Time for a tune up

The city’s private and public stakeholders are readying for a resurgence in business events

HKTB and hotels have come together to stimulate small event demand with promotional offers. Photo by Hong Kong Tourism Board

Predictions of intense post-pandemic competition across the region has prompted the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) to set aside a war chest worth an estimated HK$88 million (US$11.4 million) to promote business events in the 2020/2021 financial year, according to a HKTB spokesperson.

To ensure the destination stays top of mind, HKTB is tapping onto the local business events community’s network to bring together leaders from universities, chambers of commerce as well as professional and trade associations in the city to serve as ambassadors under the new HK MICE Champion Club.

HKTB and hotels have come together to stimulate small event demand with promotional offers. Photo by Hong Kong Tourism Board

Additionally, the tourism authority plans to persuade overseas organisations in its own international network to consider Hong Kong for future conventions.

Investment in protecting Hong Kong’s exhibitions industry is also made, with HKTB partnering the Hong Kong Exhibition & Convention Industry Association (HKECIA) to host an international conference for key global exhibition players this December.

Furthermore, it will scale up event collaboration with UFI to drive home the branding of Hong Kong as the trade fair capital of Asia. Rounding up its efforts to lure new exhibitions for 1Q2021, HKTB has plans to send business missions to the Greater Bay Area.

Thought has also been given to easing the financial burden of inbound event players when they attend tradeshows abroad to market their services. Relief measures, including as a full waiver of participation fees as well as flight and hotel subsidies, have been introduced.

But with the state of recovery different across markets, HKTB has adopted a flexible approach in planning its recovery measures. It is now tracking various source markets, monitoring their number of confirmed cases, air capacity recovery, as well as lockdown and border control measures.

A stream of support
HKTB’s MeetON@HongKong campaign that targets event organisers, planners, trade associations and corporations within the city state as well as across the globe has earned the backing of some 80 hotels.

These properties are offering complimentary meeting and dining packages to small event groups as part of the campaign. By reserving a minimum of 10 guestrooms for two or more nights back-to-back, groups stand to enjoy either a complimentary meeting or dining package.

Additionally, groups with at least 10 delegates can enjoy offers at key city attractions.
Hoteliers looking to score speedier business recovery can tap on HKTB’s Special Funding Support for Small-sized Corporate Meeting and Convention Groups for Hotels. Set to be launched when source markets are ready to travel to Hong Kong, the scheme will be open to more than 300 licensed hotels, which will benefit from financial assistance for their promotional packages.

Meanwhile, HKTB’s Bidding Fund will continue to serve as a channel of financial assistance for events facing cancellation or having its host city changed. The fund will also support local industry players looking to bid for events happening in the future.

Flights-wise, flag carrier Cathay Pacific is planning a series of perks and promotions for passengers travelling for business events, including a free flight for every 16th passenger in a party of 20 or more, and an additional 10kg luggage allowance. A check-in counter will also be set aside at Hong Kong International Airport for event groups.

Changing face of incentives
As HKTB expects future incentive programmes to involve shorter trips, with groups leaning towards activities with a corporate social responsibility (CSR) or wellness focus, it has developed several relevant activities to appeal to planners. They include cultural and eco-tours around Tai O fishing village, having dim sum in the dark, and a CSR workshop on sustainable development.

Itineraries demanding a wellness slant can choose from guided forest bathing tours, tea pairing sessions, and yoga classes set against the backdrop of Victoria Harbour.
Groups seeking a full-day programme can opt for the Around-the-Clock Party itinerary, to enjoy Hong Kong from dusk to dawn. The itinerary features a party atop a vintage, open-top tram, and bar hopping.

Concurrently, tour operators are gearing up for recovery with activities and tours tailored to meet social distancing requirements and safety measures.

For instance, 360 Holidays – the tour operator arm of Lantau Island attraction operator Ngong Ping 360 – is looking to promote nature and wellness elements in its tours. Guests will be able to take in views of the scenic Ngong Ping area aboard the Ngong Ping cable car, as well as make a stop at the heritage-rich Tai O, on the western side of Lantau Island.

Meanwhile, Lamma Rainbow Tour Services is offering a Rainbow Lamma Tour, tailored for groups of 20 or more. A highlight is the walking tour around Lamma Island, which is the birthplace of popular actor Chow Yun Fat. The tour includes a visit to a local family that will teach delegates how to make traditional Hakka herbal tea pudding; a meal at renowned Rainbow Seafood Restaurant; and a trip aboard the Rainbow Star Cruise back to Victoria Harbour. Onboard the cruise, delegates will get to enjoy the A Symphony of Lights show, set against the Hong Kong skyline.

Making it safe for customers
Other tourism suppliers in the destination are using the downtime to enhance their health and sanitation procedures to ensure customers can return with confidence.

AsiaWorld-Expo, for instance, brought in CLeanTech disinfection installations – devices that use a natural botanical disinfection solution, as well as air sanitising and purifying technology. It also ushered in Intelligent Sterilisation Robots (ISRs). Featuring ultraviolet light sterilisers, 360-degree disinfecting air spray and air filtration, the robots will be deployed throughout the venue. The ISRs were previously used to disinfect the enclosed temporary Covid-19 test centre within the Expo.

Meanwhile, transportation provider Kwoon Chung Bus Holdings is also taking the heightened concerns surrounding sanitation seriously. Recently, a sanitation product called Germagic was applied by qualified technicians at Kwoon Chung’s depots across the New Territories and Lantau Island.

Currently, the enhanced cleaning services are being carried out on vehicles across its fleet that ply the border between mainland China and Hong Kong.

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