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Marketing now a must for homestay owners due to COVID-19 pandemic

As she owns one of the most beautiful villas in Tam Dao Golf Course, Nguyen Thanh Hang had never spent a penny promoting her Sapphire Villa but was still fully booked most of the time.



Nguyen Thanh Hang hired a professional photographer to promote her Sapphire Villa, C21 in Tam Dao Golf Course in Vinh Phuc Province. — Photo courtesy of the villa



Things changed when COVID-19 hit though, as Hang and owners of the other 30 homestays and villas near the golf course in Vinh Phuc Province did not get bookings.

Instead of standing pat, Hang and others spent on photographs, videos and social network marketing to change the situation.

“It is much easier to have customers when I post beautiful pictures of my resorts on social networks,” Hang told Viet Nam News.

The area around Tam Dao Golf Course is not only beautiful with pine forest, mountains and cool weather, but it is also less than an hour from Ha Noi, said Hang, adding: “Not all people know about our place yet. All they know about is the difficult travel to the mountain of Tam Dao, yet they know about the amazing place in the foot of the mountain near the golf course.”

Hang alone couldn't spread the word about the area and her resort, but her pictures could.

She spent more than VND30 million (US$1,300) on a set of pictures, posted them on her Facebook and received bookings.

“I can't ignore the advertisement costs anymore. If I don’t pay now, others will take all my customers with their spending on pictures and videos.”

Nguyen Anh Duc, who took the photos for Hang's resort, told Viet Nam News that he had more orders for his service since last month.

"Many homestay owners used to take the pictures themselves but now the competition is fiercer, they ask for professional photos and videos," he said.

Duc also offers media services that help them post the photos on Facebook and Instagram to boost their bookings.

"A good photographer knows the best angle with beautiful light to lure customers. Now many just click on pictures to decide their booking," Duc added.

Tran Viet Dung, head of the Media Department of the Vietnam Tourism Association, said: “Marketing often plays a big role in boosting tourism and hospitality. Big corporations understand it and have done it for a long time.”

Now, it's time for small businesses to do the same things as the industry suffers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdowns.

Dung said platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok were great tools for marketing.

According to the Ministry of Information and Communications, Viet Nam has nearly 60 million Facebook accounts with huge amounts of traffic and usage hours.

Dung said Viet Nam is controlling the pandemic well but it has also lost millions of visitors due to the pandemic, adding: "A well-organised marketing programme at this time has a great impact to wake up the tourism industry after a few gloomy months."

Dung said of the tourism industry's total yearly revenue of $26 billion, accommodation accounted for 28 per cent or more than $8 billion. In 2019, it was $10 billion out of $35 billion.

As accommodation accounted for the largest proportion of the tourism industry's revenue, Dung said: "It is now time to promote tourism products on social media channels." — VNS

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