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Wheels turning for luxury partnerships   2008-09-21 - VIR

Mr Udo Loersch

 Taking hospitality services to the next level, Mercedes-Benz last week handed over the first imported top premium S-Class sedans for VIP transport. VIR talks with Mercedes-Benz general director Udo Loersch and Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel general manager Michael Golden about what they can do for the hospitality industry.

Recently Mercedes-Benz Vietnam (MBV) handed over fleets to five-star hotels in Ho Chi Minh City such as New World and Caravelle. How is the handover to the Park Hyatt Saigon different, Udo Loersch?

This is the first time in Vietnam a five-star hotel has decided to use the premium sedan S-Class for its VIP transport. S-Class is an imported MBV model. Previously, we handed over the E-Class, the luxury sedan we produced in Vietnam.

The handover will enable Mercedes-Benz & Park Hyatt to take hospitality services to the next level. What are the implications of this?

S-Class is the flagship saloon of Mercedes-Benz, the world’s best car. Each S350 unit is valued at $189,900. Park Hyatt Saigon is the first five-star hotel in Vietnam to have such a big investment of five cars. It is a start for a new level of high-class transportation to serve international travellers.

This event fired the first shot in starting a new trend to increase hotel services to satisfy customer demand. It is time for Vietnam to think hard about this as it will bring more value for the tourism industry. This is not simply a handover, but a pioneering step of the two sides to cooperate to increase luxury hotel
service standards.

What do you think about the line market segmentation in Vietnam? Does Mercedes Benz have any customers apart from Park Hyatt Hotel to sell similar luxury cars?

Vietnamese people’s demand for cars is high. More and more people want not only to own a normal car but also to have a safe and luxurious one. That’s why Mercedes-Benz has more and more customers. We also have many private S-Class customers.

In the context that car ownership taxes have increased and the special consumption tax will jump early next year, do you agree that Park Hyatt Hotel’s S-class imports means Mercedes Benz is changing its business strategy on imports rather than manufacturing and localisation after 13 years operating in Vietnam?

The S-Class cars handed over the Park Hyatt Saigon are among our first fleets imported into Vietnam this year. In our strategy we have defined that CKD is our main core business [95 per cent of sales volume], and CBU is an additional part [5 per cent]. With CKD and CBU models, we are happy that we can satisfy various customer demands for luxury cars.

How is your import car business going?

After our first announcement of the imported car business, we have received a lot of customer requests and purchase orders. At the moment we are importing more cars to Vietnam to deliver to those customers.

Michael Golden, what are the implications of this deal?

Our goal is to provide our guests with the ultimate in luxury and services. This arrangement is a perfect partnership in luxury and a valuable experience for our guests when staying at the Park Hyatt Saigon.

Why did you choose the S-Class over other producers?

Our decision process involved the evaluation of several luxury brands. It was decided that Mercedes offered the most complete package for our needs. This model also offers a level of comfort and safety which our guests are sure to appreciate.

What are Park Hyatt Hotel and Mercedes Benz’s partnership prospects after the deal?

Based on demand for our airport transfer services, we intend to increase the size of our fleet to ensure that we are able to provide all our guests with a consistent experience.
Be this for airport transfers, day tours or about town. I am sure there are many opportunities for our luxury brands to work together.

Do you receive any preferences in this deal?

Mercedes Benz has been very supportive in assisting us with meeting the needs of our fleet. This was also one of the key factors in choosing a supplier. We needed to ensure we had a partner who understood our requirements and was committed to supporting our goals.

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