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In an unprecedented opportunity that knocked unexpectedly, the Vatel masters students went for a full-week study tour in Vientiane, Laos, from 24 to 31 January 2016. The purpose of the study tour was to do an operational audit on as well as formulate a sales and marketing strategy for a Vientiane-based multi-million-dollar property developer whose huge project will give rise to an international resort-casino and three Starwood hotel brands, along with residential apartments, shop houses, and retail outlets.

All expenses, including aifare, accommodations, local transportation, and most of the food were sponsored by the CEO-President of the Universal Pacific Limited (UPL), Mr. Damien Lim, a Singapore-born Malaysian citizen who has been living in Laos for 20 years. Mr Lim successfully operates various businesses that spans media, travel and tourism, mining, and property development. With the huge project which is an economic zone known as 313 Vientiane Nelamit, Mr Lim wanted to find out what other people say about his project. And that was what our Vatel masters students did.

Mr Lim commended the team that consisted of the Vatel masters students and headed by Mr Fred Utanes, the programme head of the Vatel programme. He said that the presentation of the audit was excellent. He of course generously gave his enlightening comments which to the students added to their already enriched knowledge about the Lao culture and community.

The team also visited various tourist destinations in Vientiane as well as took a short trip to the neighbouring Thai cities of Udonthani and Non Khai just across the Thai-Lao Friendship bridge. Those visits gave the students the chance to interact with the locals and the time to learn the traditions and customs that the Lao people practiced. These provided them the better understanding of the environment, as such, their research outcomes were well substantiated.

UPL’s generosity paved the way for the Vatel master students to develop a deep appreciation of the Lao people and the environments they live in. The conversations and audit interviews with the top management and the staff were encounters that provided a bigger perspective of the life in Laos.

At the end of the week-long research and tour, the students felt that the warm hospitality afforded to them by the UPL management and staff went beyond expectations. And it is certain that although the tour only took 7 days, those days are very much cherished in their memories.


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