Meet The Storytellers Behind ‘Where In Hanoi’ And ‘Where In HCMC’ Instagram Communities | Vietcetera
Billboard banner
Jun 06, 2023

Meet The Storytellers Behind ‘Where In Hanoi’ And ‘Where In HCMC’ Instagram Communities

Expats Cydny Voicechovski and Dana Bradley share insights on their growing community and exciting expansion plans to more cities.
Meet The Storytellers Behind ‘Where In Hanoi’ And ‘Where In HCMC’ Instagram Communities

Where in HCMC's Dana Bradley and Where in Hanoi's Cydny Voicechovski

Whether you’ve lived in Vietnam for years or just arrived, there’s always something new to discover. Forget about the typical popular spots like the highest-rated burger joint or the fastest tailor for traditional Vietnamese clothing. Instead, venture into the vintage stores and explore the street brimming with antique treasures in Ho Chi Minh City. Perhaps, uncover the perfect destination to find fashionable leather shoes for men or experience the cozy charm of a cat cafe in Hanoi. Don't know where to begin? We may have the answer to that.

When Vietnam called Jersey-born Cydny Voicechovski and her husband to relocate, they eagerly accepted, undeterred by the global pandemic. Cydny, a creator wearing many hats, describes herself as “The Visionary.” With a focus on marketing and business development, she is also a dance teacher and content creator with a mission “to bring comfort and guidance to an uprooting lifestyle.”

Despite initial dreams of becoming an artist, Cydny pursued her passion for dance. She achieved remarkable success, building a thriving company during a recession. Without a business degree or mentor, she had a clear vision and unwavering faith that she could make it work. And she did, managed to transform the company into a seven-figure business.

Like most expats in Vietnam, Cydny does more than live, she also thrives. What started as a fun way of sharing her new life in Vietnam’s capital as well as building a resource for any visiting family and friends could easily use, Where in Hanoi came to life.

Jersey-born Cydny Voicechovski founded the Where in Hanoi Instagram account. | Source: Cydny Voicechovski

“To my surprise, others were appreciating my recommendations too. I was growing a following quicker than expected and started receiving messages saying how helpful the page was.”

But unlike most “influential accounts” where the content was about the traveler and their experiences, “I remove myself in every content I share and make this about nothing more than the city and the people in it,” she said. “Make it purely community-driven, selfless, but still with personality, and I believe that is what made us a trusted source.”

Despite their busy schedules, in time for the release of the winners of the People’s Picks Awards for both Hanoi and HCMC, Cydny Voicechovski and Dana Bradley took the time to answer our questions about their growing community. On top of managing the Where in Hanoi account, Cydny is also the founder of Where International, a marketing consultancy company.

Dana runs the Where in HCMC and is the CEO of Where in Vietnam. After working at a Strategic Branding agency in the UK for nearly a decade, she traveled for six months to recharge. Little did she know that the pandemic would disrupt her plans while she was in Hanoi. Despite the challenges, Dana discovered Where in Hanoi and connected with Cydny, leading her to launch Where in HCMC when her partner found a job in Saigon. This unexpected path allowed her to apply her brand strategy, photography, copywriting, relationship management, and design skills to the platform, creating a rewarding experience.

How has living in Vietnam changed your perspective on life?

Cydny: We are blessed to have experienced life in Vietnam during “challenging times.” We moved here in July 2019. We had six months of normalcy before the pandemic broke out. We were still in the stage of adjustment before the entire world shifted. We watched panic strike, many left, but we stayed. We rode out two years in Vietnam before having an opportunity to return home. During this time, we got to witness the community come together and see the real spirit of the country, the highs and lows, and in between. It reminded me that community is always where the power of growth lives.

Cydny Voicechovski

What advice would you give to other expats considering moving to Vietnam?

Cydny: Throw all expectations out the window. You won’t understand her until you experience her. You just can’t put into words the energy that lives in Vietnam, but it's an infectious one.

How did the project evolve to include “Where in HCMC”?

Cydny: All my connections in Vietnam have been made through this account. I can attest that it is the source that has helped me call this country home and brought me to Dana - Where In HCMC. It all started in the DM’s!

This is the power of social media. We get caught up in likes and follows, but the real magic is in the comments and DM’s. At the time, Dana was in Hanoi temporarily and reached out to ask if I needed any help. We hit it off immediately. She is a creator. She has an extensive marketing background, but most importantly, she saw the bigger picture, and I wanted to harness that. So when her sabbatical turned into “my husband got a job in HCMC,” the immediate light bulb clicked… Do we try to expand South?.... Yes, of course!

Tell us about your audience.

Cydny: Our audience is a fantastic blend of humans. It’s an international community. What began in the expat community has since expanded to Vietnamese (English speaking), Viet Kieus, and recently tourists. Typically 25-45yr old professionals who have a love for exploration and travel. This is why you can see such varying topics on our pages because we believe that to truly experience a culture, one must dive into all aspects.

I’m a gal who will take a motorbike trip to Sóc Sơn during the day, strap on heels and sip on a cocktail at a 5-star hotel in the evening, and then sit outside and order late-night Xôi before heading to bed. You don’t have to put yourself in a box and identify as only a high-end traveler or a backpacker; you can enjoy it all, and we believe you should.

Dana Bradley

How do you go about creating content for the accounts? The creative process or approach you follow.

Dana: Our content strategy is inspired by our own lives. If we’re curious about something, odds are someone else is also curious about the same thing. And, at the end of the day, it’s about storytelling. It’s not about us having the authority over anyone else, excluding anyone, or having the highest quality visuals - we want to inspire and reflect the richness in the community that you might not know about in the most authentic way possible.

Cydny: Couldn’t say that better myself. I will say I’m the strategic one in the group and often teach workshops on the process of planning in advance. We have quarterly goals and visions that guide our content, but we always leave room for creative expression.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in the cities you cover?

Dana: It’s tough. In an ever-changing environment like social media, you can chase the trends, but you’ll tire yourself out quickly. The most helpful tool we use is our DMs - when people message us with questions or recommendations - that’s gold! That’s what people want to see - not just some buzz-worthy song. Collective recommendations are also so important. We will never claim to be experts about Vietnam, but there’s power in crowdsourcing. We just want to be that trustworthy medium that links everyone together. We’ll go out and check out the place for you and tell you if it’s worth your time.

What challenges have you encountered while managing and growing the online community?

Dana: Having ambitious plans but a small team. We’ve been dreaming up many things for the future, and we need the team, time, and resources to execute it to the standard we want.

Cydny: Yes, exactly. We function as a full-time business, yet we are only available for part-time hours. Time is currently our biggest battle. Also, we’re aware the stories we share are based on what we can access. We’re absolutely looking to tell more Vietnamese stories - we love this beautiful country. There are so many people who don’t know about Vietnam - the world’s narrative about Vietnam can be so limited - so continuing to share more points of view is important to us.

Dana Bradley and Cydny Voicechovski

How do you measure success for “Where in Hanoi” and “Where in HCMC”? Are there specific metrics or goals you're aiming for?

Dana: Easy - when someone comes to us and tells us how valuable our Instagram has been to them. That they learned something or discovered a new place because of us, there’s genuine relief in their voices when they tell us this. Making people feel less alone and more inspired is a metric we use to measure success. The genuine impact we have. For us, the goal is to instantly associate “where to go” with Where In around the world.

Cydny: As a KOL, we are supposed to strive for numbers; although we track them, they won’t ever be our driving force. As a content creator, it is a slippery slope that you can drown yourself in. The most significant measure of success is hearing from the people directly, whether that is someone new in town who loved our suggestion or a small business saying they received a lot of new visitors thanks to our share. Our goals are always to find better ways to connect us, and that comes with expanding the brand further than Instagram, which we already have begun with in-person events and providing guides on our Ko-Fi account.

How has the online community impacted people's lives in Hanoi and HCMC?

Dana: On a community level, people feel less alone and less intimidated. People feel like there’s someone like them out there curating a worthwhile experience for them. From our Vietnam Starter Pack, which supports people who are about to move here or just moved here, to our Vietnam Visitor Guide.

Cydny: Small businesses are the heart of Vietnam, and marketing is often the one thing overlooked as owners are too busy managing their day-to-day. Knowing that our voice and our connections are a way to provide awareness in return plays a huge role in community impact as a whole. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village.’

What role do your IG accounts play in the broader tourism industry in Vietnam?

Dana: Tourism isn’t what drives us because we started the business during COVID-19 when there were no tourists. Now that the borders are open, we are still focused on our core audience: expats, nomads, and locals. People who want a more authentic experience in Vietnam will naturally like all our content.

Cydny: Travel is something our community enjoys; we will always touch upon these subjects, but from the perspective of someone who already understands Vietnam (but even for us, we’re expats, so our understanding of Vietnam is constantly evolving.)

The travel expectations and experiences wanted are usually far different than those just passing by. We will try to assist from these angles. For example, we created a ‘Visitor Pack’ that new visitors can download or those living here can purchase to provide for their guests.

This resource prepares first-time travelers with all the information for their short stay.

What is the most rewarding part of working with your community?

Dana: Being part of a community is the most rewarding part. We crave that connection and feelings of a greater purpose. To be service to others.

Cydny: The connections. I have met so many beautiful and inspiring people through this account. As a foreigner in Vietnam, it’s hard to describe how special every bit of engagement I received. We are grateful to be here and to be welcomed.

Finally. What's next for you and the Instagram community?

Cydny: We’re expanding to new cities! Where International is a lifestyle hub for global citizens. Whether you consider yourself an expat, digital nomad, student abroad, or simply someone with a worldly perspective -You're an international. We started in Vietnam and are slowly expanding on being that community connection wherever you go because we know that Internationals will never be in one place for too long. Our mission is to bring comfort and guidance to an uprooting lifestyle.