Chinese travelers are well known for having the money, but not the manners. What about Vietnamese travelers? As Vietnam globalizes, more Vietnamese have the disposable income to travel. But are their manners and awareness keeping up?
That’s when we decided to meet with Yenly Tran, founder and director of Etik Academy. Etik is an academy based in Hanoi and soon to arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. What started as a simple test with a hundred dollars of Facebook advertising, Etik Academy now operates in Hanoi with a client roster ranging from political leaders, business people, to college students who are hoping to improve their understanding of international standards for etiquette.
We speak with Yenly to get some insight into how she kickstarted her company with just a set of Facebook ads and how she plans to grow it.
How did Etik Academy start?
When I first came back to Vietnam, I worked at an education start-up and saw kids were exceeding academically but not socially. There was a huge disparity between the wealth and social conduct of the Vietnamese nouveau-riche. Even many businessmen and women were struggling to understand basic Western etiquette during their meetings with international counterparts.
Having spent over 23 years abroad and grown up in 3 continents, I understood the importance of social manners in a modern intercultural world today, whether it is in business or social environment, so I went back to London to acquire my Etiquette training degree and opened the first Finishing school in Vietnam.
At first, I experimented with Facebook ads to find our market fit. I soon found our first clients quickly and affordably with Facebook audience targeting. I learned that many of our client’s have never studied or lived abroad. They are successful businessmen and women with little time to immerse themselves in the international scene, which is why, Etik strives to provide a comprehensive course for busy Vietnamese clients.
Why are you so interested in etiquette? What is etiquette exactly?
Etiquette is incredibly important because the social conduct defines a nation as a whole. Each country has its own stereotypes based on certain truth: the Japaneses are polite, the Americans are vocal and the French are gourmands. I wanted the Vietnamese to have a positive global image, starting from our leaders all the way to our younger generations.
The more I travel, the more I realized that brains, beauty, and pedigree are not enough to be a true international contender; everything boils down to people skills. The core of etiquette is about politeness and respect, and those are the foundation to everyday relationship.
Etiquette is often confused as life or love coaching here in Vietnam. I do neither. In fact, etiquette is rules of conduct dated back to the French aristocracy. Originally, etiquette was taught in Finishing school for young ladies and young men to join the Royal family. Today, etiquette as a subject is mandatory among politicians, business leaders and Royal family. In Vietnam, Etik Academy has tailored the curriculum to meet modern needs of our clientele.
Why are you back in Vietnam?
As a fast-growing nation, this is a very exciting time to be in Vietnam. Business opportunities are abundant and consumers are always open to new ideas. I wanted to give back to our community by preparing students, leaders and professionals for the global market. Also, I really missed the food.
Why expand the business to Ho Chi Minh City?
Why not? Saigon is the heart of economy of Vietnam and Saigonese are also known to be more “westernized” than Hanoians so I’m excited to see what new challenges Saigon may bring.
Who should we speak with next?
Tu Ngo from Yola, an education company, or Duong Do of Toong, a coworking space startup that is launching offices throughout Vietnam.