The recently appointed Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Vietnam’s Hoiana Integrated Resort, Jit Ng, sat down with Gambling Insider on the natural draw of his new workplace and the "uniqueness of the resort." Ng discusses his workplace ethic, always seeking new challenges and drawing on his experiences to best apply himself in the new role.
Ng states his desire to help grow Hoiana into an “urban township,” enhancing the wider concept of an integrated resort. Building a community around nature is what drives him. However, gamers and holiday-makers need to be able to travel in a safe and secure way, which is why navigating travel restrictions, and quarantines affecting Vietnam, is Ng’s first mission.
Hi Jit. What is it about Hoiana Integrated Resort that enticed you to take up the cmo role?
What drew me to Hoiana was the uniqueness of the resort. It is the only five-star luxury integrated resort in central Vietnam. It is located beautifully on four kilometres of pristine, white sandy beach. At four kilometres, you can imagine how long the beach is. The best part is that the resort is surrounded by two UNESCO heritage sites. So Hoiana is in the middle of one of the best areas in central Vietnam, surrounded by true nature.
The second area of interest that drew me to Hoiana is that the company is only in phase one of its development. There are currently four luxury hotel brands. Rosewood, the resort operator, has brought in their own management for Hoiana Hotel and Suites, which is home to a number of suites and hotel areas that we have. Also, we have upcoming developments due for release such as KHOS. KHOS is more of a lifestyle hotel brand, which started off mostly in China. So, this would be KHOS’ first venture outside of China, coming to us here in Vietnam.
Hoiana has the Rosewood staple, of course, which is the New World Hotels & Resorts brand. Although it’s been around for a while, it will be refreshed at Hoiana in our new resort environment. And the area will have space for Rosewood’s brand Rosewood Hoiana, which will be a range of villas made available for our more affluent customers. We also have a new 18-hole golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. This range of brands and services is really amazing, and what drew me to Hoiana.
What is it about being CMO that makes you the perfect fit?
I have a very simple mantra. I always ask myself: When was the last time I did something for the first time? For me, it’s all about taking on new challenges and new adventures.
Hoiana, in a way, is like a fresh face in the industry, a challenger brand so to speak.
It has so much potential, too, because it’s not just about a casino. It’s really about creating an urban township. The entire Rosewood plan is an investment of $4bn into Hoiana and, being only at phase one, we have so far invested just $1bn.
A lot of other areas of our 1,000 hectares still need work. The land is not just going to be hotels, but a range of other things. There will be villas, residential areas and other commercial areas of opportunity that we will look at. So it’s an entire urban township we’re working on, not just a casino resort.
you used to be head of resort marketing. How would you say your previous experience has made you a good fit for this role?
For me, there’s always two sides to a coin. The great part for me was I could jump straight into this role, as I already understand the intricacies of how integrated resorts operate. This includes metrics, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and all the roles and responsibilities of different departments.
On the flip side, my main aim is to not feel complacent, because the role and industry is familiar. I always strive to maintain a really curious and inquisitive approach to all the tasks I undertake. So I understand the processes and procedures of the industry; but I shouldn’t be complacent, as I’m in a new environment and always learning about Hoiana.
Yet if you were to look at another candidate without any integrated resort experience, it would likely take them six to nine months to navigate the metrics of complexity, before they could even start to contribute in the role.
You’ve spoken about how Hoiana wants to integrate different facets to establish a township. Are there any other markets Hoiana is looking to incorporate to help grow out into a township?
At the moment, I believe the main focus for Rosewood and Hoiana is on central Vietnam. The entire Rosewood investment will take place over a number of years. So we need to see out our growth in central Vietnam before we focus on expanding into another market. But this is definitely not going to be one casino resort, there is still going to be a lot of other components to implement and build, and this will cover the next few years.
How will you use data and metrics in your new role? How will your experiences with this come into play?
Obviously, data is the backbone of this industry. In fact, now we have more data than ever, with new data capture mechanics such as facial recognition etc. adding to all the information we’d normally retain. However, for me, humanising data is where we make a difference. When we take all data points and overlay it with our customer journey, then we can begin to see areas we can improve, innovate and reinvent ourselves at every stage of the customer journey. This will positively impact on the brand experience.
Ultimately, for me, it’s about humanising data to make Hoiana different from other integrated resorts out there.
Your new role entails setting the growth trajectory of the brand. What is the overarching vision or specific goal you’re trying to reach? Do you have one already or are you still working on it?
Yes, I do have a specific goal. The tourism industry as a whole, not just integrated resorts, has taken a huge beating around the world these past two years. Countries are just starting to open borders again and, as you know, Vietnam has opened borders from 15 March 2022. Flights are going to start landing by the end of the month. What’s more, quarantine measures have been dropped in Vietnam as well as in other countries.
So our first task, with all these travel corridors opening, is to really take stock and understand the current travel sentiment from all different tourist destinations. We also need to understand all changes in its behaviour and how we can reposition ourselves to meet these new changes. Are travellers a bit more worried? Are they more safety oriented? Do they like, or would they prefer certain changes to travel behaviour? We need to understand every facet of these travel restrictions and the sentiment surrounding it. For the last two years, the majority of the world’s population has not been travelling. So while I’m optimistic that after two years of this isolation many travellers are yearning to return to their favourite holiday destinations; I’m also very pragmatic, and take into consideration all dissuasive measures such as quarantines. Quarantines and lockdowns may continue to suppress the appetites of possible customers.
Focusing more on the Vietnamese market specifically, what do you think the picture looks like for gaming on the whole? How can Hoiana push the boundaries and be a real leader within the Vietnamese market?
The gaming market in Vietnam, unlike Macau for example, is still in its early stages of development. The biggest advantage we have here in Hoiana is an opportunity to go back to nature. The climate is perfect, with real white sandy beaches, great people and an inherent gastronomic experience with Vietnamese cuisine.
What Macau has been trying to achieve is to bring nature into what is an otherwise staged environment. What we have here is true nature, with our UNESCO heritage sites. We see this as an advantage over our Southeast Asian competitors. I believe this will bring in a new breed of travellers who are looking for an authentic experience. We feel gamers will be looking for an authentic experience, rather than a staged experience you would find in more traditional places like Macau. For us at Hoiana, our goal is to wrap a layer of luxury around an authentic experience for our customers and all our gaming patrons.
Lastly, what is the best thing about joining Hoiana? What do you love most about your job?
The answer is simple. The people here inspire me, all my colleagues and co-workers. They inspire me to do more and be better in what I do. My colleagues will constantly question things in a good way, with very inquisitive minds, to try and understand where I’m coming from and vice versa. This is very inspiring in an industry such as ours, which sometimes can be quite complex to navigate.