. Bubble dreams spur Hong Kong's MICE recovery | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Bubble dreams spur Hong Kong's MICE recovery

Hotels reveal 2021 forecasts while preparing for the return of meetings and events with new incentives, tech upgrades and flexible booking arrangements.

The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but as 2020 comes to a close, hope is springing for the new year. (Pictured: Cordis, Hong Kong)
The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but as 2020 comes to a close, hope is springing for the new year. (Pictured: Cordis, Hong Kong) Photo Credit:Cordis, Hong Kong; Conrad Hong Kong; The Mira Hong Kong

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 centres.

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 and Taiwan".

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

Conrad Hong Kong has just launched its Hilton EventReady with CleanStay programme to deliver clean, flexible and socially-responsible event experiences.
Conrad Hong Kong has just launched its Hilton EventReady with CleanStay programme to deliver clean, flexible and socially-responsible event experiences.

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 Asia.

What to expect in 2021

Shane Pateman, managing director of Cordis (left), and Alexander Wassermann, head of hotels & serviced apartments at Miramar Group (right) both agree — physical events are here to stay.
Shane Pateman, managing director of Cordis (left), and Alexander Wassermann, head of hotels & serviced apartments at Miramar Group (right) both agree — physical events are here to stay.

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”.


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