Challenges brought on by the global recession forced the Mice sector to review strategies - but some divine intervention helped deliver one hotel group from the worst of the downturn.
Meetings organised by religious associations and education groups were the salvation of the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel, part of the Sino Group of Hotels portfolio.
"During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, companies were cutting down tremendously on their travelling budgets," says a spokesman for Sino Group of Hotels. "Most companies resorted to conducting video conferences instead of travelling overseas. It posed a big challenge for the hotel's Mice business, as the crisis mainly affected the finance and banking sector
"Under these circumstances, the Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel shifted its focus from finance and banking to other potential sectors, such as educational and religious associations."
The hotel recorded a growth in Mice business of more than 80 per cent for the first part of this year compared to the same period last year, and religious and educational associations contributed substantially.
Though the group successfully weathered the downturn, it noticed "patterns of business" changing with events becoming smaller, shorter lead times, and event organisers more concerned about price and demanding higher value.
"Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel has made adjustments to its sales strategy to satisfy the meeting organisers' requests," says the spokesman. "Tailor-made packages and arrangements are designed to satisfy the meeting organisers' demands.'
The Sino Group has formed an event team to enhance services in all areas of the Mice business for event planners and corporate meeting organisers who are requesting more advanced meeting equipment and facilities.
"Exciting times lie ahead as we are partnering with the Hong Kong Tourism Board in developing Mice business and [building] our presence on the mainland and India markets.
"We are also connecting with an overseas event planning company to publicise directly to corporate end-users through promotions in order to enlarge our customer base globally. In Hong Kong, we are inviting corporate end-users to receive a complimentary hotel stay, dining and team-building activities and so on, for them to experience through participation," says the Sino Group spokesman.