As the pandemic anxiety in Hong Kong recedes amid the relaxation of social distancing rules, local business sentiment is improving, with the help of measures such as the Consumption Voucher Scheme.
That sounds like good news to the hard-hit MICE industry. After the pandemic put a stop to face-to-face events more than a year ago, the industry explored new ways to meet demand for brand activation and audience-brand engagement, such as by shifting audience experience safely online or offering an increasingly ‘integrated experience’ – a seamless confluence of live physical and online content. These new product models helped the industry survive the pandemic; but with the worst of the emergency over, is it time to focus on preparing for a return to in-person events?
The answer is ‘no’. The new product models, and especially the integrated experience, are not merely stopgap measures or an outgrowth of contingency planning. Online and integrated experiences are plainly here to stay, in part due to their inherent applicability during future crises. Like the pandemic, we probably won’t see the crises coming – which is why we should always treat predictions with healthy scepticism.
As things are, though economic activity in Hong Kong has seen some improvement, it is still below pre-recession levels, and even the predictions aren’t entirely rosy. As shown in advance estimates on GDP for second quarter of 2021 released by the government in late July, the economic recovery of Hong Kong is slightly slower than expected and remains uneven: GDP rose by 7.5% from a year earlier, following 8% growth in the prior quarter.
Furthermore, the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook projects that global income at the end of 2022 will be around US$3 trillion less than was expected before the pandemic.
Other reasons why online and integrated will stay around are the same as before the pandemic: the experiences they offer can be both memorably distinctive and shared by a potentially unlimited audience, helping brands secure an impressive event ROI. The industry and market had already been moving in their direction, and the crisis merely accelerated the shift.
Virtual will become even more of a mainstay when the digital natives of Gen Z and Gen Alpha grow into consumer market dominance. At that point, offering a choice of participating in live events either in person or via a laptop or mobile device will become a best practice. Further development of the model will very much be in line with their expectations, habits and needs.
It is already obvious that agencies who embrace the integrated experience will be the most likely to sustain their business in the long term – but with one caveat; their success will hinge on whether they can actually deliver what they embrace. That – and even capturing future opportunities – will require fundamental organisational change.
In the past, MICE industry agencies were specialised ‘live event production experts’, ‘digital marketing strategists’ and so on. When it comes to planning and delivering integrated events, however, the process becomes hugely more intricate, complex and blurry. Input is required from a wider spectrum of creative, marketing, analytic, digital, technical and administrative talent, as well as a whole new level of coordination. Just as the boundaries between analogue and digital are erased, so will be the traditional boundaries between offices, teams and individual skill sets. As a matter of necessity, nobody can afford their own silo any longer.
The changes already underway may seem challenging, but it is worth noting that change is nothing new to the MICE industry; it is fast-changing by nature, requiring its professionals to continuously redefine and reimagine how to engage with audiences. As usual, the next industry renaissance will be led by those who can meet challenges with resilience.
By mid-June of 2021, more than 2.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered to populations in 180 countries, according to data collected by Bloomberg. While that may be encouraging news on its face, a return to ‘business as usual’ remains a distant and uncertain prospect; though COVID transmission rates are down in some countries, they have skyrocketed in others, causing yet more rounds of lockdowns and bringing economic activity to a virtual halt.
The COVID-19 pandemic and continuing social unrest sparked by pro-democracy protests have converged to deal a dramatic blow to Hong Kong’s economy, rendering the city’s future uncertain. Experts say Hong Kong is on the edge of a precipice and recovery is expected to be elusive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed changes to our daily lives to an unprecedented scale in just a few months. In Hong Kong, trade shows, conferences, concerts and many other events are being postponed, rescheduled or even cancelled. We have been hearing people talk about the “new normal”, meaning a new way of living and disruptions in our habits and tradition relating to the way we live, work and interact with others. We cannot define what exactly the new normal will become. Things will just never be the same as they were before. Our new normal will continue to change, and it will change very quickly.
The coronavirus pandemic has vastly altered the way businesses operate. From physical meetings and seamless access to company servers, businesses worldwide have been forced to shift to virtual and remote working models. This paradigm shift has changed how people work, collaborate, access data and view work-life balance. Hong Kong was amongst the first cities in the world to enforce social distancing measures and many organisations were left scrambling to enable remote working to minimise operational disruption.
We have no idea of when the COVID-19 will end. People called it the third wave. Given COVID-19’s ferocity, rampant speed and potential to return, Hong Kong enterprises should be extremely agile and explore new ways to continue running the businesses. Fluid as the situation is, traditional businesses might not survive if they do nothing but merely wait for economic recovery.
What started as a bold threat from the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has been stripped of any pretence of mere possibility, as President Donald Trump declared Hong Kong is to officially have its special trade status revoked.
The pandemic has set in motion a complete change in customer shopping behaviour. Not only are people increasingly going online to buy items which they previously preferred to buy offline, such as medicine and groceries, but those earlier uncomfortable with online shopping are now giving it a try.
In today’s business environment, many companies are adopting to the ‘new normal’ of remote operations to minimise disruption. In Asia Pacific, finance teams are presented with a new challenge – closing their books remotely for the first time. Here in Hong Kong, working from home was quickly adopted throughout the city from the beginning of the year, leading to many employees and employers to seek out new ways to adapt to home offices.
Setting up an ecommerce store is no easy feat. Not a lot of people realise the amount of time and effort that goes into building an aesthetically pleasing, functional, and easy-to-use website. It involves a great deal of work.
Hong Kong has taken a series of unfavourable hits in the last year, their unfortunate magnitude clear to see for the watching eyes of the world. The latest of which is United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly stating that the country no longer considers Hong Kong to be adequately independent from China.
Research shows working from home was part of the employee experience before the pandemic hit. Businesses worldwide are urging, and in some cases mandating, employees to work from home. Technology has empowered a global workforce that stays connected in a work-from-anywhere world. In the last 15 years, working from home has increased 159% on an upward trend.
Not so long ago, having a business website, no matter how slapdash, was a big deal. But nowadays, customers expect the smallest of small businesses to have a website. Online shopping in Hong Kong (and around the globe) has become extremely commonplace.