Hong Kong is starting to see the emergence of unusual event venues, as companies demand more innovative and cost-effective options.
"Unique venues attract a lot of corporate usage because companies don't want to have their event always in the same place, therefore, you are seeing a growth of event venues in unusual buildings," says Adam Whiting, founder of VenueHub.hk, an online portal connecting venue providers in Hong Kong with bookers from around the world.
"For both private and corporate events, we have noticed an increasingly healthy appetite for booking spaces that are in some way unusual, quirky or generally remarkable. This can be a subtle physical feature, a surprising location, a venue with a unique overall concept - anything that is some way different than your typical event venue," adds Malcolm Loudon, co-founder and sales director of the portal.
According to Loudon, venues that have a historical or quintessentially "Hong Kong" aspect to them tend to be highly attractive to multinational organisations holding an event for overseas guests.
"Companies appreciate having more choices and, with corporate budgets being cut slightly, hosting an event outside a five-star hotel is often cheaper," Whiting says. But he reckons that for MICE planners who also require accommodation for the guests, hosting events at hotels still has certain advantages, such as bundling the rooms and venue for a better deal.
Loudon adds that upmarket hotels are still alluring to many private and corporate bookers with higher budgets because of the comfortable environment, professional service, high-quality food and beverage options, and state-of-the-art technical facilities that they provide.
More companies are using outdoor spaces for their events, according to Whiting, with venues featuring a terrace or rooftop receiving increased booking interest. For example, Cyberport in Pok Fu Lam has an event hall with an adjacent open space.
Whiting says that although large MICE groups tend to host their events at hotels, they will also often host smaller events at off-site venues. This has created growing demand for small- to medium-sized event venues, many of which have popped up over the last few years.
Here are some of Hong Kong's more unusual event venues, as suggested by Whiting and Loudon:
Hong Kong Maritime Museum
Located at Pier 8 in Central, this historic attraction boasts stunning harbour views, and its venue spaces can be tailored to suit the needs of corporate events. Capacity: Special Events and Exhibition Gallery - 3,767 sq ft; 250 people cocktail/200 theatre/150 banquet; Harbour Viewing Gallery - 818 sq ft; 100 cocktail; Long Gallery - 721 sq ft; 60 cocktail/40 theatre; Underwater Gallery - 441 sq ft; 50 theatre. www.hkmaritimemuseum.org
This multipurpose event space at PMQ, in SoHo can be configured for various events. Capacity: 4,000 sq ft; 500 people cocktail/320 banquet/120 classroom/480 theatre. www.pmq.org.hk
Ocean View Court
This space located at The Arcade at Cyberport is available for exhibitions, galas, shows, product showcases and charity events. Capacity: 500 people standing. www.cyberport.hk
Located at Central's Star Ferry pier, this restaurant offers waterfront dining with a 270-degree view of Victoria Harbour. Available for events and parties, the open-plan space can be partitioned into a smaller area or utilised at its full capacity with water views on three sides. Capacity: 300 people. www.cafedecogroup.com
SoHo Printing Press
A former printing shop in Sheung Wan that was owned and managed by a local Hong Kong family for generations has been renovated to preserve the original details while offering modern functionality and infrastructure. The space is divided into two floors, with an internal staircase connecting the levels. Capacity: 1,400 sq ft; 120 people standing/76 seated. www.lightstage.hk
This large multipurpose event space alongside Victoria Harbour offers 180-degree views of the harbour and the surrounding skyline. It is suitable for outdoor events. Capacity: 5,000 sq ft; 500 standing/150 interior seated. www.nwff.com.hk
ClubONE The Grand Stage
This venue is located in Sheung Wan's Western Market, a 100-year heritage building that features 50-foot ceilings, along with Edwardian-style furnishings and Gothic interior architecture. Capacity: 500 people banquet/300 theatre. www.clubone.com.hk
This restaurant and events venue in Admiralty is situated in a heritage site of a former explosives compound in Victoria Barracks. Capacity: 1,000 sq ft; 100 people cocktail/58 seated. www.ammo.com.hk