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The hospitality professions are very broad and offer many career opportunities. We continue our tour of the professions and today we meet Mr. Keo Vanna. He is 36 years old. He was born and raised in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Currently, He is the founder and the Spa Owner of Soma Spa.




How did you get into the hospitality business?


In hospitality business, this took me years by encountering experiences into this field that brought me here today. Since I have been raised in a tourism province where hospitality is important, I was always curious to communicate with the tourists who crossed my path and it became a passion to interact with them, to discover their culture and share about mine. I wanted to develop some skills in that field and it became obvious that EHT Paul Dubrule which was recommended to me by a dear friend was the right training for me. Indeed it was famously one a best hospitality training program schools with passionate students who succeeded afterward in their field.


Soma Spa is welcoming its local and foreigner guests in the pure Khmer tradition.
"The Internships and the very interactive courses helped me to build my confidence and my Engish speaking skills too."

What studies did you follow to become a hospitality professional? I studied 2 years in school, I have begun in PHC for languages and I followed my “specialty year”. The Internships and the very interactive courses helped me to build my confidence and my Engish speaking skills too. It also boosted my motivation as I had the feeling to receive a very high quality education.


What do you like about your job? And what do you like less?

I like the design and the decoration in my spa. Eyes are also solicited as the other senses of our guests. It is a nice part of their experience. I never get tired of seeing the greats details in the quality of the service too. Maybe the technical aspects I really need to discuss with the engineers sometimes are not as natural as the artistic aspects. However it is as constitutive of the guest experience and I need to have a grip on it too.


SOMA SPA has been opened since 2019 by Mr. Vanna, professional therapist.

"I never get tired of seeing the greats details in the quality of the service too."

What is your best experience, story in this profession?

After having launched the business, my best experience was seeing it flourishing, being appreciated by guests who decide to promote it and be returning guests. The speed of this success also was stunning. From the first month we were already break even. And the reputation exceeded my expectation. The pride first, of course… and then the responsibility towards the teams, the partners, the guests also who put their trust in us. I owe them so much. I know it and it humbles me everyday.


Well, I love doing what I do. What makes it so special it is because it is not only a business. What we do in Soma Spa is my passion. I believe that being a successful entrepreneur requires to like very much the purpose of our business. Loving what we do, what we sell, being passionate about the content of our enterprise.


Soma Spa Team

 

Whether it is a coffee-shop or a fine dining restaurant, an eco-lodge or a 4-star hotel, there are several questions to ask and different steps to take before starting your project and opening your business. Then you might need the support of b.Consulting Hospitality Experts to conduct a feasibility study to help you position your business among the competition and become successful.


Our experts provide practical, profit-oriented advisory services to meet the local trends and follow the international hospitality standards at every step of your project.




The questions you should definitely ask yourself before starting:


Is my project financially sustainable ?

The first step is to develop your business plan that should describe how you are going to achieve your goals:

  • 360 scope analysis on products and services

  • Market analysis - S.W.O.T (Strengths - Weaknesses - Opportunities - Threats)

  • Marketing strategy

  • Financial planning and Revenue on Investment (ROI).

  • Budget: staff, development, manufacturing, marketing…


For most commercial businesses, the costs to get started can be considerable, in particular the land acquisition, the equipment, the furniture, the licenses and permits.


Besides the opening costs, you should consider the ongoing expenses such as the facility maintenance, salaries and taxes, advertising costs, insurance, office supplies, high-speed internet. It is essential to also establish FF&E and OS&E budget.


Do I target the right market ?


Analyzing the market and the competition is crucial because you don’t want to lose your investments. Once you know who your target customer is and who your competitors are, you will know which amenities to include and where the business's location should be. b.Consulting team of experts provide to clients an extensive knowledge and experience of the Cambodian market.




How am I going to do better than my competitors ?


To last in the Hospitality sector and do as well or even better than the competitors, it’s important to define the identity of your establishment with a proper branding (logo, signage), to write a unique storytelling about our project, to identify your target customers and to define the range of selling prices.

Another very important part of making your own mark is to build a solid and professional team. Therefore constant training, grooming and good manners teaching shall be one of your main focus the first year of running the business. A strong team helps to run operations faster, respond to customer inquiries efficiently and help to build brand awareness quicker. When the operations run smoothly, you can concentrate on keeping innovative ideas and have more time to work on developing your strategy.




How many staff will I have to hire ?


“The right person at the right position” is your new motto!

Based on the scale of your restaurant or hotel, you may think about the staff you shall hire. Make sure to hire enough staff for each job, and anticipate shift planning and back-ups in case of illnesses and vacations.

You may look for candidates with sufficient experience who can multi-task and are efficient. The current lack of experienced manpower in the hospitality sector may lead you to spend time and efforts on training programs. This is worth the investment considering the actual turnover, to keep your team strong together.


Time to define a detailed concept and adjust it to the market


Concept development is the key stone of your project. You shall ask the expertise of the b.Consulting team who will collect data of your industry and targeted markets.

They will prioritize your operational needs and challenges, determine your concept S.W.OT (and build with you your strategic planning.

In order to guarantee the success of your project, b. Consulting offers you assistance and advice in the project development process: Opening, Branding, Structuring.


Communication


No need to invest in a great concept if you don’t share it with your customers!


To be successful, you shall plan wisely your communication strategy by building your brand and find the most relevant channels to communicate directly with your guests.





Entrepreneurship is a long and inspiring journey. Cambodia is definitely a country where flexibility and relatively easy investment process are an advantage for those willing to start their own business.


However, the country is in constant evolution, administration regulations are changing quite often and you might want to watch regular updates.


Urban landscape and infrastructures are also evolving quickly which renders the choice of location a sensitive key stone.


At last, the young population aspiring for novelty can be as much of an asset as a disadvantage if you are not prepared to keep up with local trends. b.Consulting team is here to show you the good opportunities as well as the weaknesses of your project in Cambodia.


  • Contact b. consulting Hospitality Food & Beverage - click-here


Updated: May 12


How did you get into the hospitality business?


“In my career, to know new things I need to travel, to get the right taste I need to try the dish, to know a good spa service I need to choose a treatment “

Back to 2002 when I was at my first year in university in Phnom Penh, I joined my first hospitality career as a junior staff at travel agency, Asian Trails Ltd. I had zero experiences of how it works, but I had a chance to be a part of company and a chance to learn something new. To be able to promote international guests coming to Cambodia, I need to have more knowledge about my country; culture, climate, tourist areas from local to international choices, geographic, distance & a travel condition, price rang etc…through these experiences I also enjoyed myself exploring new things & new destination. My first proposal to my clients they confirmed, I was so happy, I feel I had a power to convince people by get to know more & know better of what I am doing and understand what my clients needed. Since then I had several team under my supervision this was a satisfied experience. I kept hunting and start to like hospitality career.


2011, I had an opportunity to improve myself at resort business, I joined at Song Saa Private Island as a first luxury island resort in Cambodia as Sales Manager. Working with 15 different nationalities team works. Luxury property in Cambodia is something new and challenge to promote within local and international. I really put all my energy to proof that in Cambodia can really have luxury property & warm services to welcome guest. It was a pleasant journey and a great experience to earn.

Laying flower petal for guest’s wedding at Song Saa

2017 until present, since I carry island experience as sales, another opportunity await for me at The Royal Sands Koh Rong Resort, first 5 stars resort in Koh Rong, as Director of Sales. The Royal Sands is an investment of Swiss & Cambodian (Royal Group). I join Royal Sands since resort is born, resort has been well presented to local and international tradeshow. We went through these years together including pandemic time and we are going to reopening stronger and better with support from everyone within the company and our local and international partners. I really love the island spirit, it’s pure, fresh nature, crystal sand and turquoise sea water.


Thida is sharing mangrove kayak experience with her little customer.

By naturally in blood, the hospitality is our passion and leisure, we also had our own wine bar business, Bouchon Wine Bar, which is more taking by my husband, Cedric & the Manager. It was joyful to see our friends and our customer enjoy a great place, great wine, delicious French food. This is all we need within hospitality, be our guests & enjoy!



What studies did you follow to become a hospitality professional?


I studied a bachelor degree of accounting, and continue a master degree in business administration at National University of Management in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I started my bachelor degree at young age, my family choose the subject for me because they thought it’s a right career for girl, being an accountant at office, no need to travel a lot outside. In my 3rd year I realized, accounting is not a subject I like but I can’t change. My next degree, I chose master degree in business administration to get to know extra knowledge in generally. But in my position I need to know well the digit to plan thing.


“What you studied is not really define what you want to be ! Cambodia is a developing country; passion can be changed by the other opportunity and the development around yourself… Take a chance and do it your best!”

What do you like about your job? And what do you like less?


What I like about my job is seeing the clients are happy, team are happy & the company is in a good move, we all achieving and working in same goal. Sometime could be annoying because when you are working in hospitality you won’t rest during weekend and public holidays.

Team work at Royal Sands

What is your best experience, story in this profession?


“My best experience story is finding peace within problem”

2017, when Royal Sands was just reopening, I met an elegant, sensitive guest at resort, he has right to be upset because we couldn’t fix a villa on time for his family. I was there with engineering team sit down on the floor and help team to screw the un-finishing stuffs. He saw me right there support team and did our best we could. Upon his check out, he gave me his credit card, he said” Please check my invoice, I trusted you, this is a code.” I was very emotional and I didn’t expect such a thing from him. When someone you don’t know said “I trusted you!!” this is so touch. Good Job & Good heart always pay back.



Sammdech Hun Sen at The Royal Sand Koh Rong

23 April 2017, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen presided over the grand opening ceremony of the Royal Sands Koh Rong Resort, It such a honor that I worked closely with special team of PM, military, police force, marine, air force, medias, it’s a hug task and we achieved all together and this experiences I have no hesitate to say “yes we did it & no hesitate to do it again”.




In 2019, we created a dream wedding of a couple from UK with their 50 guests from different countries, take placed at The Royal Sands Koh Rong Resort, the couple were tearing by our details attention to what they needed. Nothing more than happy to see this crying happiness. Yes we did it again!


Every day is a new day and new thing to learn. Like what you do, love what you got, but to have this peace everyone needs to know well yourself. Within hospitality business if you feel stressful yourself you can’t provide the best services to customers. Communication among team work is very importance.


Cambodia is a country of smiling, this is a great chance to proof a successful in hospitality industry.


 
  • Contact b. consulting Hospitality Food & Beverage - click-here

  • Join Ms Sovathida Oum on Linkedin - click-here

  • More information about The Royal Sands Koh Rong Resort - click-here

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