Kenneth Wong, HKTB GM, MICE and Cruise, regional director, Europe: "Judging from the current situation, the mainland and some short-haul markets, such as Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea, are likely to be the first few markets to recover from the COVID-19 fallout. We plan to resume our MICE promotions in these markets at the initial stage." Credit: HKTB
HONG KONG - Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has announced a new online business matching platform that will enable Hong Kong's MICE stakeholders to take advantage of early opportunities to promote their businesses and match with potential buyers. The platform will be launched in China next month and will be adapted for further short-haul markets later on.
Mr Kenneth Wong, GM, MICE and Cruise, and regional director Europe, HKTB, announced this and additional MICE recovery strategies on 25 May via a webinar instead of the usual face-to-face annual MICE review.
"There's no denying we have lost a lot of ground over much of the past 12 months due to the double hit of social situation changes and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic," he said. "The HKTB plans to support all of us in the MICE industry and get business flowing again."
Considering the highly dynamic reality, once MICE business resumes, he predicted a necessity for flexibility amid shortened lead times in organisers' planning journeys, smaller groups in general and, of course, hygiene as a primary criterion.
"Judging from the current situation, the mainland and some short-haul markets, such as Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea, are likely to be the first few markets to recovery from the COVID-19 fallout. We plan to resume our MICE promotions in these markets at the initial stage."
Inbound and outbound
Business recovery will include targeted initiatives such as using funds to bid for major exhibitions and conventions at risk to drive quick wins, and for medium to large-size MICE events in the longer-term.
HKTB is also beefing up the small size MICE group funding scheme for local ground operators and shortening the minimum stay requirement to one night, while opening small meetings and conventions funding to the city's hotels.
In terms of outreach, trade partners joining HKTB delegations to overseas trade shows will be eligible for participating fees, air tickets and accommodation fully or partially subsidised.
Five major trade shows have already been identified to expand Hong Kong's presence globally. "We will lead Hong Kong delegations to activate outreach efforts as soon as the situation allows."
Technology will again come to the fore, as social media channels will share testimonials and success stories and reassurance from industry leaders that the city remains 'The World's Meeting Place'.
There will be increased exposure and engagement at major industry events, collaboration with bodies such as InvestHK, HKTC and leading business media, and a new digital campaign.
Meet On @ Hong Kong
The Meet On @ Hong Kong Campaign will bring together over 70 hotels committing free meeting and dining packages for small groups, free flights and special services on board Cathay Pacific, and free hospitality at city-wide attractions.
"The programme will be rolled out as soon as markets are ready and the launch will be supported by a series of large-scale but gradual promotions on the mainland and other ready-to-go overseas markets," said Mr Wong.
"Incentive travel will continue to be a powerful motivational tool," he continued. "We believe the new norm will be shorter trips with more motivational and meaningful content favouring CSR and wellness themes."
He highlighted eco-cultural tours in Tai O, local sustainable development or art and craft workshop participation, forest bathing for inner peace, alfresco tai chi and yoga, and tea pairing or dim sum in the Dark.
The HKTB will also identify leaders of professional and trade associations, chambers of commerce and universities to become Hong Kong's MICE ambassadors, leverage their international connections and promote Hong Kong as a future convention destination and reinforce its position as the MICE capital of Asia.