|Every room at the Sol Beach Samcheok has an ocean view. / Courtesy of Daemyung Leisure Industry|
By Kang Seung-woo
Daemyung Leisure Industry has been recognized as the No. 1 resort operator in Korea behind its leading quality of accommodations such as Vivaldi Park and Sol Beach.
However, the company is not resting on its laurels as it is seeking to raise its profile in the global market with a variety of programs and approaches as well as its high-quality properties that it hopes will appeal to foreigners travelling to Korea.
|Yoon Heuk-rak, managing director of sales and marketing at Daemyung.|
"Our business has focused on boosting domestic demand so far, but with the domestic market shrinking over recent years, the management has decided to find a new growth market, or the global market," said Yoon Heuk-rak, managing director of the sales and marketing division at Daemyung, in an interview with The Korea Times.
"Practically, favorite destinations of foreigners visiting Korea are Seoul, Busan and Jeju Island, so our resorts located in other areas are not their first options. Worse, they do not have much information on our facilities, as well."
Daemyung's flagship properties such as Vivaldi Park resort complex and Sol Beach Hotel and Resort, are located in Gangwon Province.
To attract more inbound tourists, Daemyung initiated a global marketing campaign three years ago and Yoon said its progress bar has hit some 30 percent till now.
Foreign travelers are divided into three categories: foreign independent tour (FIT), group tour and meeting, incentive tour and convention and exhibition (MICE), and FIT and MICE are on the radar of the operator.
To this end, the company is now providing sales representatives overseas.
"We cannot cover the entire Chinese and Southeast Asian markets physically, so we have decided to go with general sales agents (GSAs) -- locals from each country who promote and sell our tour programs there on behalf of us," Yoon said.
When it comes to China, the market is huge, so the company's business is focused on coastal cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou. Other than China, Daemyung is also working hard to attract tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore, who can afford to travel overseas.
However, unfortunately, its efforts directed toward the Chinese market have hit a snag due to fallout from a diplomatic spat between Seoul and Beijing over the former's deployment of a U.S. missile defense shield, which led to the Chinese government's ban on Chinese group tours to Korea in March 2017.
"As soon as we embarked on the China business, the diplomatic issue broke out, stopping our business cold," he said -- although Chinese independent travelers started returning to Korea after the missile tensions began cooling off this year.
However, MICE travelers, lucrative to the local tourism industry, have yet to show a sign of returning, Yoon said.
In 2014, Amway China's incentive tour made headlines as it brought nearly 15,000 top performing employees to Korea, which was estimated to have generated an economic ripple worth 57.7 billion won ($52 million).
While still striving to overcome the Chinese woe, Daemyung is also coming up with a new business approach to lure other Asian tourists.
"We are now focusing on intensively promoting some of the 15 properties that we believe are competitive enough to appeal to foreigners and they are the MVL Hotel in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, the Vivaldi Park in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, the Delpino Golf and Resort in Goseong, and the Sol Beach in Yangyang and Samcheok," he said.
According to him, the MVL, located near Seoul and Incheon International Airport, serves as a de facto base camp, while the Vivaldi Park features various attractions such as a ski slope, a water park and a golf course.
The Delpino and the Sol Beach can appeal to those who want to enjoy the natural environment like Mount Seorak and the East Sea.
In addition, Daemyung is offering hallyu-themed tour programs that allow foreign tourists to experience authentic Korean life such as having chimac, or chicken and beer in Korea that receives rave reviews from foreigners, and enjoying hallyu performances in cooperation with the Korea Tourism Organization.
Furthermore, it is also considering establishing overseas branches.
"The overseas branch plan is under review at the management level in a move to have a full grasp of each country's field situation. Plus, it could be used for varying business purposes in the future," Yoon said.