The positive marks
In July, the VNAT officially launched a new website promoting international tourist markets, at www.vietnam.travel, with a modern interface, compatible with international websites promoting tourism. As part of its digital marketing strategy, Vietnam is introduced as an attractive destination for travellers from around the world. The website provides practical information on destinations, visa processing procedures, festivals and other major events in Vietnam, helping international tourists to plan travel. Notably, the 360-degree videos on the website are implemented at UNESCO’s heritage sites, introducing more than 18 prominent tourist destinations from across the country. With the expectation of providing comprehensive information and inspiring international tourists, the website has links to social networks Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram, with the official address and channel of Vietnam tourism, helping international visitors to actively interact and share experiences. For the first time, the website provides a “Travel Guidebook”, which is a free download for international visitors.
Previously, on May 20, 2018, Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem district People’s Committee launched a new website providing tourism information on the district, at www.hoankiem360.vn. The websites were designed based on 360-degree technology and are compatible with operating systems such as iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, as well as various web browsers, and provide information on tourist spots and services, while displaying the location of trading centres through Google Maps. They also provide lists of travel agencies and hotels and facilitate bookings through e-commerce service providers.
From the beginning of 2018, automatic interpretation services in many popular languages for visitors at the Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (The Temple of Literature) relic, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel in Hanoi, and the Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture have also been put into use. With handsets, visitors select their language to listen to information while visiting every corner of the monuments.
The activities mark the major changes, including the deeper participation of technology in serving tourists. It is considered as the basis of smart travel development, promising further developments in the future. It is also a positive mark of changing the thinking of the tourism industry.
Taking the opportunity, overcoming the challenge
Industry 4.0 brings great changes in tourism, but also creates pressure for travel agents to change their thinking, first of all, in approaching customers. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology allow customers to explore their destinations in a 3D space before deciding to buy tours, while smartphones help travellers to discover products and services through the virtual reality technology. Tourists can sit in their house to book, compare and look for the best services and hotel. In contrast, the added value of the tourism sector has also increased. Therefore, the tourism industry is facing not only great opportunities, but a challenge. In the trend of online travel development, Vietnam is considered as a “gold mine”, according to international experts. With more than 50 million internet users (53% of the population) and a growth rate of online travel of 50% per year, while the scale of online travel in Vietnam in 2025 will reach US$ 9 billion.
But the potential will only exploit the effect if the travel agents seize the opportunity by changing their thinking. According to the International Cooperation Department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), Vietnam now have 10 electronic travel trading floors, such as: Ivivu.com, Mytour.vn, Chudu24.com, Gotadi.com, Tripi.vn , but these floors only achieved approximately 20% of transaction demand, while the remaining services belong to foreign trading floors. Even domestic customers use the services of international online travel websites, with two foreign online booking sites, Agoda.com and Booking.com, occupying more than 80% of the market share of online bookings in Vietnam.
According to the Institute for Tourism Development Research under the VNAT, in the new trend, it is necessary to focus on investing in a number of specific products, such as destination management systems to support travel; multi-function travel cards; and automatic travel automation software. The recent report of the Institute showed that certain Vietnamese tourism enterprises have applied new technology solutions and mobile technology in integrating hotel bookings, tickets, and offering tourist information for customers, such as Tripi, Gotadi, Mytour, Saigon Tourist, TransViet, and Hanoi Redtours. The construction of tourism products using technology provides smart choices for customers. Customers use the software installed on mobile phones which are easy to operate and have secure online payment. Several websites and tourism enterprises also allow users to create accounts by linking them to social networks such as Facebook or Google, and also connect with Agoda.com and Booking.com to increase hotel searches. In particular, the company has allowed the application of payment technology with QR codes on smart phones. In order to book travel online, online payments have become a popular product, and the travel businesses must build and operate websites with interactive facilities that meet the needs of customers, integrate online payment methods, use smart mobile applications, and ensure the safety of the system. However, it is still a challenge.
The development of online travel in Vietnam, creating the premise for smart travel, demands the participation of management agencies and the authorities at all levels, especially given the dynamism of the tourism business. It is very convenient that the Law on Tourism 2017 has regulations related to electronic transactions in the field of tourism. According to the Director General of the VNAT Nguyen Van Tuan, the tourism industry also determines the application of information technology as not only a trend in development but also a breakthrough to improve the competitiveness of tourism in Vietnam. The VNAT has submitted to the competent authority for approval the Master Plan for the Application of Information Technology in the Industry 4.0 of tourism industry.