The attractions industry is waking up to the opportunities offered by Vietnam’s buoyant economy and its rising middle class.
Vietnam is increasingly being viewed as ripe for leisure development, with more avenues opening to foreign investment and a young population with money to spend.
IAAPA recently held its first official event in Vietnam, delivering a series of safety seminars presented by international industry leaders including Doug Akers, ICAE, Director, Operations, International Operations, Universal Parks & Resorts; Chris Perry, Executive Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, WhiteWater West Industries Ltd, and Jim Seay, ICAE, Chairman, IAAPA Global Safety Committee and President, Premier Rides.
Driving Success and Raising Safety Standards
Interest in the country’s potential as a leisure destination at an all-time high. A group of owners, operators and suppliers of attractions in Vietnam, with the support of IAAPA, have laid the foundations of a local association.
The aim is to follow the example of other successful regional associations (PhilAAPA, ARKI, AALARA and MAATFA). Their goal is to drive the business success of members and to promote international safety standards.
Victor Danau, serves on the IAAPA Young Professionals and Asia Membership Committees. He outlined the process to Blooloop and introduced key players in the development of a thriving attractions industry in Vietnam.
Formerly COO of N Kid Attractions, Danau has developed and presented safety, guest service and finance courses for the AIMS Safety Seminar in Orlando, Florida and for International Ride Training’s iROC safety programmes in Las Vegas, Nevada.
60% of Vietnam’s Population is Under 30
Danau says that Vietnam is poised for significant growth in the leisure and attractions sector on the strength of its demographic profile alone.
Citing market information from CIA World Factbook, he explains that in a population of more than 95 million, 60% are under thirty.
Furthermore, economic reforms and a commitment to the easing of foreign investment have resulted in consistent growth. The gross domestic product has increased at an annual rate of roughly 6%.
“According to Euro Monitor: ‘between 2010 and 2015 disposable income increased (in real terms) by 32%. In turn, consumer spending increased 33% over the same period, driven in large part by the burgeoning middle-class’ expenditure.”
“33.6% of the population currently resides in urban environments, and is growing annually at nearly 3%. There are still numerous opportunities for development in the well-known major cities. Secondary provincial cities are growing and becoming ripe for investment.”
Who’s Who – the Key Players
According to Danau, major players in the industry’s evolution include N Kid Group, which operates nearly 30 Family Entertainment Centres across Vietnam under the tiNiWorld and T-Clb brands. Founded in 2009, the company’s goal is to provide high quality and safe edutainment options for all children. tiNiWorld is the leading FEC outlet in Vietnam with locations across all major shopping mall chains. These include the Aeon, Vincom, and Lotte networks.
Vinpearl Land, is the entertainment division of Vietnamese conglomerate VinGroup. It operates across numerous attraction categories including theme parks, water parks, a safari park, an aquarium, multiple FECs and ice rinks.
Partnering with International Brands
Another key player is Sun Group, which partners with leading international brands to develop real estate, resorts, and attractions. It currently operates a number of entertainment destinations including Bana Hills Resort, Asia Park, Fantasy Park, and the soon to open Ha Long Ocean Park.
“The company also operates several Guinness World Record cable ropeways including the longest non-stop system at their Fanispan Resort.
“Fun Fact: many of the rides from Myrtle Beach’s Hard Rock Park have found their new home within Sun Group.”
Other players in the market include independent Vietnamese operators such as Vietopia and Kizziti, as well as Singapore’s Dream Games arcade chain, Japan’s Molly Fantasy FEC chain, and Korea’s Playtime FEC chain.
Last year, US-based Six Flags Entertainment formed a licensing partnership with local private company, NaVi Entertainment. The plan is to create a series of branded theme and water parks across the country.
Blooloop asked three industry movers and shakers to give their perspectives on the rise and rise of the attractions industry in Vietnam; Shaun McKeogh, Vice President with Management Resources and ProFun and a consultant in Vietnam for over five years; Thomas Ngo, CEO of the N Kid Group; and Bui Tuong Anh, the founder and CEO of Somewhereland, a fairy tale dining experience.
“It will benefit individual member companies by allowing them to network. They will also collaborate on best practices, benchmark their practices against each other, improve safety, provide an opportunity for professional development, lobby the government in areas concerning the attractions industry and represent the collective needs of the members.
“And, most importantly, it will provide a support network of like-minded businesses. They can learn from each other and work together to improve the standards and reputation of attractions throughout Vietnam.”
And, he says, now is the perfect time to do it.
“For so long, attractions in Vietnam have seen each other as fierce competition. The reality is that we can learn from each other, especially when it comes to the development of safety and training standards.
“The Vietnamese people are now visiting other attractions around the world and coming back to Vietnam with higher expectations and demands about what is being offered to them in terms of location based entertainment. The time is right to step up our game.
“The past few years have seen the demand for attractions grow right throughout the country. And, with the growth, there has been a realisation that it’s not just the two big cities of Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh that should have the monopoly on entertainment offerings for kids, teenagers, young adults and families. The growth of attractions in the smaller provinces and cities has sparked a huge hunger for more.
“With the increasing capacity of the population to value spending a few extra dollars each month on entertainment, the time is just right.”
N Kid Group
“I remembered all of the fun I had as a child growing up in California. I thought that kids in Vietnam deserved the same opportunities, ” he says.
So, how does he attract visitors and encourage them to make repeat visits?
“Firstly, we make sure that our staff provides world class service in accordance with our Service Excellence programme. The most important thing we can do to keep our visitors returning is to make sure they have a great experience when they spend time with us.
“Secondly, we invest a significant amount of time and money on making sure there is always a reason to come back and visit tiNiWorld. Our marketing team produces a yearly calendar of special events including HallotiNi, Winter Joy, and September Fest. There are ever-changing shows, promotions, and activities throughout the year to encourage repeat visitation.”
He, too, believes the forming of a national association will be a positive step.
“We can see the success that other businesses have had from participating in a national association. We think that uniting the local industry will help foster growth and promote safety standards.
“At N Kid Group, we are especially interested in creating a strong association that can attract world class seminars and other education programmess at the local level. We are proud to have helped bring the first ever IAAPA Safety Institute to Vietnam and hope the local association will foster more opportunities like this.
“The interest in Vietnam’s attractions, both from within and abroad, has never been stronger. Creating an association is an important step to highlight Vietnam’s growing attractions industry.
“The Vietnam market is growing every day, especially the middle class, ” says Ngo. “Families are spending more time out of the house and looking for fun and safe things to do together. We expect to continue to grow our business in the market significantly over the next several years, as customers’ needs and expectations are getting more and more sophisticated.
“We pioneered the Vietnam market and will always seek to stay ahead of expectations in safety, friendliness, and cleanliness. As such, we refine our training and operating procedures annually to make sure we grow together or ahead of our customers.”
Somewhereland Fairy Tale Dining Experience
“The reasons we opened Somewhereland in Vietnam are, firstly, the significance of the population aged 5-20 in Vietnam. In the next 10 years, at least 1/4 of the population will be from 5 to 20 years old. The need for a family edutainment centre like Somewhereland is huge. Besides, there is no leader in the market yet.
“Electronic devices, the heavy studying programme at school and poor family connections have stolen our kids’ childhoods. These make people forget how to be happy as a child, kill their ability to be creative, and create a passive generation.
Imaginative Environments for the Whole Family
“We would like to create an environment that encourages not only kids but also adults together to enjoy imagination, be creative, and believe in their dreams.
“We offer fairy dining experiences with a lot of do-it-yourself craft activities, games and entertainment shows. Somewhereland is a unique attraction, fully themed, that tells a story through our characters, products, activities and immersive environment. Our Team Members are actually Elves, and role-play their own characters. It’s a land inspired by medieval style. It is not only attractive to the kids but also enjoyed by the parents.
“We renew our services and products every month. Every two months, we have big seasonal events. Visitors always have reasons to come back to see new things at Somewhereland.”
A Demand for World-Class, Affordable Attractions
Since Somewhereland began operation five years ago in Ho Chi Minh City, Bui Tuong Anh has observed emerging customer trends:
“Instead of having individual family trips, now families love to hang out in groups. Several families group together so that both parents and kids can enjoy “networking” and socialising together, ” she says.
“As a lot of international brands on F&B as well as entertainment have entered the market during these years, the customers are educated and now expect and demand a world-class product but at affordable local prices.”
A dynamic, rapidly growing market, an increasingly monied middle class and an emerging travel sector. Few would doubt that Vietnam really is Asia’s new land of opportunity.
Image credit: tiNiWorld and Somewhereland