Making the move from F&B to organising events seemed a natural progression for Anh Pham, who was thrown his greatest challenge to date upon stepping into his role as accounts director at Sheraton Grand Danang Resort â€“ catering to 21 world leaders
How did you get into business events?
I have an F&B background, so the transition came naturally. (In my F&B roles), I occasionally engaged with event organisers. Weâ€™d chat about work and Iâ€™d find what they do interesting. I was also coached to sell, so in 2013 I started working in events and it started from there. Itâ€™s still about working with people but from a different perspective and angle. I love it.
What are your favourite aspects of the job?
To be a part of every eventâ€™s success is incredible. I feel like Iâ€™m helping to build something and seeing it from the initial stages, when we start planning, right through to the end event. I enjoy looking at all of the details for every aspect of the event, both internally and externally. To see guests happy at the end is always the greatest pleasure for me.
What was your best event?
It has to be the APEC gala dinner we hosted in November 2017. It is one of the most prestigious events Iâ€™ve had the chance to be a part of. Itâ€™s also the main reason I joined Sheraton. We hosted 21 world leaders, several VVIPs and all the big corporates from across the world, so there were many special arrangements we had to pay attention to.
How was it different to other events?
There were many security and safety concerns. It was a very rare event to be involved in.
Sheraton was built to host it. When I joined in August 2017, the property was still under construction, so everyone was racing about to make it happen by November. The preparations had started about six months before I began my role.
What are your main challenges?
On a daily basis when I communicate with clients, I have to manage their expectations with a can-do attitude. The last thing we want is to over-promise and under-deliver. To overcome this, I always try to be as realistic as possible.
I make sure we communicate well with emails and through phone conversations. If thereâ€™s the possibility of them visiting, Iâ€™ll ask them to come over and see the product itself, what we can realistically accommodate and give them a real vision of how itâ€™s going to be.
How do you see the business events industry developing in Vietnam?
Vietnam is a new destination compared with traditional ones like Thailand and Indonesia.
I think it will continue to grow significantly because there are many things to offer here. Many international hotel brands are here and starting to expand, and we have a lot of new brands opening too. We have everything it takes (to attract business events): infrastructure, great food, good technology to support international conferences, and a rich culture.
What more is needed to grow Danangâ€™s events appeal?
Accessibility and flight connectivity are the main issues. With the opening of the new international terminal at Danang International Airport last May, we are seeing more direct flights being operated, and hope for even more and increased frequency in the future.
Howâ€™s your events calendar looking for 2019?
We have healthy bookings of both regional and international events.
A major event we are hosting in 2019 is an aviation conference taking place in March. For the last three years the conference has been held in Singapore with participants coming from across the world, including leading figures in the aviation industry. For 2019, organisers decided to move to a new location and selected Sheraton Grand Danang after attending an event at our resort. The contract was eventually signed 10 months (ahead of the event dates), with an estimated total of 700 guestrooms booked for the three-day event.