Marketing Lessons from Ba Na Hills and the Famous Golden Bridge

I'm a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds - Mike Tyson

Ba Na Hills is the dream of Sun Group, one of the largest developers throughout Vietnam.

Building off of the legacy of the early 1900's when the French settled in Vietnam, the mountain park located near Da Nang in Central Vietnam's mountains captures the rich history of the region paired with modern day attractions that are a must-see for social media users.

When you arrive to Ba Na Hills from the Da Nang area, the first thing you notice is the investment made in the infrastructure getting you to your destination. Once inside the resort area, the roads are first-world with lush landscaping to make you feel relaxed.

As you enter the park, you can purchase a ticket that will allow you the opportunity to ride the world's longest single-track cable car soaring 19,000 feet into the clouds. WARNING...if you are afraid of heights, now is a good time to start practicing your meditation techniques to enjoy the ride on this safe transportation vehicle.

Tickets to Ba Na Hills cost 750,000 Vietnamese dong (at the time of this article).

Walking to the aerial cable-car guests have the opportunity to take numerous photos for their social media. Sun Group is genius at creating social media friendly attractions from Ba Na Hills to their Helio night market in Da Nang.

From a marketing perspective, Sun Group nails it with numerous colors throughout their entertainment parks in Vietnam. They also create faux features for people to pose and get that perfect social media photo.

Reaching the top, guests arrive to a central village where they can find French inspired food, lodging, and the world's top coffee brand Starbucks.

Choosing to place Starbucks onsite via the licensed store program is a wise move for captive sites like Ba Na Hills because this activates certain areas to drive foot traffic and additional purchases from novelty retailers who are nearby Starbucks. Additionally, a strong global brand like Starbucks offers customers a better experience because they can have a taste of home while miles away. Choosing strategic partners is key to high-end guest experiences.

One area for improvement across Asia, and even in the United States, as people travel from all over the world, is the use of app based technology to improve the customer experience while keeping people engaged with your brand onsite and after they leave. Like many theme parks, the use of paper maps is still in practice which is not environmentally friendly and bulky. With free wi-fi onsite, I would recommend a mobile app for this site and others catering to tourists so people can download a map with location tracking and tips on how-to get to common sites like the Golden Bridge. Multiple languages can also be used to translate and offer recommendations on where to go for certain items to make the guest experience more pleasant as staff increase their knowledge of English throughout developing nations. Additionally, placing Google Translate inside an app like this at a global destination is another easy solution to improving communication as people travel from all over.

In conclusion, the Top 5 Marketing Tips from Sun World's Ba Na Hills resort are:

1. Social Media = free advertising to promote your product. Create experiences and sites that are visually appealing for people and the camera. Focus on optical illusions as well. While the Golden Bridge looks massive in most social media photos, like one is high above the world, the reality is, the optics make it seem this way compared to the reality once you arrive. All in all, it is still worth the visit!

2. Activate sites with key retail partners when you have a global audience and an audience with disposable income. While local is cool you still need proven retail partners to drive foot traffic and repeat purchases of key favorites like coffee.

3. Make it and they will come! From entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs to Sun Group, bold visions with the right resources can make anything happen. Create unique experiences that keep people coming back for more, like the Golden Bridge, which was added a few years later.

4. Listen to the next-generation and build your business to serve their expectations. Millennial and younger generations are glued to technology and spend a lot of their time walking with their hands glued to their devices. Incorporate the tech eco-system into your business model, design, and experience to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction. Remember, customer satisfaction is key because the next-generation leaves reviews about everything from what they ate to how someone treated them, good or bad.

5. People make the experience. While places focus on unique experiences from a design standpoint, one thing that must be designed well is a staff training program to ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction. In today's tech-focused society, remember, people are still the backbone of a solid business operation and the reason why guests have wonderful experiences. Training team members how to answer questions, resolve issues, and provide immediate attention to critical situations is paramount to your marketing efforts. Also, focusing on the inclusion of guests who have disabilities by making parks accessible is key. In today's global environment where air travel is easy, make sure you have the right translation services and cultural awareness training to meet the needs of the multi-cultural and multi-lingual travel industry.

Whether you are a marketer or a leisure traveler, there is something that you can take away from your time at Ba Na Hills in Vietnam. To learn more about the site and my experience, checkout the video below.

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© 2019 by Drew Aversa