Daan Duijim is director of operations and set-up for Sun World, a series of leading
amusement parks and entertainment complexes in Vietnam. Here, he tells Park World editor, Becci Knowles how he fell in love with the industry and why he wakes up every day with the goal of delivering magical and memorable guest experiences.
The attractions industry is an incredible place to start a career. 10 years ago, I saw an advertisement to become a personal trainer on a cruise ship. I spent nine months working on Disney Cruise Line’s ship and loved the experience, magic and hard work behind the smiles. I knew this is what I wanted to do and decided to learn how to create a career in theme parks when I was 20 years old.
During the last year of my bachelor degree in Leisure Management, I went from working on my thesis to working in the operations of a regional theme park in Malaysia as operations manager.
When I came back to the Netherlands to defend my graduation thesis, within two
weeks I flew out to Dubai, UAE. From 2014 to 2016 I worked in Wild Wadi Water park
as Management Trainee and Assistant Manager and was able to spend months in
Operations, Admissions, Marketing and even being the project manager of the Halloween Haunted House.
When I had the opportunity in 2016 to go back to Asia to become the water park
manager for Legoland Malaysia Resort, I took it with both hands and got promoted a year later to also run the theme park attractions. In 2018 I was asked to become
the general manager of Indonesia’s largest Indoor theme park in Bandung for Trans Studio. After nine months the owner invited me to a concrete building without
roofs and walls and I oversaw the building of the second largest indoor theme park, in Jakarta. I got to hire and lead a dedicated team to open a park and three world’s first attractions, which has been a highlight of my career so far.
At end of 2019 an industry friend told me about Sun World in Vietnam. Sun World – the entertainment brand of Sun Group – is a series of leading amusement parks and entertainment complexes in Vietnam. There are at the moment five Sunworld park locations with multiple theme parks, water parks and cable cars in Vietnam. Currently I am the director of operations and set-up for Sun World Holding company. Which means I am in charge of improving the existing park operations and opening all new attractions and parks of the group.
Vietnam is an incredible growing market with a young and vibrant market for and interest in entertainment. Local Vietnamese look for beautiful and exciting destinations and have growing expectations of the hospitality industry. We have a rapidly expanding interest from other countries due to Vietnam’s natural beauty and our parks are playing a key role to provide unique experiences for many.
The current time (end March) is a difficult time for anyone and parks across the globe due to Covid-19. Since March 18th some of Sun World parks have temporarily closed to ensure the safety of community, our guests and our staff. We have taken multiple measures, which involved close communication with our staff, following government guidance. We also implemented additional cleaning activities, providing
temperature checks and hand sanitiser throughout our open properties. Multiple parks have implemented flexible working hours depending on the department, working from home, ensuring constant communication, and motivating the staff. We have written and distributed clear SOP’s on safety and measures to reduce the potential spread of the virus that guests and staff can take, and guidelines on closures and reopening of the parks.
At the moment the situation is quite fluid, and we are updating work and operating schedules for the parks which are open and closed parks multiple times per week based on new information. During this time, we are preparing to launch
new products and services to meet anticipated demand when covid-19 is under control. Hotels of Sun Hospitality Group and Sun World parks have also collaborated with Vietnam Airlines to launch new products and combination packages that will be launched to the market as soon as the situation with Covid-
19 is under control.
I have complete faith in the well-organised way that Vietnam and many other Asian countries are dealing with the current situation. It is a difficult time now for everyone; however, as an industry we look towards a bright future with many more attractions when the situation is under control. It will be difficult for some companies in the short term, but well run companies with sufficient cash flow, and attractive parks, which offer value for money, will have a positive outlook in the future. Sun World currently works on multiple expansions and new projects. Some examples include new attractions for Ba Na Hills Park and a new Cable Car in Cat Ba, all opening in 2020.
With almost 10 years working in theme parks in Asia and the world, I can honestly say that I could not have wished for a better industry. People who support each other in difficult situations, parks where we create happiness, and a consistent drive for safer and better experiences for our guests, will lead the way to a great future.