Elijah Ferrian learns about the new Halong Bay travel site, Halong Hub, and peers into what the future of booking travel may look like in Vietnam.
Readers may remember meeting DK Long back in July when we ran a piece about his digital marketing and web design company, Dagiac. Well, now the young tech maven is back with a new project, Halong Hub, and he’s really excited about sharing it with the world.
Halong Hub, founded in June of 2016, is a different kind of online booking site, and it’s unique in that it focusses solely on cruise line travel in Halong Bay, the surrounding area, and sports a couple of features that are pretty cool for a travel site.
DK wasn’t always so keen on involving travel in his life, as he illustrates to me when we sit down to discuss the unveiling of his new website.
“One of the things that I love to do now is travel around my country,” DK says. “In the past I was never really interested in traveling. I thought I didn’t have time, because I was working constantly. I really never got out to see everything Vietnam has to offer. I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but I used to think that Sapa was in the central part of the country!”
A few things fell into place, and DK was introduced to a client from up in Hanoi that ended up becoming a business partner. With that connection came a professional reason to travel: he needed to develop websites and marketing campaigns centered around travel in Vietnam, yet, he’d never been outside of Saigon.
The ‘no-nonsense’ version of DK Long thought it beneficial for him to actually get out there to experience what Vietnam has to offer for travelers.
“I’m an IT guy,” DK laughs. “I’ve been working in computers and technology since I was a teenager. I’m self taught, and by the time I started my own web development company, Dagiac, I had never really travelled. After the change over to more digital marketing work, I started exploring more of Vietnam, and became a cofounder of Halong Hub. Traveling just got me out there, meeting new friends, having great experiences, and I really started enjoying it.”
Long was receiving first hand experience in not only the beauty of his country, but in the process of traveling in Vietnam. Trying to look at taking a short trip to Dalat, or a relaxing cruise in Halong Bay from both eyes of a traveler from abroad, and a local trying to get away from the city.
“After getting experience of what it is like to travel in this country, both the positives and negatives, I decided I really wanted to be a part of building up the tourism industry in Vietnam,” DK says. “There is so much potential, and not just for foreigners, but for all of us that call Vietnam home as well.”
While there were plenty of good times to be had exploring different regions of this great country, the bottom line is that all good has a negative counterpart.
“We started Halong Hub because there is so much to see, but it can be difficult to get the experience that you dream of.” DK tells me while I peruse the website. “Especially if you don’t speak the language, and don’t have any contacts in Vietnam. People get overcharged, or the services they were promised end up not being exactly as advertised. We’re here to change all of that, and we’re starting with Halong Bay cruises.”
Basically, Halong Hub compiles the best cruise ship tours of Halong Bay, cuts out the middlemen that drive prices up, and keeps the consumer updated on price changes, and special offers. They have dedicated customer support, and they plan on running sweepstakes and contests regularly. A handful of winners have already gotten a free cruise through Halong Hub’s contests.
They have developed an intuitive, easy-to-use platform that guarantees users will get the best room offer as soon as humanly possible, at the most competitive price, because they work for guests directly.
They utilise ‘live room’ availability that’s updated daily, and with offices in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, you can call them or live chat through the website at any time.
“Nothing really exists that is as specific as Halong Hub,” Long says. “We’re unique because we are a local company that works with all of the cruise owners directly, because we have real relationships with them. I am friends with a lot of these people.”
– Wait. What’s this about free cruises?
“Orchid Cruise is the first 5-star cruise line that goes to Lan Ha Bay, which was previously off-limits to tourists”, DK says. “The rooms have a private balcony, and we give away one Suite Balcony Room for two days and one night for two people.”
DK Long looks to expand this concept to other parts of Vietnam in the future, and he seems to think that this is the next step in the technological evolution of travel.
“There’s a lot of travel agencies here, but we’re creating a new kind of service online that is going to streamline exploration of Vietnam, and we’re proud of that.”