Hong Kong’s tourist arrivals have steadily trended up since the
border re-opened with Mainland China in January 2023. July visitors
topped three million for the first time in three years, and hotel
occupancy and room rates are climbing at US$481.60 per night at the
premium end as of July 2023.
“When travel restrictions were lifted, we promptly saw a huge
resurgence of offline events with in-person attendees,” said Balwin
Yeung, group director global sales at Wharf Hotels. “Corporate meeting
planners were quick to book live format events, which showed most people
were ready to abandon online/hybrid events. Planners are also willing
to pay a premium for their preferred venue and/or date.”
Corporate meeting planners are also willing to pay a premium for their preferred venue and/or date.
Balwin Yeung, group director global sales, Wharf Hotels
High demand from the banking sector
The banking and finance sector is leading the way for MICE events,
and for the immediate term. Currently, source markets are primarily the
Greater Bay Area (GBA) and mainland China.
The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is gearing up for a busy Q4 2023, the
traditional convention season for finance. “The Greater Bay Area
development is bringing ample opportunities to Hong Kong's inbound
travel, helped by our ideal location in the beating heart of Hong Kong,”
said Irene Tan, director of commercial strategy, sales at Mandarin
Oriental, Hong Kong.
“In terms of international conventions, given the travel ban was
lifted in Singapore a lot earlier than Hong Kong, we can see that some
opportunities were lost to neighbouring cities, but we are hopeful that
Hong Kong resumes as the hub of Asia with more conventions and larger
events set to take place later in the year.”
We have noticed that the group size tends to be medium-sized – usually between 20 and 50 rooms – with a short lead time of two to three months. The leads mostly come from the Asia Pacific region.
Irene Tan, director of commercial strategy, sales, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
Strong growth from China
At the Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung and Four Points by Sheraton Hong
Kong Tung Chung, which opened in 2020, business from China is climbing.
“Specifically, we’re seeing a solid growth in the meeting and
incentives segment. Hong Kong is technically still in the recovery phase
as airlift to the city has yet to fully (rebound). We’re pacing
exceptionally well given the circumstances,” said Kevin Lam, director of
sales and marketing.
With Hong Kong being late to the re-opening game, and in the position
of having to re-win MICE business, there is an uncharacteristic amount
of hotel space available. Lead times have contracted but can demand more
flexibility on the part of the venue.
“We have noticed that the group size tends to be medium-sized –
usually between 20 and 50 rooms – with a short lead time of two to three
months. The leads mostly come from the Asia Pacific region,” said
MOHK’s Tan, a trend she thinks could continue into 2025. While in-person
meetings are rising, virtual meetings remain popular for participants
or speakers who may require long-haul flights.
Lam said that Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung is attracting large
groups on short notice. The hotel’s proximity to the GBA, the airport,
the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, and AsiaWorld-Expo are major selling
points as it simplifies organisation and streamlines logistics.
Wharf Hotels is also welcoming large groups. “We’ve noted that group
sizes have increased post-pandemic and we are regularly hosting large
events for 200+ participants,” said Yeung. “Revenge travel is providing a
welcome boost to the MICE industry and there is a sharp rebound for
in-person meetings/events. Our clients are eager for their staff to get
more face-time with each other and with their business partners.” Among
Wharf’s MICE clients in 2023 are insurers AXA and Chubb.
Bringing events outside of hotel walls
Hotels are also moving beyond the confines of their properties to market unique attractions as well.
“More and more hotels and meeting organisers are partnering with
external companies/vendors to create unique experiences that will
surprise attendees,” said Yeung. “A successful MICE event depends on
three factors: people, the venue and content. As there is more
flexibility with the latter, organisers will want to deliver experiences
that participants are unable to experience elsewhere.”
MOHK’s Tan said that the hotel’s location in the heart of the
financial district near the renovated Central Market, Peak Tram and
primary dining precinct, is a big selling point for large groups to hold
meetings in the hotel. Guests can also visit new museums and the hotel
is also within steps from the newly renovated Central Harbour Front.
“Guests today tend to plan a trip with multiple reasons in mind, and
things they want to achieve and do,” added Lam, citing the rise of
so-called bleisure travel. “They may even combine meeting with shopping
or, in our case, include a visit to Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360 and
nearby attractions. In essence, we are helping guests create a memorable
experience around our community.”