Small, local in-person business events are returning in Hong Kong, with confidence fuelled by national vaccination progress, improving Covid-19 containment and relaxed social distancing measures, discovers Prudence Lui.
Hong Kong’s rising national vaccination rate, improving Covid-19 conditions and relaxed social distancing policy have facilitated a revival of small, local in-person events.
As of late-August, Hong Kong has allowed attendance at in-person events to be 50 per cent of a venue’s normal capacity, provided people keep their masks on and no F&B service is offered. Even more encouraging, full venue capacity usage is possible if two-thirds of participants have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Marcel Holman, managing director of The Langham, Hong Kong, welcomed increasing demand for a range of private events, such as annual general meetings, hybrid webinars by pharmaceutical firms, insurance seminars, education fairs and recruitment drives.
“With our upgraded IT infrastructure, we have successfully helped our clients arrange multiple concurrent virtual interviews with overseas personnel, as well as virtual conferences with our hybrid meeting facilities,” Holman said.
Furthermore, hotel staff have been vaccinated, allowing The Langham, Hong Kong to scale up operations, such as extending catering hours to mid-night. Come October 2021, the hotel will be ready to welcome banquets for up to 180 guests.
Event enquiries for 2022 have also streamed in from overseas clients, giving Holman some confidence of recovery from 2Q2022.
Cordis, Hong Kong’s fully vaccinated service team has also helped to revive the hotel’s event business, with education fairs, IT conferences, property investment and emigration seminars now back with 100 to 120 attendees. Hybrid medical meetings with F&B service are also returning, with 30 to 50 people in attendance.
Director of sales and marketing Kitty Tang expects medical and overseas education business segments to continue to contribute most of the in-person events at the hotel, while further growth could come from finance, insurance, health care and beauty companies that begin to resume their planning activities.
With rising vaccination rates, Tang sees larger events are on the horizon.
To stay ahead of the competition as local events reactivate, JW Marriott Hong Kong rolled out an Extended Reality offering, allowing virtual and face-to-face meetings and events to take place simultaneously on-site. The capability is said to be the first-of-its-kind meeting solution among Hong Kong hotels.
A JW Marriott Hong Kong spokesman told TTGmice that organisers host physical events to achieve better engagement with their participants, and so hotels have to be flexible with event set-ups, catering needs, and use of space.
The return of small, local in-person events has not escaped the attention of unique venues. Giacomo Italian restaurant at Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay has set its eyes on private corporate gatherings. Since its opening in August, the restaurant has hosted several small-scale corporate events – mostly by luxury brands – for an average of eight people per group.
Giacomo expects the year-end festive seasons and celebrations to ring in even more intimate corporate gatherings, as companies reward clients and reconnect with associates.
Unfortunately, not all unique venues in Hong Kong have been able to benefit from the resumption of private events. Sky 100 Hong Kong Observation Deck, for instance, is bound to stringent social distancing rules that apply to public areas and public entertainment licensed venues. One of the restrictions is on F&B catering – events at Sky 100 Hong Kong Observation Deck are not allowed to offer any refreshments.
A Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck spokesperson told TTGmice that while there have been many event enquiries, social distancing restrictions have led many potential clients to turn to other venues.
The spokesperson hopes that the venue’s flexibility and commitment to bringing clients’ events to fruition, even in the event of sudden tightening of Covid-19 regulations, will win clients over.
“We are flexible which can help us to manage the expectation of our clients. Should regulations tighten overnight, for example, we can extend venue usage so that the organiser can split the event into several sessions to meet government requirements,” said the spokesperson.