Leaders must embrace fear

By Hoang Huong - Mar 14, 2024 | 09:09 AM GMT+7

TheLEADERIn the hospitality industry, leaders like general director of Furama Resort Danang Nguyen Duc Quynh recognize the necessity of prioritizing risk management amidst the unpredictable fluctuations brought about by pandemics, wars, competition,or policy changes, all of which shape the path to sustainable development.

Leaders must embrace fear
Nguyen Duc Quynh, general director of Furama Resort Danang

Adapting to change

The past four years have posed significant challenges for hoteliers, particularly with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, which triggered an unprecedented crisis in the global tourism industry. Coupled with a challenging global economy, this hampered the recovery of tourism. How did you navigate through this difficult period?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: In the wake of Covid-19, I realized the paramount importance of preparedness for unforeseen events and the necessity of prioritizing risk management.

From a leadership perspective, long-term planning is imperative. A robust plan for the future, subject to continual review, is essential.

The post-pandemic era has witnessed numerous unpredictable shifts in tourist behavior. In such times, the advantage lies not with hotel chains but with individual hotels and highly dynamic organizations.

Last year, Furama Resort swiftly adapted, enhancing our management processes and technology to successfully attract tourists in 2023. We prioritized agility and streamlined approval processes, distinguishing ourselves from hotel chains where lengthy approval procedures are commonplace.

Society is transitioning towards a new phase, characterized not only by Industry 4.0 or digital transformation but by digital business - conducting business on digital platforms to drive revenue. Businesses must embrace this paradigm shift to thrive.

Given the relatively robust recovery of the tourism industry, do you hold an optimistic view of hospitality business prospects in general and Furama Resort Danang in particular?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: My outlook isn't one of optimism but rather caution. Today's leaders must embrace fear because unforeseen incidents - from pandemics and wars to competitive activities and policy changes - can occur. Failure to acknowledge these risks can lead businesses to peril. Therefore, understanding and embracing fear prepare us to navigate all eventualities.

Amidst rapid and unpredictable global changes, how did Furama Resort Danang adapt?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: We've undergone significant transformations. Weekly deliberations assess which revenue streams require bolstering. We've focused on enhancing MICE tourism, combining tourism with conferences, seminars, events, and digital business. Expanding into complementary industries, we aim to support sustainable development and augment revenue.

Beyond traditional revenue streams like accommodation and dining, we've ventured into consulting services, establishing IBH Solution - an appraisal and hotel solution center. Last year, this center proved highly effective, contributing to sustainable development. Through IBH Solution, we evaluate service quality and offer brand consulting and development for F&B chains.

IBH Wellness, our healthcare venture, has flourished, securing numerous orders and franchise agreements. Additionally, IBH Green, our agricultural arm, provides ornamental plants for hotels and resorts. Our landscaping department, equipped with a nursery system, generates substantial annual revenue.

Our most notable recent achievement is IBH Academy, where I serve as founder and chairman. IBH Academy partners with numerous prestigious universities and colleges domestically and internationally. Moreover, we're one of four experimental academies participating in the EHT program, collaborating with the Swiss Federal Economic Affairs Department. This initiative aims to support Vietnam's tourism industry in sustainable and comprehensive development.

Our partnership with Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, the world's leading hotel training institution, underscores the quality and commitment of IBH Academy. As one of the chosen institutions, we are evidence of the academy's excellence.

Maintaining Furama's position as a leader requires constant vigilance and adaptability. Yet, in facing these challenges, I find renewed determination and excitement, knowing that each hurdle presents an opportunity for growth and innovation.

What motivated you to establish this academy?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: To be honest, I never envisaged founding an academy; my initial aim was to cultivate a robust human resources division and training program because personnel is a significant challenge in the tourism and hospitality sector.

There's a prevailing belief that post-Covid-19, the tourism workforce would be surplus. However, the reality is quite different; during this period, many individuals have departed from their roles, not just in Danang but across various regions nationwide. They've relinquished urban employment, returned to their hometowns, and refrained from rejoining the workforce. Moreover, there's been a notable shift to alternative professions.

The pandemic also disrupted experiential learning opportunities for tourism students at universities and colleges, with closures lasting 2-3 years, resulting in diminished skill development. Additionally, after a prolonged hiatus, workers who could previously withstand significant pressure found it challenging to cope.

In late 2020, we formally established the academy, focusing on imparting soft skills, management acumen, interpersonal competencies... and the outcome has been highly successful.

During this period, we've conducted numerous practical training sessions for FPT, hotels in Danang, nationwide, and even teacher training programs. Upon university graduation, educators often lack training in behavioral aspects such as networking, customer greetings. 

These are elements we've integrated into our curriculum and are in high demand from educational institutions, prompting us to continually expand our course offerings.

The key to sustainable development

So, what must hotel businesses do during a crisis to foster sustainable development?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: Sustainable development hinges on cohesion, as we've previously highlighted. It entails uniform progress, not merely advancement in isolated areas while neglecting others.

Primarily, businesses must establish sustainable supply chains. Operationally, businesses must prioritize quality-conscious suppliers and partners committed to sustainable development.

Furthermore, collaboration with agricultural supply chains from remote areas is viable. For instance, we're partnering with organizations in Quang Nam province to establish a supply chain originating from Tay Giang district. Local farms will supply us with produce such as potatoes, sugarcane.

However, effective implementation necessitates support from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in these regions to oversee land and water resources. For operational efficiency, sourcing suppliers and partners committed to sustainable practices and community responsibility is essential.

Additionally, building internal supply chains is crucial. For example, IBH Academy serves as a labor source and facilitates efficient product development for Furama itself.

Your assertions may seem unconventional because when people think of hotel business, they often envision accommodation and dining services. However, Furama's multifaceted approach represents an ecosystem. Can other entities replicate this model?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: I believe other entities can emulate our approach. Our ecosystem isn't exclusive to us; it serves to enhance customer experiences. For instance, with ornamental plant sales for hotel décor, we're prepared to offer advice and technology transfer to customers seeking to establish nurseries, ensuring cost-effectiveness.

We're also equipped to consult and support other resort facilities in areas such as training, bottled water, nursery models, vegetable farms, and poultry. These aren't impromptu endeavors; we've meticulously prepared these services. With a comprehensive ecosystem encompassing operations, landscaping, solutions, product development, and academia, our business support is highly sustainable.

Post-Covid, reliance on external supply sources would relinquish our proactive stance. Establishing an open ecosystem is imperative, one that facilitates external integration, akin to the technology concept of APIs. We continue to engage external lecturers and remain open to franchising opportunities.

How to retain talent amid competition pressure

One of the significant challenges to the sustainable development of hotel industry is the retention of high-quality personnel. While Furama Resort is renowned for its skilled and experienced workforce, the emergence of numerous new resorts in recent years has intensified competition for attracting talent. In this context, does Furama face the risk of staff attrition, and if so, how does it maintain retention?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: To ensure sustainable retention, we have fostered a culture of sustainability at Furama. Our culture is akin to that of a family, where we frequently organize family-oriented events to involve employees' spouses and parents, offering them insights into the hospitality industry.

Consequently, when someone considers leaving Furama, it is often met with disagreement from their spouse or parents. We have cultivated a strong sense of attachment, with Furama being regarded as the home of generations. Unlike some places where spousal employment is discouraged, we not only permit it but also encourage couples and even families to work together.

This culture fosters bonds not just within the organization but also extends to employees' families, emphasizing values beyond financial incentives. We believe in nurturing this sense of connection through various programs. For instance, on June 1, we honor children with special programs. Additionally, our "Fabulous Furama Family" card allows employees to preload funds for their families' use at the resort, further enhancing familial bonds and providing opportunities for luxurious experiences.

Furthermore, we offer courses on parenting for our staff, bringing in educators from Hanoi to impart valuable knowledge. We also provide internship opportunities for employees' children, allowing them to gain exposure to the industry from a young age.

Furama's long-standing reputation can be both an advantage and a challenge, as prolonged operations may lead to outdated facilities and diminished allure. How does Furama continue to captivate guests, especially given its success in 2023 amidst the ongoing industry recovery?

Nguyen Duc Quynh: Furama's recognition as one of the top five resorts in Vietnam by Vietnam Report underscores its strength and enduring appeal. Our commitment to preserving heritage and culture sets us apart, with Furama serving as a living testament to the Champa people's legacy. We leverage this rich cultural tapestry to create unique experiences that resonate with guests, offering a tranquil retreat amidst the vibrant tapestry of modernity.

Moreover, we have positioned Furama as a culinary destination, hosting prestigious culinary events and competitions to showcase our culinary prowess. By embracing innovation and technology, we enhance guest experiences, fostering convenience and engagement.

Additionally, our core values are prominently displayed within our offices, fostering a sense of belonging and pride among employees. Creating a conducive work environment goes beyond monetary incentives, encompassing even the smallest details to ensure employee satisfaction.

My aspirations are aligned with the collective success of our organization. I find joy in seeing our business thrive, not only in terms of financial success but also in enriching the lives of our employees and their families.