The Hong Kong Government announced its latest social distancing
measures on 8 December as a result of the city’s fourth wave, including
restrictions on restaurant hours and closures of bars and fitness
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the hospitality industry is preparing
for the return of business travellers and MICE with new incentives and
stringent health and safety measures.
In particular, hoteliers predict that travel bubbles will provide the much-needed boost to regional MICE recovery.
“Once the travel bubbles open up, it will most likely affect
industries with smaller groups. We would expect Hong Kong to be popular
as a well-established destination for the MICE market with a strong
reputation for hygiene and quality”, said Shane Pateman, managing
director of Cordis.
Still, "[because] recovery to the pre-Covid-19 business volume would
certainly take time in the foreseeable future," the hotel will continue
to run with its focus on "local staycation guests in the business mix,"
said Jan Lee, director of sales, Conrad Hong Kong.
In the short term, Conrad is expecting recovery "to come from Greater
China and we look forward to the borders opening with Mainland, Macau
Others, such as Carina Chorengel, senior vice president - commercial,
Asia Pacific at Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, believe a vaccine is
essential to move forward.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we believed a Covid-19 vaccine
would be an important element for the travel industry’s full recovery,
including the MICE sector. The latest news on the progress of a vaccine
is extremely encouraging, and we anticipate an approved vaccine will
improve people’s confidence in, and mindset around, travel planning and
in-person meetings and sets us on an even clearer path to recovery."
Preparing for recovery
Throughout the year, Hong Kong hotels have attracted bookings from
local residents through reduced staycations prices with curated packages
offering unique experiences to rediscover the city.
International delegates and potential local and/or international MICE events are never too far from their plans.
Pateman from Cordis tells M&C Asia how they’re constantly “keeping up to date on the market segments”.
Meanwhile, Conrad recently launched its Hilton EventReady with
CleanStay programme, a new global meeting and events programme designed
to create clean, flexible and socially-responsible event experiences.
“This is a new way of doing events, and our Hilton EventReady
Playbook is a great resource for meeting planners since it contains lots
of ideas for redesigned event sets and creative ways to serve food and
beverage; not to mention that the hotel offers flexible terms to create a
hassle-free planning experience”, Lee said.
“We are also very excited to offer our clients the option of hosting
hybrid meetings with our in-house videoconferencing equipment, such as
the Cisco Webex Room Kit Plus."
Meanwhile, Hyatt's Chorengel says its HY-brid Meetings package, which
connects meetings across multiple Hyatt venues, has been warmly
received and attracting increased client inquiries.
The Mira is also offering hybrid meeting packages with flexible rates and a relaxed cancellation policy.
“The all-inclusive package includes meeting room, dedicated sales and
technical support, state-of-the-art audio visual equipment and
individual plated refreshment for each attendee”, Alexander Wassermann,
head of hotels & serviced apartments at Miramar Group, tells M&C
What to expect in 2021
Pateman of Cordis predicts business will return once the virus is
under control and the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble commences. “We
expect the coming year will pick up slowly and gradually. We also expect
the full-year room nights to be approximately 50% of pre-Covid levels
for this segment."
In short, physical events are here to stay.
“If we take China as an example, we are already seeing MICE events returning in this market,” adds Hyatt's Chorengel.
“While some business trips may be held up with the adoption of
virtual meetings, we foresee only necessary and small corporate groups
travelling will be resumed with a hybrid meeting format, for instance
micro meetings or small town halls," Wassermann tells us. The Mira has
converted some of its spaces to pop-up dining venues in the meantime.
Conrad's Lee also notes that events will be smaller compared to
previous years, but technology will be crucial as meetings become
hybrid. Opportunities will come in the form of "incentives, training
groups and smaller-scale corporate meetings".
“Next year looks more positive — clients are definitely keen to
resume face-to-face events as soon as possible. Hong Kong remains a
popular destination and we are confident that once borders open,
travellers will come back to Hong Kong, as well as using our city to do
business in the Greater Bay Area”.