restaurateur must never forget that he does not sell something concrete, like a pair of shoes, but a feeling, a life experience. An hotelier works with people for people!
Bliss Saigon: Does customers satisfaction and retention guarantee success?
Jutta Arnaud: Yes. A very short but very real answer. There is a quote circulating in our small world of the hospitality industry that says, “If we do not take care of our customers, someone else will! Of course, you also need to know how to manage your operations, expenses and revenues, the satisfaction alone of your customers will not pay the bills at the end of the month, but thanks to happy and loyal customers you can make your business profitable.
BS : What is the biggest short-term challenge for the hospitality industry in Vietnam?
Jutta Arnaud: Vietnam offers quite a large number of beautiful and charming hotels (and I do not speak here of hotels being part of an international hotel chain) but very few offer a customer service at an adequate standard for an international clientele, even at the level of the technical installations or decoration. You can read many articles about the lack of return guests in Vietnam. The changing tastes of travelers and the multitude of available hotel choices have made it necessary to create unique and personalized experiences for guests. Opting for a customer retention strategy is also an opening to find new clients by limiting marketing and advertisement costs.
BS : What is your opinion about hotel training schools in Vietnam and Asia?
Jutta Arnaud: Hospitality schools in Vietnam have multiplied in recent years and some are of a very good standard, but often elitist and quite expensive. Also, do not forget that any school can only give standardized training. As in most professions, you are not a specialist just by graduating. Work experience and ongoing vocational training which is adapted to the needs of a specific company or profession are essential tools for long-term success.
BS : Do you think hospitality companies are managing properly the training of their employees?
Jutta Arnaud: Allow me to give another very short reply – No. Apart from some major international hotel corporations which have an efficient human resource department including a quality manager, most hotels and restaurants have a tendency to neglect ongoing training, personalized and adapted to their needs. I will go even further, often hotel managers are not even aware that there is a need for training or changing of operational procedures because the deputy directors themselves do not have the necessary knowledge or guidance to notice problems or do not dare to point out them.
BS: If you were to ran a hotel now, what would be your priority over the next six months?
Jutta Arnaud: I would do or hire a professional to do a quality audit to know the real potential and issues of my hotel. Then, I would follow up with training for Deputy Directors and the staff addressing the result findings of the audit, and in the same time, I would focus my attention on the online representation of my hotel to ensure that the image given in the digital world represents the reality and makes people want to come.
BS: What does CHIConsultant offer to anyone wishing to improve their hotel or restaurant?
Jutta Arnaud: We propose an audit program for quality and operations to test all levels of services and facilities with a detailed report and recommendations.
Furthermore, we offer workshops and training sessions for staff and management training in soft skills, customer relations and communication skills. We also propose service of brand ambassador in order to assist Vietnamese companies to be well represented internationally. Web content management including advice to increase and improve online visibility and reputation is also part of our service portfolio.
Jutta Arnaud: firstname.lastname@example.org
94 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien, District 2, HCMC