Vietnam has a lot going for it. The country boasts an enviably strong
economy with GDP that grew an estimated 7.5% in 2022, with tourism and
manufacturing making good showings.
has a variety of attractive destinations and a rapidly growing
inventory of hotels and attractions. Domestic and foreign investors
continue to pour money into projects. Domestic trade has shown a marked
upturn, yet as an international MICE destination, Vietnam often gets
Opportunities for mid-sized events
The vast majority of international tourist arrivals in Vietnam head
for Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, Halong Bay and Phu Quoc, but other
visitor-friendly destinations could fill the demand for mid-sized
events. In central Vietnam for example, Angsana in Lang Co and the
brand-new Hoiana complex outside of Hoi An are both examples of
facilities that are served by international airports.
“After Vietnam reopened to international travel, it took a few months
for event organisers to monitor the situation and gain confidence,”
says Glen Cook, area general manager of Laguna Lang Co (which includes
Angsana) and AVP hotel operations, Vietnam at Banyan Tree Hotels and
Resorts. “We started welcoming the first international groups from
short-haul markets that had resumed flight connections.”
But Cook points out that the small number of flights will continue to
limit business. The first market to return when flights resumed in 2022
was Singapore, followed by South Korea and Taiwan as those routes were
A seaside town like Nha Trang, serviced by Cam Ranh International
Airport and its capacity for numerous international connections, has
huge potential for incentive and smaller events.
A group like Sovico Holdings, which owns low-cost airline VietJet Air
and whose hospitality portfolio includes the Ariyana and L’Alya in
nearby Ninh Van Bay, is one player that would like to find synergies to
build that market. With beaches, attractions and a modern
international airport in Cam Ranh that pre-pandemic had dozens of
international flights to China and Russia, look for Nha Trang to make
its way back onto the MICE map as well.
In the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh City, The Reverie Saigon boasts
one of the city’s most opulent ballrooms while old-school Caravelle
Saigon is a perennial favourite from its rooftop to its meeting rooms. A
Marriott property like the Renaissance Riverside Saigon is wooing
groups with its atypical Atrium space surrounded by guest rooms and with
its meeting rooms with river views.
“We expect that the second half of 2023 will show a good sign of
recovery in international MICE,” says Goetz Bauer, cluster general
manager of Vinpearl Landmark 81, Autograph Collection, located in the
tallest building in Vietnam. “Hopefully by the end of 2023 we will see
business back to pre-pandemic levels.”
Still room for bigger events
By far, the biggest challenge for Vietnam’s business events industry is the
lack of a high-capacity world-class exhibition venue. Public venues
like the National Convention Center of Vietnam in Hanoi and the Saigon
Exhibition and Convention Center, the country’s largest, don’t even come
close to the capacity available in other countries. “Vietnam’s easily
one of the most under-served exhibition markets in Asia,” commented one
One industry professional pointed out that a national convention
bureau like Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau would facilitate
events for organisers and exhibitors in Vietnam.
Despite the challenges the sector currently faces, there are reasons
to be optimistic. Many of the buyers at the 2022 ITE HCMC were from
India, an important source market for MICE. “That did lead to some
business,” according to a hotel general manager.
is one obvious reason to be optimistic: the importance of human contact
when doing business. “There is a huge hunger for in-person meetings,”
says Vinpearl’s Bauer. “People want to mingle and connect face to face.”
Where to meet in Vietnam
HO CHI MINH CITY
Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center,
the country’s premier venue, boasts two 9,000sqm exhibition spaces. It
hosts the Vietnam Motor Show and the International Travel Expo Ho Chi
Minh City (ITE HCMC), both of which are the country’s largest shows in
their respective sectors.
The stylish GEM Center has a total of nearly 10,000sqm across several floors,
the largest of which are two 1,800-capacity ballrooms. The large spaces
are used for exhibitions and product launches, but GEM also offers
unique locations like the rooftop bar area.
Landmark 81 is Ho Chi Minh City’s most distinctive skyscraper and contains the Vinpearl Landmark 81,
a Marriott Autograph Collection property. The hotel offers seven
meeting spaces from the intimate, dramatic boardroom Sky Studio on the
69th floor to a Grand Ballroom with a capacity of 1,500 people.
The Ariyana SmartCondotel Nha Trang
is a popular choice for domestic corporate events, with its largest
space able to hold up to 160 people. Its nearby sister property L’Alya Ninh Van Bay with its boardroom-type facilities and all-villa accommodations is better suited to smaller, more exclusive gatherings.
The integrated resort of Hoiana
offers a variety of hospitality options managed by Rosewood including
its first Khos lifestyle brand hotel in Southeast Asia. The 515sqm Grand
Hall can host 420 people under its 9m-high ceiling, whilst the Green
House can accommodate smaller meeting up to 132 standing guests.
Angsana Lang Co has a ballroom that can host up to
600 guests while an outdoor dining space offers views of the sea. With
the adjacent golf course and excursions to the historic Hue, the resort
is popular for incentive and teambuilding events.
As the largest facility in Hanoi, Vietnam National Convention Center
has 15,000sqm of meeting and exhibition space, the largest of which is
4,000sqm with a capacity of 3,500 people. Set in a 9.4ha park, the
distinctive building sports a wavy roof inspired by the waters of Halong