I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion of leaders from the Asian event industry on our future and where we were headed. We met at the Chinese Club of Hong Kong, the bastion of business since 1897, illustrious past member included Dr. Sun Yat Sen and most of Hong Kong’s major business leaders over the years. The Club’s understated elegance hasn’t changed since 1987 but you could still feel the plans made here by Sun Yat Sen and his cohorts, the friendships established, the handshakes of business and mega deals done. The Chinese Club of Hong Kong was the perfect venue for ISES Hong Kong Annual Leadership Dinner. This year’s topic “The Asian Event Industry – What, Where, When?” focused on new potential markets, questioned some of current ones and looked at what we can do as leaders to guide the industry.
This years’ invited guests were more diverse than the past. previous years’ focused mostly on world wide agencies with offices across the globe. This year brought in a more Hong Kong focus with event owners, industry disrupters and managers of large scale sporting events as well as the agencies and independent planners.
Invited guests included:
Rob Williams, Asia Media Search –
Robert is a headhunter for the events industry providing talent for media, event and marketing companies.
Robert Rogers CSEP, Events Man
Robert is an event designer and producer who specializes in vip management and hi end luxury events for the corporate and private world.
Malcolm Loudon, VenueHub
Malcom is a founding partner of venuhub.hk a new web portal that connects event spaces with planners.
Sam Shei, Showbiz Creation
Sam is a stalwart of the Hong Kong event industry providing management and production for corporate events in Hong Kong as well as running several venues in the mainland.
Beatrice Remy WRG
Beatrice heads up the WRG Creative Agency Hong Kong office. WRG provides branded experience around the world with offices in Europe, Middle East, Asia and the US.
Sophie Fleming and Elle Bradstock, Q&Co
Q&Co is part of the worldwide Quintessentially Group and provide brand experiences to the luxury sector.
Melvin Byres, HKRFU
Melvin is the event manager for the International Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong oldest and largest annual sporting event.
Vincent Ng, TEDx Wanchai
Vincent is the curator for TEDx Wanchai one of the largest TED conferences in Asia. He is also the co owner of 1+1=11 event production company providing modern team building and audience curation for events.
Justin Sweeting, Magnetic Asia
Justin is cofounder of Clockenflap festival, Neon Lights Festival in Singapore and instigator of Yourmum and Ticketflap.
Prudence Lui TTG Mice Asia
Prudence is a long time journalist specializing in MICE and events markets.
We began our conversation with 2 dishes, Crab with meat baked in Portugal style and Dried Black moss with Vegetable and the question:
Currently the markets for the event industry in Asia is in state of flux. What markets do you see changing and how, which do you see as emerging or up and coming?
All agreed the luxury market in China had dropped. Thoughts on the causes were mixed, partially because of the corruption crackdown, economic worry and less spending but also because the Chinese attendee was changing. They are becoming more educated. They now tend to value the up close and personal experience. They understand the difference of being a VIP guest and simply attending the spectacles and giant galas that have been so prevalent in the past 10 years. Also possibly as the luxury market comes under scrutiny these events are needing to show more ROI which can be more easily measured in a smaller setting.
Singapore as a city was noted for their welcoming support for events, potential government funding as well as value added service. Several lamented they wished Hong Kong government was so helpful when it came to event and conference support.
Taiwan, Philippines and Japan were noted as potential venues but with limited markets. New hotspots for incentive groups and adventurous types were Myramar, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos but was noted it was ‘in the jungle with no support or spare lightbulbs for equipment.
Fried Peeled Prawns with Stir-fried Cockles / Pea Sprout fried with Crab meat
What changes do you see for the Hong Kong market in the coming two years?
New competition coming into the market was lauded as being a great help within the public events market by helping to create a stronger scene for live music and events. On the private and corporate market some frustration was expressed with new comers with no overheads or experience undercutting more established firms with un workable pricing.
Technology was seen as having a major effect for the industry with disrupters like Ticketflap creating waves in the market with more affordable ticketing and RFID technology. The recent explosion of startups across the region was seen as having a positive effect by suppling useful new apps and potential new clients. For the longer term there was some talk of Internet of Things and how this may influence the delivery of events as well as how government support for the startup community could hopefully lead to a new ‘dot com’ era.
Sweet Corn Soup/Steamed Dry Scallops in Fuzzy Melon
Do Asian politics have any influence on the event industry / market. What recent events are you seeing impacting your planning?
Much ‘off the record’ was spoken about frustrations in dealing with government departments in Hong Kong. There was a general feeling that on a higher level the Hong Kong Government has some great ideas and really wants to support the industry however it falls flat when it comes to delivery and implementation. Initiatives such as the Mega Events Fund, MEHK were mentioned. The major frustration was the lack of support for venues and the difficulty in booking public space. In addition the refusal to address issues surrounding the noise control ordinance were compared to an ostrich with it’s head in the sand. Singapore and Macau were both noted for having a more helpful system that sees value in the industry and wants to help it to thrive. It was noted that there were no studies available on the revenue generated by the events industry. One of the group said they were commissioning their own study in their sector so they would have the information to present to potential sponsors.
Garoupa Fish in Pieces, Baked Farm Chicken
With Hong Kong in mind, What can we do as an association to nurture the market and what can we do to inspire others to take a more active role in shaping the industry?
The event industry in Hong Kong has grown phenomenally over the past 10 years. The International Special Events Society Hong Kong Chapter should be a voice for the live events industry and lead the way in developing best practices in risk management and in enhancing creativity. Continued dialogue within the industry is a key factor in making sure we grow the industry in a sustainable and positive way and ensure we all have a voice in that growth. ISES should continue leadership dinners and work on other ways to bring the industry together.
Fried Sticky Rice with Preserved Sausage, Mushroom in Stewed E-Fu Noodle
Closing and recap
I was great to see such a wide variety of Live Event professionals to come together to share common challenges and their visions of the future. The Leadership dinner will be held again next year and hopefully will be enlarged to allow for more discussion and a wider range of solutions.
Dumpling dessert, Fruit Plate