Tuyet used to work at a non-profit organisation supporting indigenous communities in a rural province in northern Vietnam. In awe of the stunning landscape, and in recognising the need for economic opportunity to reduce local poverty, Tuyet and two of her colleagues were inspired to establish a socially responsible tourism company. In 2015, they launched ‘Employment and Society Development’ (YESD) in three indigenous communities in the Ha Giang province. The enterprise trains local community members in tourism and English skills and implements development projects to benefit the wider community.
YESD expanded its tour operations, but with the departure of one of the co-founders and a change in the income model, Tuyet has found it challenging to manage existing projects, while also increasing sales and maintaining a work-life balance. She joined the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in November 2017 looking for support to improve her marketing and project management skills and implement strategies to reduce stress.
Tuyet was matched with Kirsty, an entrepreneur who owns her own coaching and consulting business based in the United Kingdom. Kirsty is an experienced mentor in the programme and her expertise in business management, marketing and personal development made for a great match.
Starting with a deep dive in marketing, Kirsty helped Tuyet define her target market and revise her business pitch. They reviewed her digital marketing, including discussing key terms to optimise her websites prominence on search engines and implemented a social media schedule to increase customer engagement. Kirsty encouraged Tuyet to re-engage her current database of customers to leverage referrals and to reach out to local hotel and international tourism agencies to help advertise her tour packages. Tuyet has also more recently approached two social media influencers (bloggers) as a way to increase the exposure and appeal of YESD.
Turning their attention to work-life balance and stress management techniques, Kirsty and Tuyet identified time management as a key priority. They discussed putting in place deadlines, setting follow-ups and using a spreadsheet to track her time and help balance her responsibilities.
To help with capacity, Tuyet also signed an official partnership with a Singaporean University in June, where five large groups of students will volunteer for the social enterprise in 2019. Partnerships with two other communities in Northern Vietnam have also been confirmed.
These new techniques are already generating positive results. Throughout the year Tuyet has seen a steady increase in the number of tours she’s offered.
She says: “From an increase of 40% increase to up to a 400% increase in most recent months, I’ve not only reached my tour goals, but exceeded them!”
Tuyet also feels more confident in herself, in both her ability to manage multiple priorities and to do so without sacrificing her wellbeing. She added, “Kirsty’s very motivating and open. She is doing a lot of things at the same time so it makes me feel that a lot of work does not mean being too stressed.”
Of their partnership, Kirsty says: “It’s been a great experience working with Tuyet. She has an inspiring mission and is determined to drive local community development. I am sure we’ll stay in touch.”
Looking to the future, Tuyet hopes to expand YESD to support more communities, increase partnerships with institutions and launch public campaigns to increase awareness about responsible tourism.
It’s been a great experience working with Tuyet. She has an inspiring mission and is determined to drive local community development. I am sure we’ll stay in touch.