1 April 2002
Hotel Services Supply Visitors With Stitches, Fish Food & More(HKTDC Hong Kong Trade Services, Vol 01,2002)
Vol 1, 2002
HOTELS, EXHIBITIONS & BUSINESS CENTRES
By James Lu
Hong Kong Hotels Assn
SME representatives can conduct business in Hong Kong hotels, just as in a company office. Shown is the Eaton Hotel's business centre in the heart of Kowloon.
IN Hong Kong, the hotel industry has a long history of providing top-calibre facilities and services to visitors and local residents alike. The city has more than 35,000 rooms available in some 90 hotels. A third of those hotels are in the luxury category. Some are often listed among the world's best.
Yet more than half of Hong Kong's hotels remain in the relatively affordable budget category. While locations and facilities do vary, all have professional management providing high levels of service.
The facilities are well maintained and often upgraded to keep pace with rising standards and new technology. In recent years, the room count has increased about 6% annually, despite a tourism downturn after the Asian economic crisis of 1997 and more recent recessions overseas.
Based on regional developments, the outlook is bright. The Chinese mainland's entry to the World Trade Organization and its growth as a leader in tourism, sports, trade and investment reinforce regional stability and the appeal of associated business destinations, like Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese mainland have all invested in tourism infrastructure, and the region promises to remain heavily visited for both business and leisure purposes.
Facilities at Hong Kong hotels come in all shapes and sizes. In this room at BP Int'l House the attractions include fresh fruit, flowers and a striking view of the city's famous skyline.
One guest became furious at finding no sewing kit in his room and complained harshly to an assistant manager. Momentarily, a lady knocked at his door and politely asked, "What can I sew for you?" The hotel had upgraded the service of providing needles and threads into a personalized one of doing the sewing.
At another hotel, each room has a goldfish in a bowl and fish food. Travellers often miss the companionship of family members and their own pets. The goldfish become pets away from home, ready listeners and instant companions.
Different guests have different expectations. The main task for hoteliers is to fulfil specific requirements in ways that make the guests feel respected and satisfied.
One guest read about a particular book containing pictures of ceremonies staged in 1997 to mark Hong Kong's return to Chinese mainland sovereignty. He wanted to buy a copy. The concierge at his hotel purchased one and delivered it to his room at no cost beyond what the bookstore charged.
Another hotel arranged a satellite-video conference call for a business executive unable to arrive in Hong Kong due to terrorism-related US airport closures, but who did not wish to disappoint his Asian customers. The hotel did not rent a room, yet provided this valued service.
An endless quest for excellence moves Hong Kong's hotel industry forward. We reflect change more sensitively than other industries because we deal with the very essence of change each day. We strive to remain proactive most of the time.
Our understanding of diverse cultural behaviours and Hong Kong's ability to provide service staff of different backgrounds and capabilities make our industry a multi-society in itself. Lots of hard work and seamless co-ordination of procedures occur behind the scenes. Each smiling face reflects a deep commitment to making all guests feel at home and happy.
The hotel industry works as a single team. When one hotel cannot fully satisfy the needs of a guest, another will always be there to help. Staff members make cross-referrals whenever needed.
As Hong Kong welcomes more visitors, its hotels step up their efforts to provide full value for money, pleasant experiences and enjoyable stays for each and every guest. To everyone striding through our doors, we say, "Be our guest. Have a great and productive time in Hong Kong."
PARTICIPATING in trade fairs is a potentially profitable undertaking for most small and medium enterprises. As the world's ninth largest trading economy, Hong Kong has acquired substantial trade-fair expertise and infrastructure. Now the trade-fair industry is firmly established in major cities on the Chinese mainland and spreading from there.
SMEs from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland recognize trade fairs are a useful means to approach new markets and to maintain business links with existing ones. Hence, these SMEs appear at leading trade fairs all over the world.
Trade-event organizers try to provide one-stop-shop solutions by organizing opportunities not only for buying and selling, but also for learning through conferences, seminars and other side events.
As the 21st century proceeds, advances in electronic communication will increasingly impact on how trade fairs are staged. For the short term, events involving face-to-face contact with as many potential business partners as possible are irreplaceable.
Savvy SME representatives should ensure the costs of participating are wisely invested. Yet not everyone is fully aware of the careful planning, implementation and follow-up necessary to make each trade-fair appearance a success.
On the following pages, industry experts offer sage advice on making the most of trade fairs.
Before The Event
|Trade fairs are significant occasions to gain orders and stimulate economic growth. Shown is Hong Kong chief secretary for administration Donald Tsang flanked by business leaders at an opening ceremony for three concurrent events: the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, the Hong Kong Int'l Lighting Fair and electronicAsia.|
CMP Asia Ltd (formerly Miller Freeman Asia Ltd) president Peter Sutton recommends that all companies considering plans to rent exhibition booths should adequately research the potentially suitable trade fairs and organizers.
"Select the most appropriate trade fair," urges Sutton. He suggests reading past directories and questioning the organizers. Pre-show advertising frequently indicates which events other companies choose for participation. The best choices are shows where the largest number of visitors are interested in the exhibitor's products.
"Success breeds success," advises Sutton. Wise exhibitors join the largest events their budgets allow. They should beware of trade fairs with similar-sounding names, a mistake that is conceivable when exhibiting overseas.
Deciding early to participate can drastically reduce the costs, declares Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd's general manager for textile fairs, Katy Lam. Early enrollees do receive the most "freebies" or no-cost pre-fair promotional benefits.
Publicity in pre-fair press releases, supplemental newsletters and trade magazines is free. Organizers often send invitation cards, stickers and inserts for early-deciders as enclosures with their own promotional materials.
"There are plenty of opportunities - free opportunities - for participants who are well organized," Lam says.
Adsale Exhibition Services managing director KS Tong says that while there is no exact formula for trade-fair success, companies assigning appropriate personnel with the necessary language skills and technical knowledge are off to a strong start.
Companies should heighten the potential gains by exploiting their assets. They should use industry contacts. "Competition is not absolute so companies can complement each other and share trade-show information," Tong says.
It is important to designate a staff member or team responsible for organizing efforts and delegate specific duties during any show. "Taking advantage requires organization, preparation and a flexible attitude," advises Tong.
During The Fair
|Buyers at major trade fairs find numerous new products to examine. Exhibitors taking a strategic approach enhance their prospects to make deals. Above photo is the scene from the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair.|
"Focus on internal considerations at the fair. Ensure that your services and actions complement, not repeat, what the organizers are doing," says KS Tong of Adsale Exhibition Services.
Exhibitors must display welcoming attitudes. "This is not an issue of big budgets and spending heavily on glamorous stand presentation," says Katy Lam of Messe Frankfurt (HK) Ltd. Instead, the important factors are to project friendliness and (unless copyright policy is prohibitive) to organize products in an interactive manner.
Hire the best available interpreters, those combining product knowledge with translation experience. Fair organizers or business associations can assist or advise in securing interpreters.
Software is available for palm or laptop data collection. Alternatively, even the simplest records are effective.
CMP Asia Ltd's Peter Sutton says exhibitors should build upon all the excitement at trade fairs by coordinating their fair appearances with the launch of new lines or products and relevant announcements.
The more often visitors see an exhibitor's company name, the better. Participants should grasp all chances to use company names and logos on posters, boxes and banners. They should advertise or contribute editorially to fairground newspapers.
Big booths generate more attention. Exhibitors should ensure their space is noticeable and attractive while prominently displaying the company name. If necessary, they may wish to use balloons.
Participants should network by attending fair-sponsored seminars and conferences. They should tour all exhibition halls to investigate what competitors are doing. One-to-one selling among exhibitors is also a major source of business.
|Buyer meets seller at CeBIT - the World Centre for Office Information & Telecommunications, a leading trade fair in Hannover, Germany.|
Exhibitors should follow through completely on all leads, rather than focusing too narrowly on "definite" enquiries. It is important to avoid the "big mistake" of sending all enquirers a single and identical follow-up letter. Addressing topics mentioned at the time of enquiry makes a much better impression. Multiple follow-up letters are an investment likely to pay off handsomely.
Peter Sutton of CMP Asia Ltd says too many exhibitors overlook the post-show follow-up, which should include creating a database to generate individual e-mail letters thanking enquirers while reiterating the value of the products or services on offer.
Company Web sites are another important follow-up tool. Internet addresses should appear in all promotional material.
Adsale Exhibition Services' KS Tong suggests asking fair organizers for a post-show report for use in comparing to personal experience and evaluating results.
Fairs last only a few days and require significant investments in time, money and staffing. Tong urges exhibitors to be genuinely responsive to all visitors who express interest.
Despite the expenses, trade fairs are extremely cost-effective and do continue even amid tight economic conditions. Lam says trade-fair organizers will remain busy, although venue sizes may decrease and participants may rent smaller booths.
Strategy is more crucial than ever. "No matter if your stand attracts 200,000
or 2,000 visitors, it won't make any difference if they are the wrong ones.
Finding the right customers is the most important task," Lam says.
CMP Asia Ltd
Among the recent winners of 2001 Hong Kong Trade Development Council Services Awards for Export Marketing was CMP Asia Ltd. Here is a profile of this outstanding company.
|Thousands of SME representatives attend trade fairs organized by CMP Asia Ltd in Hong Kong, on the Chinese mainland and elsewhere.|
THE people at CMP Asia Ltd, one of the region's largest independent trade fair organizers, believe a strong emphasis on understanding customers' needs is the foundation for their success.
"We call it a market-focused approach," says Peter Sutton, who is president and CEO of the company, a subsidiary of London-based United Business Media plc.
"It means we look at a market - the buyers, sellers and intermediaries - and at what they need to meet each other. We make sure we have trade fairs that are valuable to them."
Systematic market research, including post-fair surveys and face-to-face interviews, is conducted. Meetings with industry associations gauge the value and effectiveness of each event.
The company, formerly known as Miller Freeman Asia Ltd, organizes trade fairs in Hong Kong, the Chinese mainland, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and the US.
Although CMP Asia's regional headquarters is in Hong Kong, the company has more than 330 staff members in 11 cities throughout Asia and the US.
Each year, 15,000 exhibitors and 670,000 visitors participate in CMP Asia's trade fairs. The core industries concerned are jewellery and gifts, leather, information technology, industrial technology, furniture, beauty and health, paper and packaging, food ingredients, cruises and the building trades.
When comparing trade fairs in Asia to those of Europe or North America, Sutton says the participants are more focused on getting down to business.
"At European or North American fairs, you encounter more people interested mainly in learning about an industry and new products, attending seminars and conferences, and having a social occasion," he explains.
SMEs are important at most CMP Asia trade fairs. "They are the dominant group of exhibitors. Our fairs target industries that have a high turnover, require frequent buying and have an import/export element. Trade fairs provide SMEs with a relatively cheap and extremely effective way to meet large numbers of buyers," Sutton says.
CMP Asia has made a strong push into the Chinese mainland, a thrust it will continue. For example, the company organizes Furniture China, the country's largest international furniture exhibition. Among CMP Asia's eight fairs in Hong Kong are Cosmoprof Asia (the region's largest beauty event), the Hong Kong Jewellery and Watch Fair, the Asia Pacific Leather Fair, and the Int'l Computer Expo.
Tough global economic conditions may dampen upcoming fairs. "Exhibitions are sensitive to market conditions, and it is clearly a tougher climate. But one interesting thing we notice is that exhibitions tend to be more resilient when times are difficult, especially in the case of big fairs," Sutton says.
Disinclined to merely bide time, CMP Asia is determined to forge ahead with new fairs in new markets.
CMP Asia Ltd
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