Interview: A New Strategy with Linh Le, Group Managing Director of Asia DMC

Leading regional tour operator ASIA DMC is setting its sights on accelerated growth this year with the hiring of a young dynamic travel professional Mr. Linh Le.

An Australian citizen from Vietnamese origin, Mr. Le has been appointed Group Managing Director as ASIA DMC charts an expansion course across the region. The move follows the rebranding of the Hanoi-headquartered company at World Travel Market in London last year after 20 years operating under HG Travel in order to set the stage for growth in Southeast Asia and enable the company to offer exceptional tailor-made travel experiences to upscale travellers from around the world.

Mr. Le joins ASIA DMC following a six-year tenure with boutique luxury tour operator Trails of Indochina and is tasked with consolidating ASIA DMC’s position in Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos where it has offices, as well as expanding into Sri Lanka, China, India, and the Philippines this year. Since 1997, ASIA DMC has welcomed over 50,000 guests to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar.

“We are delighted to welcome such a motivated and modern leader to our team,” said HG Holdings CEO Tran Thanh Nam. “Linh’s knowledge of luxury travel experiences around the region is second to none and his ethics and relationships stand out, making him the ideal ambassador for ASIA DMC as we grow.”

Recently present in Bangkok, Linh Le gave an exclusive interview to ASEAN.travel where he expresses his vision over the company.

How do you feel to be at the top of ASIA DMC?

Linh Le-  It is a privilege to be aligned with a company of such great quality and vision – particularly in terms of social responsibility which is the cornerstone of all plans and strategies – and indeed growth potential. Our CEO and his team have created an exceptional foundation and reputation over the past 20 years and I look forward to making the next phase of growth equally successful while honouring the world-class professionalism and dedication to our partners.

How can you can make a difference as Group Managing Director ?

Linh Le- Of course, I want to focus on a high quality tourism product as a DMC but we want to associate it with sustainability and responsibility. What does it mean? We first want to work in priority with local suppliers in a bid to protect local knowledge, culture and people of Asia. This also includes educating local people we work with to about environmental issues, about ways to change their perception about their own world. We also work at educating more our guides to also be able to tell stories rather than just speak out explanations like machines…

You seem to be extremely concerned about sustainability…

L.L.- Yes we are especially as I am fully conscious about the negative impact that tourism can also create. I know that ASIA DMC cannot be 100% clean in its activities. This is why we propose to our guests to carbon offset their footprint on nature. We have a foundation at HG Holdings level by planting for example trees for any potential damage that we create such as the use of plastic bottles, wifi, air-con etc… This is anyway a lasting trend in the tourism industry. And after reaching western travellers, Asian consumers are now turning more sensitive to this issue.

How do you see the evolution of demand for tailored travels within Asia?

L.L.- We see two major trends emerging and we fully agree to tailor our products after this new demand. First of all, travellers want today AUTHENTICITY. Asia is extremely photogenic and exotic for travellers touring the continent but visitors want more than just nice pictures today. They want to have a glimpse of local life, they want to know more about the populations they visit. This is why we see more travellers looking at a cooking or agro-tourism experience. This is what I would call the “Sharability” of tourism!

The second big trend is the development of multi-country journeys. With the improvement of local infrastructures, better connectivity, it is easier than ever to go from one country to another, from one region to another. And this turns into a “must-do” also as weather is turning more unpredictable. Many travellers think that at least one of the regions in their itinerary would provide fine weather conditions.

What are the other challenges of a sharp rise in tourism in Southeast Asia?

L.L.- More places are getting more crowded but at the same time, our travellers want more intimacy in their travel. It forces us to become more adaptable, to propose new products. For example, 14 years ago, when we used to propose a visit to Angkor Wat, we advised our travellers to go there at sunset to avoid crowds. Now, the sunset over Angkor Wat is “sold out” and we either take people very early in the morning or we organise picnics at the site. Because between noon and 1h30, most tourists are away for lunch leaving the temples’ complex almost empty!

What are the emerging destinations for the years to come?

L.L.- We see Sri Lanka as a big hit for now while Indonesia and the Philippines generate more interest in Southeast Asia as people discover the wealth of cultures spread all across these archipelagos. Myanmar softened a bit recently also I believe that its potential remains untouched. It is a truly magical destination with one of the greatest diversity of landscapes in the region, from pristine beaches to snow-capped mountains. And regarding Thailand, the maturity of its tourism trade makes the Kingdom ideal for niche markets. Thailand offers such a wide variety of experiences to anybody…