Dave Brooks Date: August 30, 2006 The Hong Kong Convention and
Exhibition Centre has achieved its most successful year in its
18-year history, with record results across all of its business
units. Communications Manager Gloria Fong linked the boost in
revenue and occupancy to increased participation from Mainland
China and a construction boom that has brought 30,000 hotel rooms
to the city center. Fong reported that the fiscal year ending on
June 30 brought 1,322 events to the center, bringing in $105
million in revenue, an 11.7% increase over the previous year.
Exhibition revenues were up 12%, bringing in $53 million, while
food and beverage sales brought in $38 million to the center.
Convention revenue climbed 51.2% to $6.5 million. Fong said her
facility, which is owned by the Hong Kong government and
self-operated and managed, has engaged in a selection process to
target groups with high potential for revenue — an effort
that has boosted the occupancy rate 5% to 58% for the year. The
convention center has implemented a sales team to seek out major
events with high revenue potential. Their efforts brought the
center the Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, the largest wine expo in Asia. The
event had traditionally been held in Japan and China, but Fong said
her group was able to recapture the expo after an eight-year lull
from hosting the event. “Our success from that event was our
repositioning not as a regional convention center destination, but
as a global competitor for business,” she said.
“We’ve taken great strides to explain that impact to
our clients.” The Vinexpo Asia-Pacific brought over 6,883
visitors to the convention center for the three-day event, and the
uncorking of 60,000 bottles of wine. Fong estimated that 20% of the
visitors came from Mainland China. Growing consumer demands from
the developing nation are driving trade shows at the center, she
said. “It’s convenient for the exhibitors because of
our location, and it’s accessible to Chinese residents. We
will remain competitive because of our prime location. We have the
reputation, the trade policy and a very stable government.
It’s much easier to do business here, then in Shanghai or
other parts of the region,” she said. Fong also pointed to an
increasing availability of cheap flights to the island city coupled
with an increase in Chinese disposable income. Still, lingering
concerns about intellectual property rights issues, especially
regarding software and technical design, has caused some major
corporations to shy away from the center. In response, the
convention center has hired several intellectual property attorneys
to work on site and assist with exhibitors concerns with protecting
their proprietary information. “If there is ever an issue or
concern, the attorneys can respond right away,” she said. The
strongest business the center does is consumer trade shows, she
said. The convention center just completed a computer show that
brought through an estimated 30,000 people. The convention center
also held a comic book show that drew in 48,000 visitors and is
planning a giant book fair — the biggest of its kind in the
region — for 68,000 people. “Trade shows are a much
bigger priority for us because they bring in visitors from outside
of Hong Kong and they spend a lot in the city,” she said. The
center also got a big boost on the international stage when it
hosted the Sixth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in
December. The long negotiations and bargaining sessions at the expo
transformed the convention center into a 24-hour operation with
deals going late into the night. “On the night before
closing, the director of food and beverages told me that 360 cups
of coffee had been consumed that evening,” she said.
“It was an interesting situation because we had no real idea
when the meetings would close. We had to simply wait in the main
hall for the closing ceremony and be ready to go, whenever that was
going to be. It was a real challenge, but it improved our
visibility on the world stage.” The center is currently
planning a 215,000 square-foot expansion and the construction of a
new exhibit hall, and the Hong Kong government recently undertook
an initiative to outfit the center with high-speed wireless
connections. — Dave Brooks Interviewed for this article:
Gloria Fong, (852) 2582 7918. CORRECTION In the Aug, 30
e-newsletter, Venues Today reported incorrect attendance numbers
for several events at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition
Centre. In fact, the Hong Kong Book Fair brought in 680,000 guests;
the comic-book festival, 490,000, and the Computer and
Communications Festival, 300,000. The book fair and comic festivals
are public events while the computer festival is for the trade
industry and public. Venues Today regrets the error.