Mr. Mark Chan, Ascott's Country General Manager for Vietnam, talks about the serviced residence market and Ascott's successful growth in the country.
■ What’s your take on the outlook of the serviced residence market in Vietnam?
The outlook appears bright. Vietnam has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign investors in recent years.
The country’s investment outlook will be even brighter with the advent of the AEC and once the landmark TPP comes into force. The upcoming APEC Summit in 2017 will also provide further impetus for growth. Domestically, the various infrastructure developments, such as the metro line, will certainly increase mobility and urbanization, which in turn will help fuel the domestic economy and propel the country to become one of the key growth areas in Asia.
The serviced apartment market will benefit from the robust economic growth, fuelled by factors such as steady FDI, a growing manufacturing base, and a strong export sector.
All these will in turn attract a large number of expatriates to the gateway cities and generate greater demand for quality serviced residences in Vietnam.
Furthermore, the supply of service apartments in Vietnam has not significantly increased in the last few years, given the slowness in the economy. The serviced apartment asset class has performed reasonably well even during the difficult years. As such, with the economy on the cusp of recovery, the service apartment industry should be able to do even better.
■ How has Ascott maintained its competitiveness?
Beyond providing the comforts of a home away from home, at Ascott we indulge guests with a selection of cultural, gastronomical, local, and wellness experiences curated to guests’ interests. Though guests may be away from home they can still continue to enjoy the experiences and activities they love. Whether they are a cultural aficionado, a culinary lover, a local enthusiast, or a wellness believer, Ascott presents carefully selected experiences to satisfy their lifestyle needs during their stay.
Currently, all our operating serviced residences in Vietnam are under the Somerset brand. Somerset serviced residences are designed for guests who travel with their families and offer more recreational facilities such as playgrounds, tennis courts, and swimming pools.
Going forward, we will open our Ascott and Citadines properties in Vietnam soon. Ascott serviced residences offer top business executives discreet services in an exclusive environment. Citadines Apart’ Hotels cater to independent travelers who want quality accommodation and the flexibility to pay for the services they require.
■ What are Ascott’s growth strategies globally?
We will continue to grow in markets where we already have a presence, to reap economies of scale, and venture into emerging markets where the serviced residence industry is untapped.
We will look at potential opportunities for investments, management contracts, and franchises.
We expect FDI and travel spending to take on an upward trend from 2016 as the economy recovers.
To ride on the expected increase in demand we will embark on our next phase of growth to extend Ascott’s global dominance. We will continue to seek opportunities in key cities in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Gulf region to achieve our target of 80,000 apartment units worldwide by 2020.
We will continue to upgrade our hospitality capabilities and properties to enhance our competitive edge. We have embarked on a refurbishment program for our properties in Singapore, France, the UK, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. We will also continue to innovate and enhance our existing properties and ensure that we deliver the high service standards that have defined our award-winning brands.