“Never waste a crisis!” If I could capture a sentiment to summarize the newly adopted spirit of Vivu Journeys and TMG during this Covid period, it would be this.
Undoubtedly the most shattering time for our beloved travel industry in any of our working lifetimes, the question was, with the right mindset, could we choose to thrive rather than just survive? Largely led by our founder and CEO Tran Trong Kien, what started out as a tongue in cheek discussion point during one of our virtual team coffee mornings, quickly became an adopted state of mind.
TMG has been connecting travellers with local communities throughout South East Asia for 26 years. As a qualified doctor in medicine, Kien has always kept a close eye on ensuring each interaction and encounter benefits the visitor, whilst providing ample opportunity for each community to prosper. It was clear, success and survival would require a hotpot of skills and efforts; adaptability, innovation, a clear commercial strategy, an open mind, a sense of humour and above all a big heart. If we stay on track with our core values of “Health, Kindness & Growth” might we just succeed?
And so, began a period of huge transformation within TMG. As a DMC, we were clear of our starting point – Connecting with our key partners: Tour Operators, board members (with varying backgrounds from Microsoft to VP’s of global banks), our mentors and respected industry colleagues. We caught up, we questioned, we discussed, we listened, and then we re-created.
Within the TMG family, our sibling brands include 12 hotels, 20 river and sea cruises, 4 restaurants, an online travel agency and 4 seaplanes. With newly closed borders and a fresh ban on international travel, how could we support our Tour Operators, our colleagues and their families as well as our communities, whilst also keeping the cash flowing? It had to be fast, it had to be innovative and it had to be bold.
Connect – Our Initiatives
After careful consideration, the following campaigns were put in place:
- Vivu Journeys created a three-pronged recovery plan for the short, medium and long-term travel return. A sparkly new product collection created, around domestic, short and long-haul travel
- Through IVIVU, (Online Travel Agency) our hotels and Spice Viet (farm to table Vietnamese restaurants) we are cooking and distributing upwards of 200 daily meals, allowing our hotels and restaurants to stay open and giving local communities access to fresh and delicious delivery.
- In conjunction with the Tourist Advisory Board we opened a helpline within Vietnam for anyone who found themselves stuck away from home. This created a lifeline for those with unanswered questions, bridging a gap often discovered in a time of need. Our strong local connections allowed us to offer clear and accurate advice from Native English speakers to anyone who needed it. Support ranged from visa status advice, finding a place to stay, to just a friendly voice and someone to talk to. We are proud to have successfully helped comfort over 150 people navigating the difficulties of being in lockdown away from home.
The helpline remains live whilst lockdown procedures in Vietnam are lifted, and stranded tourists begin planning their journey’s home.
- A 24-hour cancellation policy is in place for all TMG hotels, encouraging domestic travel and international risk-free bookings
- A $20 per night promotion for certain TMG hotels to support stranded tourists or locals who were welcomed with a comfortable room, fresh meals & a safe, hygienic environment
- We have started weekly live cooking shows from various TMG hotels which have been live-streamed by over 13,000 people weekly
- We have collected over $700,000 to support those families within Asia who have been severely impacted by the virus
- We are working actively with authorities to introduce a “Covid safe hygiene certificate” to be awarded to hotels, restaurants and other services in the coming months to help continue the success of Vietnam’s response to the virus so far
Where we used to collaborate noisily together in offices, we stay home and connect online. Where we used to sell thousands of travel experiences daily, we prepare and distribute fresh Vietnamese meals. Where we planned for trade shows and partner meetings, we catch up on virtual coffee mornings. From lock-down, we prepare for new travel trends with fresh products, initiatives and ideas. We remain certain of one thing, when our borders re-open and our airlines cease being grounded, we won’t have wasted this crisis and we will be ready to welcome the first groups of intrepid adventurers to each of our magnificent destinations.