Breaking Travel News

Breaking Travel News interview: Trần Trọng Kiên, chief executive officer, Buffalo Tours

As a leading travel company in Asia, Buffalo Tours offers the best in customised small group and private guided tours to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and a host of other south-east Asian destinations.

Having just been nominated for the title of Asia’s Leading Tour Operator at the World Travel Awards, chief executive Trần Trọng Kiên here sits down with Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole to discuss how the company grew from a single office in Vietnam to become the dominant player in this fast growing region.

Breaking Travel News: Thanks for taking the time out to speak to Breaking Travel News today. Perhaps we could begin with a quick look at what Buffalo Tours gets up to? Could you tell us a little about the brand?

Trần Trọng Kiên: Buffalo Tours was established in 1994.

At that time, I was a medical student and needed money to fund my studies, so I started leading tours for French tourists as a summer job.

I found it enjoyable, and decided to set up a small office to run the business more efficiently, as well as to create jobs for my fellow medical students.

We were all young and enthusiastic to bring our love and pride for Vietnam to our tours, on which we have always emphasised authenticity and giving our customers a full experience of the destination.

These days, after two decades of operating, Buffalo has become one of the leading destination management companies in south-east Asia, with ten offices in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In addition, four sales offices in Australia, the UK, the United States and Japan also play an important role in Buffalo’s development.

Our staff of more than 3,000 people annually serves 400,000 passengers in English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese languages.

Buffalo Tours has been recognised with several reputable awards over the years, yet we are always striving for more, and we are always working to strike through our present limits to offer our clients a wider and fuller range of products.

BTN: Which are the key source markets for Buffalo Tours? From where do you welcome people destinations such as Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia?

TTK: Our key source markets include Australia, United Kingdom and the United States; Northern European countries such as France, Germany and Switzerland; and Asia.

Our clients visit destinations such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and more.

BTN: Does Buffalo Tours have an expansion plans or key events on the horizon for 2015 you are keen to share with our audience here at Breaking Travel News?

TTK: In 2015, we have been working to expand our business to six more countries: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Japan.

Looking forward to 2016, we plan to focus on the Philippines, South Korea, Borneo, and other Pacific countries.

BTN: Asia is a booming tourism market, the fastest growing in the world. What separates you from the many other organisations offering travel experiences in the region?

TTK: Firstly, we are the only organisation that does not act as a middle-man, which differentiates us from the other destination management companies in the market.

Buffalo Tours owns or is closely associated with our properties, including a comprehensive package that ranges from hotels, hotel management companies, and resorts, cruises, express trains, restaurants, seaplanes and other local transportation vehicles.

This model applies across all the regions in which Buffalo Tours operates.

Secondly, Buffalo Tours products’ research and development differentiates us from other companies.

In each destination, we have tailor-made each product, ensuring that it is unique.

It is this product development that makes Buffalo Tours competitive in the booming tourism market.

Thirdly, thanks to our background and development in Asia, we have very good and close relationships with partners, suppliers and hotels in the region.

More than 20 years of relationship management in Asia’s destination management industry enables us to provide our clients with the best services at competitive prices. 

Fourthly, all of our processes and systems are built within Buffalo Tours’ own online group, therefore, data transactions are processed smoothly to direct service providers such as tour guides, airport representatives, etc.

This technological system that we operate allows us to grow significantly compared with others in the market. 

Last but not least is Buffalo Tours’ culture of IDARE - Inspirational, Dynamic, Adventurous, Responsible and Excellent.

We are young, dynamic and creative, and are always open to taking risks.

BTN: Buffalo Tours has been nominated as Asia’s Leading Tour Operator by the World Travel Awards. What do you think caught the eye of that prestigious organisation and how does it feel to be recognised in this way?

TTK: With more than 20 years of experience in the tourism industry, we believe that our expertise and deep knowledge of the industry have given us the opportunity to receive this nomination.

From just a small company in Vietnam, we strongly grew into a group operating not only in the Asia but on a global scale, as well, with an increasingly tremendous number of clients and a rapid expansion in the past few years.

Buffalo Tours consistently scores high rankings on tours across Asia, and we are excited to continue that trend as we grow and expand.

We are honoured to be recognised by the World Travel Awards.