EVENT organisers in Hong Kong are using their autumn launch to host a short panel on the current unrest in the city and to find out how industry players can help each other overcome the crisis.
Local members of the International Live Events Association (ILEA) are organising a networking cocktail reception that will feature a short panel discussion on how five months of serious street clashes between police and protesters has hit business events.
The panel will be followed by an audience Q&A moderated by MIX editor Martin Donovan with the aim of airing views on how the events industry can help restore confidence in Hong Kong and assure clients.
The ILEA-HK 2019-2020 Kick Off Cocktail Reception has been planned for the Hive Sheung Wan, November 22; places may be limited so an RSVP is advised.
Disturbances over the past five months have seen corporate and consumer events cancelled or switched to other cities in the region, but major trade shows have gone ahead with overseas buyers praising Hong Kong as a safe place to do business.
Sam Shei, ILEA Hong Kong Chapter president, said two local industry figures have so far been lined up for the panel. Organisations such as the city’s tourism board have also been approached and he hoped that representatives from the city’s F&B providers would also participate.
KS Tong, whose company organises the annual ITE Hong Kong travel-trade and MICE show, is one of the panelists and is confident about holding another successful event in 2020.
“ITE is Hong Kong’s only travel fair and went ahead as planned in June despite protests in streets nearby several days in the same week,” Tong said, adding that the show’s overseas visitors increased but there was a 6 per cent decline in local attendees compared to last year.
Tong expressed hope that event organisers could also take heart from the positive statement issued by the Hong Kong Exhibition and Conference Industry Association about major trade shows having gone ahead “without incident or interruption”.
Hugo Cheng, director of F&B at The Park Lane Hong Kong – a Pullman Hotel, has agreed to share his experiences of handling the fallout from the SARs epidemic in 2003 and how that crisis, which had a serious economic impact, compared with the current situation.
Other topics to be touched upon by the panel include the government’s announcement of subsidies to city travel agents hit by a downturn in tourist numbers.
MIX editor Martin Donovan said: “It is vital that anyone concerned about the current situation facing event organisers in Hong Kong consider attending this networking event.
“It’s not going to be an angst-ridden analysis of the past few months, but instead a way of focusing on how the industry can offer moral support to each other as we look to the future and work out how to overcome any setbacks. Then, perhaps most importantly, you can enjoy the networking and take some positives away about future of business events in the region,” Donovan said.
When MIX contacted the Hong Kong Hotels Association about sending a representative to participate in the event, the office responded that it only dealt with requests from the government and selected associations.