When Karryn was seven years old, her parents took her out of school for six months to travel the world. She was hooked. She wanted to travel and live overseas. In 2001, after earning a degree in Business with a joint major in Marketing and Communications, she left New Zealand and headed to South Korea. Since then Karryn has lived and worked as a freelance writer in Japan, Vietnam, the United States and India. During her time overseas Karryn has written for various publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure, CNNGo and The Japan Times, as well as the inflight magazines of major airlines.
Raised in the Kingdom of Fife, a few lusty tee shots from St. Andrews, it was almost a given that golf that would be part of Duncan Forgan’s make-up. Swayed from early dreams of playing glory by innumerable duffed chips into the Swilken Burn, Duncan has endeavoured to channel his passion for the Royal and Ancient game – and travel in general – in a more productive way: writing. As a result of frigid winters in his homeland, Duncan has worked his way as close to the equator as possible. Now based in Bangkok, he covers golf, culture, food and other stories around Asia. Duncan has worked for TIME, Golf World, Esquire, BBC, The Guardian, Penthouse, Travel and Leisure and many others.
Jade worked as a journalist and PR practitioner for a decade in her native Australia before relocating to Vietnam in 2010. After graduating from Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, she cut her teeth reporting at various regional daily newspapers. She clinched a coveted job writing major breaking news and features stories for Australian Associated Press, and became the news agency’s national tourism reporter. Her writing has featured in a host of publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Age, The Daily Telegraph and The Canberra Times.
Growing up, Jessica wasn’t really sure where to call "home". Born in Hong Kong to Chinese-German parents, her expat family relocated every few years – first to Taipei, then to Tokyo, and finally back to Hong Kong. She soon realized that traveling was in her blood and that she wanted to become a writer. After graduating from City University in the U.K. with an MA in International Journalism, Jessica began her career as a reporter in the London bureau of Newsweek magazine. There she cut her teeth writing geo-political features and helping the Baghdad-based chief foreign correspondent with key research. In 2008, she moved from rainy London to sunny Abu Dhabi to work for The National newspaper.
Originally from Glasgow in Scotland, Colin headed out hitch-hiking into the world as a teenager and never looked back. He worked as a tour guide in London and Paris; then laboured as a dishwasher in an Athens restaurant; sold doughnuts on a nudist beach in the south of France; became a real estate salesman in Spain; was somehow seconded to work for the British foreign office in Bosnia; then taught English in Mexico, Nicaragua and Colombia. After bouncing around Europe and South America for two decades, he discovered the charm of the East and finally settled down in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in 2001. He fell into his dream job, writing guidebooks for publishers such as Frommers and Fodors for several years until the Internet put paid to print.
Joining Balcony in early 2008, Trang very quickly assumed command of the PR operation’s internal mechanics, managing all administrative work from the representative office in Hue. Fluent in English, she serves as the principal administrative link between all of Balcony’s offices and is the go-to person on a wide variety of critical operations from database development to portfolio production. After graduating from the Hue College of Foreign Languages, Trang embarked on a 10-year run with NGOs in the Center and South of Vietnam. But Hue was always home, and now, so is Balcony.
After years at work in reservations and sales at 5-star hotel properties, Hang shifted gears in 2012 and started work as Balcony’s social media manager. For a number of properties, including Emeraude Classic Cruises on Halong Bay and Villa Maly in Luang Prabang, Hang maintains the social media conversation these properties are having with the wider world. She’s also the lead communicator for La Residence Hotel & Spa (Conde Nast Traveler Hot List 2007) in Hue. In fact, Hang got her start in hotels at La Residence when the property opened in 2005.
Tuấn Anh is an entrepreneur at heart, and only became aware of this passion when he moved to Hanoi from Hue as a student. In his second year at the National Economics University, majoring in International Economics, he founded his first venture. He launched two more in short order, and graduated from school into work at a hi-tech corporation where he created new initiatives for internal communication. He won acclaim as that organization’s Favorite Employee, and Employee Most Likely to Succeed.
After spending four years studying business administration at the Vietnam Aviation Academy in Ho Chi Minh City, Cát Ngọc decided to come back to Hue. Why? Because she loves her hometown. She’s also quite keen on PR and MEDIA, and how this field is changing with social media. Ngọc volunteers as a tour guide and a translator at the Spiral Foundation’s Healing The Wounded Heart Center.
After graduating from Danang University of Foreign Languages, Ý Nhi returned to Hue and launched her career in hospitality at a five-star hotel in her hometown. She joined Balcony Media Group in 2017 as a PR Assistant, and now manages the steady stream of news issuing from the agency’s client base. Nhi now lives in the best of both worlds, traveling and working in an industry which has taken her soul to the most stunning destinations in the world along with the most fabulous hotels and resorts.
Balcony works with media in four major English-language media markets: North America, Australia/New Zealand, United Kingdom and Southeast Asia & Hong Kong. We work with Vietnamese media in Vietnamese, and in 2012, we started reaching out to Chinese-language media in China. We focus on media across a spectrum of genres, including travel, lifestyle, golf, spa, food, seniors, in-flight and trade.
From Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, from the New York Times, Toronto Star and Washington Post, Balcony is a source of ready information about hotels, resorts and golf courses throughout Southeast Asia.
Australia / New Zealand
From the Sun-Herald to the Herald Sun, from the Australian to the Sydney Morning Herald, you name the newspaper, and Balcony is reaching in their direction. We call on the magazines, from Marie Claire and all the women’s magazines, to the in-flights for Qantas and Jetstar, to the golf publications from Australian Golf Digest to Golf Vacations.
In the UK, we’re channelling media to top papers like The Sunday Times, to the top magazines like Conde Nast Traveller, and to the BBC, of course. Our media contacts cut across a range of publications markets from travel, lifestyle, culinary, golf, senior, spa and in-flights.
Southeast Asia & Hong Kong
Southeast Asia cultivates a thriving English-language media market from Jakarta to Bangkok and Hong Kong, where titles such as Destinasian,Travel + Leisure SEA, Tatler, Prestige and Elite Traveler Asia set the stage for luxe living.
In 1992, Jim Sullivan bicycled from Saigon to Hanoi on assignment for Bicycling. At that time, most foreigners in Vietnam were still thought to be lien xo, or Russians.
Photo by David Oliver Relin
After publication of his acclaimed memoir, Over the Moat, Jim Sullivan traveled to Vietnam in early 2005 on assignment for the New York Times and National Geographic Traveler, reporting on the country’s emergence as one of the world’s hottest travel destinations. That two-month tour of the country led to a further assignment from National Geographic for a travel book, National Geographic Traveler: Vietnam.
Jim quit his job as editor-in-chief of a business newspaper in the United States, sold his family’s Subaru Forrester, rented their home in Maine and relocated to Vietnam with his wife and their two children. After the National Geographic book was done, he shifted gears and launched the business with the Apple Tree Group, Caravelle Hotel, Life Resorts and a cluster of hotels and golf courses owned by a U.S. company, Danao, that later sold its properties.
“Vietnam was ripe for the kind of business we were getting into in 2006,” says Jim. “It was no longer Good Morning, Vietnam, though that’s what all the newspaper headlines kept shouting. It was brunch at least, but Vietnam couldn’t shake its reputation as a destination for backpackers. We wanted to change that.”
Jim recruited a half-dozen golf courses for a marketing effort that came to be known as the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, and a media sensation was born. Media outlets from the world’s largest golf publication, GOLF, and the top newspaper in the U.S., the New York Times, covered the emergence of the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, and the business had found its new calling card.
In 2007, Scott Resch relocated from Park City, Utah to Saigon where he would serve as the company’s Bureau Chief. He’d come to Vietnam on a press trip the previous year, and he was blown away by the possibilities. “It was a country on the make, and Balcony was a business on the make. It was easy to see the future,” says Scott.
Meanwhile, the business was growing. With a representative office license in Hue, the company found its geographic heart and a crew of some of Vietnam’s most impassioned PR professionals.
“People often wonder how we do PR out of Hue? Why not Ho Chi MInh City? Or Hanoi?” says Jim. “But Hue, in this age of technology, is as accessible as either of Vietnam’s major cities. It’s as easy for our people to get to either city, and like someone once said to me about the former imperial capital of Vietnam: ‘Everyone agrees about Hue.’”
Vietnam couldn’t contain the company’s ambitions for long. Its brand of media outreach sent tentacles into Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, and with GHM In 2011, beyond to Indonesia, Myanmar and Muscat. In 2012, the company is on the verge of its most expansive growth yet, with new offices opening in Mumbai, Singapore and Guangzhou.
“The sun never sets on our Balcony,” says Jim. “And there’s always another horizon to steer for.”
You keep telling us you’re different. Doesn’t everyone say that?
They do, but look at our backgrounds. All of Balcony’s managers and specialists are seasoned journalists at prominent publications. That’s how we’re different.
Why does that matter?
It matters because we know what the media want because we’ve worked as media. We know what the media will pay attention to, and what they’ll trash. Not everything that a hotel or golf course GM thinks is important is going to matter to the media. We, at Balcony, provide that first, critical filter on anything that goes out about a property.
Doesn’t the hotel’s marketing agenda drive the messaging?
Of course, it does. But you have to deploy marketing messages with strategic discretion. The marketing messages that work in advertisements can fall dead on a journalist’s desk unless you have repositioned that message with an eye toward what it is the journalist needs to get his job done.
What do you mean?
I mean, it’s more important to give the media what they need than it is for you to tell them what you want. That is, if you want editorial exposure in their pages, on their site or in front of their cameras.
What hotel or resort among all those you represent is your favorite?