Lux Group Sets Sail on the Blue Ocean Strategy.

February 13, 2023 By Blog Comments Off

Mr. Pham Ha, Founder and CEO of Lux Group, tells local media of his journey in the travel business and the current state of Vietnam’s tourism sector and his ambition to sail along the Vietnamese coastline.

From just one person in 2004, Luxury Travel and now Lux Group’s founder Pham Ha, with many years’ experience in the tourism industry, one laptop and one company, and a passion to provide unique travel experiences to luxury travellers to Vietnam and Southeast Asia. His passion is to elevate and raise the bar of the luxury side of Vietnam tourism.

The Lux Group ( now has a range of brands with 250 staff, rep offices on five continents, and investments in a variety of businesses such as luxury cruises, transportation, real estate, restaurants, hotels and resorts, and art auctions in Vietnam and Asia.

The entrepreneur, Pham Ha, and the Lux Group have won numerous prestigious travel awards including the Oscar of tourism industry: World Travel Awards 2022.

1.What brought you to the travel industry and why did you choose to serve luxury travelers instead of regular travelers?

My life is a journey, and happiness for me is the voyage, not the destination. I studied both English and French and I enjoy traveling, which brought me to this field. I was at university when I started out as a tour guide, then went through many positions in the travel industry before founding Luxury Travel in 2004 after having earned an BBA, focusing on the luxury segment, which remained unnoticed at that time. I chose the smaller way to achieve greater things, created appropriate experiences to meet customers’ travel wishes and demands, and gradually became a specialist in the domain of luxury travel. Travel is now all about destinations, experiences and memories.

2. How do you define luxury travel and the luxury that you bring to customers?

Vietnam tops lists for culture, food, outdoor travel, art and, of course, beaches and islands. We used the seven letters of the country’s name: V – Varied landscape, I – Indigenous culture, E – Exotic beaches, T – Timeless charm, N – heritage sites, A – Ancient cities, M – Memories to cherish forever.

There is no general definition of “luxury” for everyone. For people who travel abroad for the first time, this is a luxury for them, but for those who have traveled to more than 70 countries, like me, luxury travel is new experiences with personalized touches, where even the smallest needs are fulfilled. We define luxury as the whole of personalized experiences. We provide the right experience to our customers and touch their emotions with pleasant surprises.

#TouchingHearts with a team of locals and expatriates aims to give travelers exactly what they want and anticipate. With dedication and close association with agents and tour operators, we ensure the delivery of authentic luxury travel experiences using expertise, know-how, and solid infrastructure to our luxury clients. Our ambition is to help spread its values, mission, and vision.

3. Who are the luxury travelers coming to Vietnam? Do they have any special demands?

The luxury world includes luxury homes, personal luxury, and luxury services, and luxury travel is part of luxury services, providing high-class facilities with perfect services. Only 3 to 5 per cent of visitors to Vietnam are luxury travelers.

Unlike mass-market travelers, high-end travelers often prefer to travel in small groups and their requirements include privacy and authentic and unique experiences at destinations. This segment can be divided into five groups: The traditional group desires unique and different experiences to show off and attract the attention of others.

The second group enjoys luxury whenever they can. The third group seeks new experiences as they have money, and their numbers are increasing. The last two segments are honeymooners and groups of older people who like luxury as they love traveling with family.

Travel now is all about destinations, experiences and memories. Each destination has secrets, stories, and treasures of cuisine, nature, culture, art, heritage, history and people of that land, which is the main attraction for savvy travelers who come to explore, dream, discover, enjoy, relax, and immerse in cultural and natural heritage.

We are luxury minded experts with many years of experience and know-how expertise in creating unique and memorable travel experiences and creating memories to last a lifetime. Luxury is experiential and personal. We will exceed travelers’ expectations and promise them smooth travel with our award-winning service from our hearts to theirs.

As a long-standing player in the tourism industry, what do you think is negatively affecting the development of tourism?

I find Vietnam’s tourism sector lacks a long-term strategic vision, and development is scattered and unsustainable. In my opinion, there are four major issues that Vietnam needs to act upon immediately. The first is the formulation of tourism policies, the second is human resources, the third is tourism products, and the fourth is effective tourism promotion.

4. The Politburo has issued a resolution on tourism development for the first time and the government is also implementing solutions to develop tourism into a spearhead economic sector. What solutions would you prioritize to promote rapid and sustainable tourism development?

Should must review after 5 years, it’s important to move quickly from resolutions to specific government action, from the central to local levels. Most important is to change the perception of tourism at all levels. Officials must be aware that tourism earns revenue and creates jobs. I have proposed a tourism ministry at many tourism conferences, which would operate independently from the central to local level, following the Thai model. Of the four issues I mentioned above, priority should be given to creating more tourism products, providing incentives for businesses to do what the law does not grant.

We saw that inland waterways were too rudimentary to develop Red River tourism in the north. Hanoi’s ports are inferior to those in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Connecting Ha Long, Hai Phong, Ninh Binh and Nam Dinh, the great Red River was once the “King of Waterways”, according to the patriotic entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi, who transformed transportation on the waterways of the north of Vietnam as a whole in the early 20th century. The poor development of Red River tourism is a major setback for Hanoi’s tourism. We bring heritage alive and conquer all rivers in the North by cruising expeditions.

5. Hotel and resort investment is currently booming. Is this a good sign or a bad sign?

Vietnam’s tourism sector lacks forecasts and vision, and this type of sudden development is not sustainable. Many places with large-scale construction are actually ruining the landscape and tourism resources, such as Sapa, Ba Na, Nha Trang, and Phu Quoc Island. We never have any foreign tourists booking cable car tours. They go to Sapa, but not to take the cable car. Nha Trang has welcomed Chinese and Russian guests in massive numbers, so hotels mushroomed.

With a lack of a proper architectural planning, this affects the natural landscape and it also deters other Europeans from coming to Nha Trang. Now, it is completely dependent on Chinese travelers, but this will lead to an oversupply of hotels for Chinese mass tourists.

Encouraging European guests back to Nha Trang is difficult. Phu Quoc Island, meanwhile, is growing too quickly and this is also not good. Ha Long Bay is getting more and more crowded and polluted and local authorities do not create new experiences, instead banning popular activities such as swimming and visiting caves and new overnight cruises. Vietnam’s tourism sector should focus on the quality of incoming visitors and the quality of destinations. I am more sad than happy.

6. It seems you love the style of Emperor Bao Dai, as Emperor Cruises is based on his style. Is this style attractive for tourists? Do you find that foreign tourists are interested in this cultural nostalgia?

The Emperor Cruises Nha Trang, Halong and. Phu Quoc was inspired by the lavish lifestyle of Emperor Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last monarch. Built in the style of the 1930s, each suite features interesting stories from his life. There are eight ensuite cabins with a private balcony, ocean views, a butler service, and a limousine.

Cruising artfully, Emperor Cruises aims to bring a truly all-inclusive cruising experience, where you can enjoy every single moment on board and be treated like kings and queens with exquisite cuisine, 24-hour room service, and an interesting itinerary featuring many fun activities. Moreover, you can choose to dine whenever and wherever you wish. There are unlimited free massage and sauna services, food and beverages, and no bill to pay at the end.

I studied Vietnamese history and adore this important historical figure, who tried new ways to improve the country but at the wrong time. Incorporating culture and history into travel experiences is part of our plans and visitors love this nostalgia. Many travelers are familiar with the history of Vietnam but not so many people know about the emperor.

I was also fortunate enough to meet Mr. Nguyen Dac Xuan, a Hue historical researcher, and gathered a lot of unknown information and rare artifacts concerning Emperor Bao Dai, Queen Nam Phuong, and other members of the royal family. We would like visitors to experience the essence of Vietnam through authenticity, culture, heritage, history, and people while cruising with us amid the natural wonders of the country.

7. The last question, how about your sailing plam along the coastline of Vietnam and how about the recovery of your Lux Group in 2023?

We enjoyed 65% recovery last year and 75-90% to pre-pandemic levels. Some markets such as German market, 100% back to 2019 levels. We expect and prepare a full recovery next year. We go to ITB Berlin to promote our authentic, unique travel experiences and call for investors for our very potential of cruises and yachts in Vietnam.

The marine tourism sector, which is a top priority of the country’s sea economy Master Plan 2030-45, has been struggling to attract investment in cruise harbours and coastal infrastructure to lure globally branded cruise fleets connected with worldwide destinations. Cruise services are one of the key products in building marine tourism as a core part of the ‘blue sea economy’ plan.

The coast of Vietnam is ranked the 33rd in the world. This nation ranks in the top 12 countries for the most beautiful bays in the world including Halong, Lan Ha, Lang Co and Nha Trang. Although Vietnam has 3,260 km of coastline, 125 world- class beautiful beaches, 3000 islands, and 28 coastal cities, it still does not have a cruise ship fleet. Vietnam must have cruise ships along the coast and to carry passengers from Vietnam to other countries.

Making a 67.3 per cent share of the country’s total tourism revenue, a top favourite ocean destination among 156 beach nations, cruise tourism in Vietnam has not been promoted properly so far. The number of cruise tourists accounts for only 2-3% of the total number of international visitors to Vietnam. It’s necessary to attract investors to invest in cruise ships and yachts with Vietnamese nationality that run along the coast. Be the first to cruise along Vietnamese coast in 2025 aboard our Lux Cruises!

CEO Pham Ha – Leading is serving

Mr. Pham Ha founded Lux Group with a modest capital of 1,000 USD. From his own strength, his optimistic spirit and profound philosophy, he has turned Lux ​​Group into a large corporation focusing on luxury tourism with Luxury Travel and two brands Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises. Destination Review had a talk with him to listen to the thoughts and values ​​this “captain” wants to spread.

Mr. Pham Ha founded Lux Group with a modest capital of 1,000 USD. From his own strength, his optimistic spirit and profound philosophy, he has turned Lux ​​Group into a large corporation focusing on luxury tourism with Luxury Travel and two brands Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises. Destination Review had a talk with him to listen to the thoughts and values ​​this “captain” wants to spread.

Lux Group and I focus on bringing special experiences and emotions to our customers. As the experiences in each place vary, we have to create different products.

The Emperor Cruises brand was founded with inspiration from Bao Dai King, who owned countless palaces across Vietnam, so the Emperor brand focuses on the royal-life experiences, offering guests comprehensive first-class luxury services. Emperor Nha Trang, for example, has itineraries for 60 guests like Day Cruise with activities such as diving, swimming and visiting the fishing village, or the Sunset cruise with activities like watching the sunset, enjoying dinner and cocktail party on the cruise. Emperor Bai Tu Long in Ha Long, on the other hand, offers 1- to 3-night stay on the yacht.

For those travelers who accept to pay more handsomely to get all-inclusive services onboard from wine and food to spa, Emperor offers unique experiences to satisfy travelers in this top high-end segment. It is also suitable for travelers who would like the highest level of privacy, personalization and authenticity in their experiences.

As for Heritage, it leans towards expressing Vietnamese cultural, historical, artistic and social values and is ​​inspired by the “King of Ship” Bach Thai Buoi. Heritage has a boutique concept and targets the 4-5-star segment, which helps it reach a wider range of customers compared to Emperor. Heritage has 20 rooms and can accommodate up to 60 guests. The Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan Cruise was also built to commemorate Bach Thai Buoi as indicated by its name “Binh Chuan”, one of his old ships. There is a bronze statue of him and 100 paintings commemorating the 100th anniversary of Binh Chuan first sailing onboard. In addition, we also collect and display ancient postcards of the original ship. With Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan, voyagers can enjoy a heritage space on board while “floating” among the natural heritage of Cat Ba Bay.

The division into many products makes it possible for us to meet demands from many segments in different markets. In addition, the two cruise brands exhibit different values ​​and offer different experiences.

To answer this, it can first start with my great love for artworks and collecting paintings has been a hobby of mine. Vietnamese Fine Arts contributes to the art world with lacquer paintings and silk paintings, which are also the main types of Pham Luc’s paintings. He is the artist whose artwork I adore and collect with very special sack paintings to describe the Vietnam War.

From this hobby, I realized that paintings and art in general can be the great assets of the country as they reflect national culture and history. Through paintings, we can understand more about the past and the present, the war, the heritage as well as the life of the Vietnamese people. They are all great features to introduce both Vietnamese and foreign visitors to our art, history and culture and that is why I choose to include these heritage values ​​on my cruises.

Besides paintings, the cruise also presents traditional Vietnamese costumes in the 30s, from royal attires to traditional ao dai. All of the above when converged on the Heritage Cruise Binh Chuan creates a “floating” cultural touch in the middle of the bay.

Visitors have a lot of time in their voyage, so they can experience and also learn more about the stories with ethnic values behind those very experiences. Instead of choosing to build the majestic Western-style ships, Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan chooses a true story to explore and express Vietnamese values ​​of art, history, culture, cuisine. This can be considered a continuation of patriotism from Bach Thai Buoi. Since Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan was deployed, many customers have rated their satisfaction level of 6-7 stars on 7-star scale, which marks a remarkable recognition for a product created by Lux Group.

In general, it can be said that tourism and travel has changed my whole life. I have worked in various fields but since I worked in tourism, I am truly happy. I realize that travel is my biggest passion and as I am happy with what I am doing, I can spread it to the entire Lux Group and to the member companies as well. All our teams see customer experience and satisfaction as their ultimate goal in work. Passion is also highlighted in Lux Group’s 5P guiding principles, which are Passion, Purpose, People, Planet and Profit.

In my opinion, in the tourism and service industry, making customers happy can lead to self-happiness, so I call this a happy career. If you want to be happy, you must do it from the bottom of your heart, make it the way you wish to experience, towards the customer and put the customer’s needs first. Therefore, the core value I orient to my team is always “delivering happiness”.

Only by perceiving customers as the biggest “boss” that keeps business running and helps the business pay for its employees, all of my teams are customer-centric, working for customers, and thus, contributing to Lux Group’s success over the past 15 years. After years of experience, “delivering happiness” has always been and will always be the company’s core value.

I think that to be a leader is also to serve: serve your people, your team and your customers to create the company’s revenue. With the same mindset, we can easily and harmoniously join hands in creating new generations of businesspeople who share the same thought. To me, “delivering happiness” means to deliver happiness for myself first, then for my employees, for my customers, for social communities and finally for company profits.

Before Covid, Lux Group mainly focused on inbound tourists. The global outbreak meant there were no longer international visitors, so the company quickly turned to domestic travelers, targeting the luxury customers of the domestic market. Conversion is a difficult decision as we have to retrain our employees to recaptivate the new target customers to understand them. Only after understanding them can we serve them better. It took us about a month to implement all the new changes after considering carefully between the two options – to close down or to adapt. Fortunately, everyone agreed to adapt to serve the domestic market. And once the decision has been made, everyone was very proactive in learning, training, and holding daily briefing sessions to create new products based on customer profiles and their consumption habits.

In addition, most of the company’s activities are digitalized, making it possible for our employees to work from home, and for us to manage more easily. Thanks to digital transformation, we could collect data, analyze customer sentiments and predict travel trends so as to offer suitable products to meet customers’ expectations.

When the social quarantine ended on April 30, we decided to immediately implement new plans for constrained travel demand in the Vietnam travel market. Therefore, as soon as the product was launched, people welcomed it very enthusiastically, helping us to recognize the signs of success as soon as we redefined the target market. In May, we launched 5,000 vouchers and they were sold out within 15 days. Moreover, Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan is also one of the busiest cruises that voyaged almost non-stop since April 30. This is another signal to help us realize that we are on the right path to recover, to develop and to generate stable cash flow.

In fact, thanks to Covid, we have realized that the Vietnamese domestic market has great potential with a rapid growing population of nearly 100 million people and increasing strength in consumption. 2020 marked the year Vietnamese got to know about luxury cruise trips for the first time, a part of which resulted from our incentives targeting Vietnamese tourists. What we did bears some resemblance to the motto of Bach Thai Buoi, which is Vietnamese travel within Vietnam and use Vietnamese service providers. Just like foreign visitors, many Vietnamese also want to explore the beautiful islands and bays of Vietnam such as Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba Bay or Nha Trang Bay while attending interesting activities on the cruise. Thereby, we changed our direction to domestic middle to high-end customers last year and received certain successes.

From now on, I have decided to focus more on Vietnam high-end travel market and set up an office for domestic and outbound markets. To summarize, Lux Group will both retain the original target market and expand to other potential markets, which means approaching the inbound market along with the domestic market and outbound market. I think this will be a promising orientation and will invest wholeheartedly in the future.

Lux Group and I have planned to deploy the new project on Pu Luong. Pu Luong is a wonderful destination located in the middle of terraced fields, which are highly likely to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. Our team plans to launch a 35-room boutique resort to take advantage of nature and indigenous culture to target wellness travelers.

Regarding the cruises, the Emperor Cruises brand plans to add another 150-seat cruise to Nha Trang in 2021 and to bring more ships to Phu Quoc by 2022. With Heritage, we are currently inspecting and developing another ship named Bach Thai Buoi, which is expected to come into operation in 2022, following the success of Heritage Cruises Binh Chuan.

My deepest desire for the company is to conquer all rivers in the North and realize Heritage’s biggest mission: to sail along the coast of Vietnam – just like Bach Thai Buoi sailing from Hai Phong to Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and Saigon, then to Cambodia and other ports in Asian region. These are the upcoming plans and missions of Lux Group and Heritage Cruises brand.

Heir to the legacy of Vietnam’s king of ships

Inspired by the heritage and noble spirit of the entrepreneur, Bach Thai Buoi, who was recognized as the ‘king of ships’ in Vietnam in the early 20th century, Lux Group founder Pham Ha rewrites the story of the country’s cruise industry. 

In the mid-1980s, Pham Ha accompanied his father on the large cruise ship Thong Nhat, bought from Norway after liberation to help people earn a living, that sailed along the Vietnamese coastline, from north to south. As a boy from the countryside, Pham Ha’s eyes were opened to the outside world and the experience and beautiful scenery made a huge impact on him and captured his heart. From then on, his childhood dream was to own a cruise ship.

As he grew up, Pham Ha showed an ability to speak foreign languages and as a student he became interested in the tourism industry. Working as a tour guide, his fluency in English and French enabled him to show off Vietnamese culture and people to foreign tourists.

The journey with his father from Haiphong to Saigon helped him to realize that each new destination brings a new perspective, new vision and new thinking, which can positively affect people. The beauty of travel is not just going from one point to another, but a journey of life experiences.

Vietnam started to develop its tourism industry in the early 1990s when it opened its doors to foreign tourists, but more than a decade later, travel companies were still having to work hard to attract them to the country. Backpackers were coming in their droves, but the accommodation choices were limited, not good quality, and service standards were poor.

Thanks to his early good fortune, Pham Ha had a vision for the future combined with his personal determination to succeed, and he decided to take a totally different direction by concentrating on meeting the small, but growing, demand for quality accommodation and higher standards of service.

In 2004 he founded Luxury Travel, focusing on the niche luxury market for big spenders, creating the right travel products, providing authentic and unique experiences, and offering personalized service, catering to the wishes of individual customers. Very quickly he became the acknowledged luxury travel expert in the field. And he did this with only a starting capital of 1,000 USD.

For Ha, happiness is a journey, not a destination, and his aim was purely to make visitors to Vietnam happy and understand the culture and history of his beloved homeland.

For Ha, happiness is a journey, not a destination, and his aim was purely to make visitors to Vietnam happy and understand the culture and history of his beloved homeland.

Many friends and colleagues were sceptical about this bold idea and were worried that he might be being a little reckless. But Ha was determined, and he asserted that in order to succeed, he must find a new direction, be a pioneer, and become an expert in that field.

In the early days of his career, his father gave him a lot of encouragement, strength and faith in his own abilities. He advised him to go away to study in the city, always believe in himself, never get discouraged, and succeed without becoming arrogant. “Live well, my son” he said. He always strongly believed in the ability of his children and encouraged them to pursue their dreams and to strive to be the best, whatever they did. He urged him to take the first steps to opening his own business and not be afraid to venture into the unknown.

Always be a pioneer

Starting a business in Vietnam was difficult, especially in the early 2000s, and with such a small amount of capital. Red tape and policies changed frequently, and the internet was still a new thing in Vietnam. Pham Ha’s biggest challenge was to get the message out about Luxury Travel and to encourage guests to book through him. He had to find a new way to achieve this.

When many people didn’t understand the capability of the internet or how to use it effectively, Ha realised that this technology would be the key to helping him to make money. He tinkered around on the computer and started to build a website that met international standards and had the technology to take credit card payments. Right from 2004, when e-commerce was little known in Vietnam, tourists around the world who wanted to visit Vietnam were able to book tours and pay online through Luxury Travel’s website.

After just four years,  was recognized by the Ecommerce Development Center (EcomViet) and Vietnam E-Commerce Association as one of the top 10 websites in the country.

“I dared to think outside the box and take a risk. If we pioneer and become the best in our field, we will be able to dominate the market. My success is thanks to continuing innovation, creativity, and taking those risks” Ha said.

Luxury Travel encountered difficulties in the 2008 financial crisis, along with everybody else. There were also difficulties when visitor numbers started to increase in general to Vietnam, as there weren’t enough high-end hotels available to meet the demand and the infrastructure was poor. The company found that it had to pay over the odds to 5-star hotels, to guarantee rooms for their guests, as hotels could easily fill their rooms and showed no loyalty to wholesale travel companies.

As tourism to Vietnam continues to increase, one of the biggest challenges for the tourist industry is human resources, finding suitable employees with the service and language skills to meet the requirements of international and increasingly sophisticated domestic tourists.

Fifteen years ago, this was an even greater problem. Pham Ha had to recruit and train young people who had excellent foreign language skills, but did not have the professional knowledge and expertise in the tourism service industry. He had to teach them sales techniques and soft skills, even writing emails to guests. But he stressed, the most important factor for the tourism industry is personnel having the right attitude.

“Young people, especially students, are a blank sheet of paper, but it is harder to train those who are already in the workplace and may have fixed ideas. For training, I prefer new graduates because giving them the skills to develop the appropriate attitude will be the first thing to draw on that blank piece of paper. In the service industry, attitude is of the utmost importance, but the most difficult to learn” Ha said.

Ha’s childhood dream of owning a cruise ship became a reality.

Touching hearts to win over luxury travelers

For the Chairman of the Lux Group, it is not only customers who are the service users, but also his company employees. In order to please external customers, the guests, he must firstly satisfy internal customers, his employees.

“My management style is to look after my employees so that they will look after our customers as well” Ha shared.

Pham Ha treats colleagues the same way he expects them to treat their upmarket customers.

Pham Ha treats colleagues the same way he expects them to treat their upmarket customers, by listening and with consideration. He maintains an equal relationship between himself, the boss, and his employees.

He might have to wear an elegant suit when entertaining guests in smart restaurants, but in the office he dresses as they do, in a T-shirt, jeans, and sports shoes. Out of the office, at a company dinner, the employees always join the senior management team at the same table.

“I am a leader without position as I do not need power to be successful. Leadership is the art of influencing and sharing a vision for people to follow and achieve. Your vision is your future. Absolutely everyone is listened to and their ideas respected” Ha added.

As a leader, Ha always likens himself to being a bus driver, taking his employees on a journey with a mission of bringing happiness, based on the ‘5 Ps’: passion, people, purpose, planet, profit.

He ensures that his employees are aware that their clients are really the only ‘boss’ in the company. In order to bring in money and a better life for all, there must not only be many customers, but they must also be satisfied with the level of service they receive. That way, they come back time and again and recommend Luxury Travel to other wealthy guests. Word of mouth is free but powerful advertising.

According to the Lux Group management team, building a corporate culture is a must, one in which everyone must understand the thinking of the clients and translate this into action. The end of the working day is 5.30 pm at Lux Group, but many people often voluntarily stay at work until nearly 9 pm, to complete their work and ensure the best outcome for clients. Ha’s secret is empowering and trusting the employees to work well.

“If you believe, you have to give power, but if you want to give power, you must know exactly what your staff need and how to develop them. The key is to find the right people for the right work. I only employ the smartest people who share my values”.

The task of the leader is to set goals for employees and for them to work hard to find ways to achieve them. Empowering employees to be creative and innovative is important. For new recruits, the company ensures that it creates the ideal environment for them to use their talents, to listen to them and put into practice new ideas if they are feasible and effective. And, of course, to recognize their achievements by rewarding them well.

Leading with kindness is the key for Ha to retain his talented staff because, without training employees will inevitably leave, and training brings benefits and creates an environment where employees want to stay.

“My efforts go into creating an environment of creativity, empowerment, fairness and reward. This approach has encouraged everyone to contribute and the organization has gone from strength to strength with a consistently happy team”.

The biggest goal he sets is that 99% of customers must be satisfied with their travel experience of the company. The customer is not a king until the employee treats them as a king and, at the same time, treats their colleagues the same way to ensure the absolute best in teamworking.

According to Ha, there is not one simple definition of luxury as everybody has a different view depending on their own needs. For example, a person who has traveled to more than 70 countries like Ha, luxury is not a new concept so personalization to meet their requirements precisely is paramount.

At Lux Group, luxury travel is defined as experiences and personalized services. To win over luxury customers, the key is to understand the customer completely and to be able to provide experiences that meet their expectations, touch their hearts, and even give them a pleasant surprise. “Customers only buy the products that best meet their needs, so it is important to understand our customers to be successful in sales” Ha said.

High-end spenders only account for 3 per cent of the total number of visitors to Vietnam. Unlike mass tourism, where many people prefer to travel in groups, upmarket tourists often travel in small groups of family and friends with specific requirements such as privacy, unique, and unusual experiences.

Luxury tourism is no longer a narrow concept limited to staying in 5-star hotels, but ranges across the whole experience including the method of transport, such as helicopter or seaplane, and excursions that are not normally available to regular tourists, such as a private viewing in an artist’s studio. To these clients, the most important aspect is that it is memorable.

Seniors have money, education, experience, are well-traveled, and know exactly what they want, so Ha ensures his staff are particularly well trained and endeavours to offer new products regularly, continually upgrading to meet the highest standards.

Tourism is a key journey, so the Lux Group always focuses on creating heart-warming memories for customers at every point of dealing with the company, from the initial contact, either through personal recommendation or the website, talking to employees, and making the booking. Customers always enjoy personalized service at each stage of the booking.

“A brand is like a promise; customers buy brand promise. If expectations are met and even surpassed, the guests will feel completely happy and even wowed by the whole experience. They are then guaranteed to tell friends and family who will want to find out more” Ha shared.

Doing business is to show empathy, loyalty, and responsibility, qualities that Pham Ha particularly admired in the noble spirit of Bach Thai Buoi, who promoted Vietnamese society so that An Nam, at the beginning of the 20th century, could revive the economy, encourage development, and create a noble class strong enough to rebuild the country and compete with the Chinese and French.

Ha’s childhood dream of owning a cruise ship became a reality.

He was inspired to build Heritage Cruises, a boutique-style brand that is the essence of Vietnamese heritage, rich in culture, history, art, and the quintessence of the north. This unique ship is based on a design seen on old postcards and imbues the spirit of the ship, Binh Chuan, that Bach Thai Buoi launched more than 100 years ago on September 7, 1919.

This historic ship, the largest vessel in An Nam at that time, was the first ship to sail from Cua Cam, Haiphong to Saigon and arrived in port on September 17, 1920. It was warmly received by the business community there who saw the possibilities to create new markets and business and revive national pride – “le premier bateau Annamite à Saigon”- the first Annamese ship to dock in Saigon.

“I acknowledge the culture, traditions, and aristocratic spirit of the early 20th century. That is the reason tourists come, to learn about the culture and history and get under the skin of the country” Ha stated.

Bach Thai Buoi also implemented his principles for the market: trade, trust, perseverance, energy, respect for profession, trade association, public relations, thrift, and focus on the domestic market. His values and business lessons still apply to the current trading conditions to manage effectively businesses and succeed in the marketplace.

“Money is just a tool; the most important thing is what we bring to society”. For Ha, money is not the most important aspect of his work; his passion for what he wants to achieve is the main reason that led him to work in travel, and this helps him to continue his lifelong project and be determined to develop this service industry to the benefit of all.

Ha admits that he is passionate about art and culture. Collecting works of art is a personal hobby which helps him to maintain a work/life balance, as he feels that it is sometimes necessary to slow down to feel better, more creative and happier. You always do what you like and like what you do. He especially likes the paintings by artist Pham Luc, known as the Picasso of Vietnam, because they touch his emotions. In Pham Luc’s paintings, Ha relives his childhood, his parents’ war memories, and Vietnamese stories told through the intriguing combination of colors, lines, and shapes.

That is the reason why hundreds of paintings by Pham Luc are displayed on Emperor Cruises ships (part of the Lux Group) in Nha Trang and Ha Long. Heritage Cruises is the first floating art cruise in Vietnam, as Ha has created a small onboard art gallery featuring the artworks of Pham Luc, works of other famous Vietnamese artists, and rare artworks from the Indochina School of Fine Arts.

Ha said that visitors are very excited about this unique concept and he plans to hold an art auction on the cruise soon. He has just completed his second book about Pham Luc called “A life of art”, following his first book “Picasso of Vietnam, paintings and life”.

The founder of Lux Group said: “A good life is a successful one when judged by others. Our personal contentment, when we do something well, is felt deep within our soul, our heart and our mind”.