Globally celebrated as a leading corporate and business hub, Hong Kong is now working on broadening its horizons, expanding its offerings to appeal to the opposite end of the spectrum – the family tourism niche. Emily Millett finds out what the destination is doing to attract these new and diverse market segments.
The ubiquitous image of Hong Kong is one of a skyline dominated by hoards of ambitious concrete skyscrapers, symbolic of a destination supposedly blinkered by a corporate goal. However, having recently widened its audiences and submitted to its leisure tourism potential, Hong Kong is now seeing further growth across its travel, tourism and hospitality industries.
According to the latest figures released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), arrivals into the destination increased by 12 per cent last year, reaching 60.8 million. Most of the visitors hailed from mainland China, with South Korea and Japan also contributing large amounts of travellers.
Hotels around the destination are reaping the benefits of this incursion, witnessing solid growth for the majority of 2014, and setting the expectations high for 2015.
“It is anticipated that Hong Kong as a popular travel destination will continue to enjoy the influx of travellers from China, Australia and Korea. The UK market will remain robust, with India and the Middle East on the rise,” said general manager, Harbour Grand Kowloon, Yngvar Stray.
The destination’s lack of seasonality is thought to be a key factor in its increasing appeal, as Stray explained to TTG: “Hong Kong is able to attract travellers from around the world throughout all seasons, with constant growth year-on-year.”
In a bid to accommodate the rise in visitor arrivals, Harbour Grand Kowloon is currently undergoing an extension project, adding some 360 guest rooms. The new units are on course to be ready for 2017, with a full refurbishment of the existing 554 guest rooms also in the pipeline.
With these developments underway, the property is hoping to attract what is becoming one of the fastest growing market segments in Hong Kong – the multi-generational family travellers.
GENERATION X, Y AND Z
“We noticed a trend that our guests travel as families with three generations all together. This calls for a more flexible accommodation in terms of bedding and room configuration – something that we are able to accommodate with our large-sized rooms,” Stray told TTG.
“A higher degree of individual travellers now opt for the freedom to explore on their own in a group of families, or friends travel in small groups for fun and exploration. Our large-sized rooms can easily accommodate these groups of travellers, given that they are large enough to cater for two adults and two children.”
A number of hotels in Hong Kong are going out of their way to adapt to a more family friendly model, as general manager, Eaton Hong Kong, Shane Pateman demonstrated to TTG: “We are seeing an increase in family travel and have put a lot of focus on our family room and triple room products which are proving more and more popular. In total we now have 26 family rooms that can comfortably sleep a family of five, and 16 triple rooms for three adults wishing to share.”
Cosmopolitan Hotel is also currently undergoing renovation work to all 454 rooms and suites in an effort to not only offer more amenities and facilities, but also make more accommodation available to visitors travelling en famille.
Speaking to TTG about the developments general manager, Cosmopolitan Hotel and Cosmo Hotel, Anita Chan said: “Following the renovation, more family room types will be made available in the hotel to meet the ever-growing family market. This was not by accident, from a statistic released by HKTB, Middle Eastern families’ vacations constitute a large portion of the total number of tourists visiting Hong Kong, and the number is rising. We believe by adding more family rooms to our hotel we will be able to attract these tourists.”
RALLYING THE REGION
Although the Middle East market still constitutes a small percentage of overall business for Hong Kong, the niche is growing, and in response companies are thinking about how to better attract this lucrative segment.
“The Middle East sector continues to have positive growth with the visa-free arrangements, expanded flight capacity and enhanced promotional exposure, this will for sure continue to be one of our target markets for business development,” said general manager, Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees, Christina Cheng. “We have been working with the Halal officials to upkeep certified Halal menus at our hotel restaurant in accordance to the specific requirements.”
Endeavouring to understand the requirements of the Middle Eastern market, Harbour Grand Hong Kong is also pulling out the stops to ensure it caters to this niche, as general manager, Benedict Chow explained to TTG: “We have special arrangements as they usually require more family travel needs compared with many other markets.
We provide Halal food, Mecca direction pointers in guest rooms and turn-down mats for prayers, connecting rooms to accommodate big families and even a kitchenette for simple home-cooking. We try to supply all that is needed for their convenience to let them feel at home.”
Proving its worth as an effective tool for encouraging bilateral network growth, Cathay Pacific Airways is also showing strong commitment to serving the Middle East, with 2014 seeing the launch of a daily service between Hong Kong and Doha, as well as an increase to five times weekly on the Hong Kong – Riyadh service. “Travellers from the Middle East can enjoy fast and seamless transfer in Hong Kong onto other destinations in China and other Asian countries,” revenue manager, Cathay Pacific Airways, Melody Keung explained to TTG.
ADDING VALUE FOR CORPORATES
While Hong Kong is working hard to brush up its family and leisure tourism act, the destination is still primarily a business travel hub, and the continued growth and success of corporate offerings such as AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) are helping to further cement this status.
Commenting on the venue’s accomplishments, director of branding and corporate communication, AWE Nora Yong told TTG: “AWE’s total meterage sold in 2014 constituted a year-to-year double-digit growth for the fifth consecutive year. With the emergence of more regional competition, AWE will continue to consolidate itself as a globally-respected EXPOtainment MICE venue through service innovation and by collaborating with partners to further boost this sector in Hong Kong.”
In a destination where business travellers outweigh other groups, hotels are going out of their way to offer the best value in terms of convenience, comfort, flexibility and accessibility. Aiming to stay on trend, Cosmopolitan Hotel and Cosmo Hotel have launched a series of added-value extras to facilitate the business guests’ stay.
“An amazing product we offer which brings great convenience is the smart phone available in every guest room. The device is absolutely free of charge with no deposit required whatsoever. It comes with free 3G Inter-net, local and IDD calls to seven countries,” Chan commented to TTG.
V Hotels and Serviced Apartments are also aiming to appeal to the fail-safe corporate market with added value and seductive technology treats.
“To make our offers more appealing, we at V Hotels and Serviced Apartments, are extending additional value-added services to our corporate guests, by providing complimentary minibar drinks and complimentary use of smart phones throughout their stay, in order to enhance their experience,” commented marketing and communications manager, V Hotels and Serviced Apartments, Winny Mui.
With its position in the corporate tourism hall of fame firmly established, Hong Kong is now successfully developing credible prowess in alternative niches.