SEAHIS 2018: Vietnam’s “crazy” growth

16 May 2018

It was a no-holds-barred session on Southeast Asia's most exciting market on Tuesday at the Southeast Asia Hotel Investors' Summit 2018 (SEAHIS 2018). Attendees at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit heard CEO David Keen lead a panel on Vietnam's booming hotel industry, with panelists Michael Piro of Indochina Capital, Gonzalo Macedo of Melia Hotels and Kenneth Atkinson of Grant Thornton (Vietnam) sharing thoughts candidly. Concerns were raised over what the panelists considered to be unplanned growth, with a shared fear that lack of control over development could see pristine environments like Phu Quoc become "washed up in development, excitement and greed." For more insights, see TTG Asia's write up of the event. David also took part in a discussion on building a new brand from scratch. Speaking with Mark Edleson of Alila Hotels and Resorts, James Mabey of The Standard and Michael Piro, the panel enjoyed a lively back-and-forth on the pros and cons of creating your own brand. All agreed that today, the best brands have moved away from the cookie-cutter approach, and focus on creating authentic, meaningful experiences. There was also consensus on the failure of big brands to adapt to local destinations and cultures. Local owners are driven to create their own brands, or be forced to conform to international standards and procedures in a destination where they just don't make sense. The conversation ended on the topic of bringing highly distinctive brands to new markets and the challenges implicit in importing, say, Standard Hotels to Asia. So much of Standard Hotels is about the vibe, culture and community - intangibles that are impossible to simply pick up and drop down in a completely different cultural landscape.