Many tour operators complain of “brand stealing”

Stealing a business name–leading to confusion for customers and affecting the reputation is a big concern of many tourism firms.

Speaking at a seminar on the role of law in protecting Vietnamese tourism brands in HCM City on December 4, Ms. Nguyen Thi Khanh, deputy chair of the HCM City Tourism Association, said that stealing a brand is alarming situation for the tourism industry in Vietnam.

From several hundreds of travel companies in 2004, HCM City currently has tens of thousands of travel firms. Besides the advantage of creating diversity in tourism products, many companies have blatantly stolen the famous brands of other firms, leading to confusion for visitors and causing major damage to the victim businesses.

“We have gotten a lot of complaints of tourists about the poor quality of services offered by travel firms that have similar names as reputable companies,” Ms. Khanh said.

Representatives of many tour operators also expressed their anger about “brand stealing.” Ms. Tran Thi Mong Hong, General Director of the Hanh Trinh Viet Travel Company, said her company’s name was “aped” by at less 10 other firms. Until 2008, when many customers complained about the poor service quality, the company detected the fact.

“We even received debt chasing letters that partners sent to these firms. They just changed some information about the geographical indications or type of business to be granted a license by local agencies. But when we appealed to local Departments of Planning and Investment, they said that they were made under the rules,” Hong said.

A representative of Hoa Binh Tourism Company (based in Ho Chi Minh City) said: “The name of our company is Hoa Binh Vietnam Travel JS Company and they imitated our name by registering the name Hoa Binh HCM City Travel JS Company. They not only used the same name but also used our tour program on their website. They told customers that they were our branch when the customers asked them about the change of address,” she said.

Mr. Nguyen Van My, director of Lua Viet Travel Company, lamented that his company name was also stolen, but he could do nothing. He could not sue the violator because of the inadequacies of the current law. Given this confusion, he said that travelers should carefully explore the origin of the companies they choose to not be fooled.

According to Mr. Vu The Binh, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, tour operators can easily sell tours with a good name, many firms have taken advantage of this characteristic to do unfair business. The Association will propose to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism to take measures to deal with these violations.