Have you ever worried if your beautifully packaged expensive premium will be well received or banished to the bottom of the drawer, joining other unimaginative gifts? Equally, when it is time to treat your team, isn’t it always a headache to find the right kind of gift or activity: exclusive, special and imaginative?
“Gifts don’t have to come in nicely wrapped packages,” says Michelle Lam, managing director and founder of Spoilt, a Hong Kong-based company set up in February. “A gift of experience, especially one that is out of the ordinary, will be remembered forever.”
Booking an experience in lieu of giving someone an object is not a new concept. It is done with increasing frequency in the US, Europe and Australia, where unique experiences are packaged to allow recipients to have a different kind of fun.
Seeing a niche in Hong Kong for exactly this type of business, Spoilt was established to provide “experience gifts” that widen one’s horizons.
In the eight months since it launched, Spoilt has been getting steady business – mostly through word-of-mouth.
It’s not only individuals who come knocking on its door; companies too are beating a path to its online store at www.spoilt.com.hk for activities that help in teambuilding.
Today, Spoilt has a portfolio of over 40 unique experiences that is divided into six categories, ranging from water-based to gourmet activities.
For example, you can awaken your inner pilot by taking the helm of a Boeing B737 in a flight simulator located in Kowloon Bay. You and your assistant pilot will experience what it was like to land at the old Kai Tak airport, making that infamous approach to the runway that almost scraped the top of the apartment buildings.
The participants can make the experience more challenging by adding stormy weather to the simulated flight. A licensed pilot is also there in the cockpit to guide budding pilots through the process. At the end, a DVD recording captures the whole experience and serves as a souvenir.
Only two people can ride the simulator at a time. The rest of your party can enjoy some drinks and finger food while observing at the sidelines and waiting for their turn.
If this flight of fantasy doesn’t appeal, sailing the high seas in a pirate’s guise might catch your interest. Take The Bounty, a full-scale replica of the 18th century tall ship that featured prominently in British maritime history, for a spin around Hong Kong’s waters. You can learn basic sailing skills while enjoying pirate-themed entertainment and games on deck.
“We add at least four new experiences to our list every month. Before putting it up there, our team has to go through the activity first hand to ensure that it delivers on the fun and the expectation,” says Lam.
Spoilt strives to add a new twist even to a tried and tested experience. If you are tired of the same old wine-tasting event, take your group to a wine lab and blend your own Bordeaux. Not only do participants get to try their hand at something new, but also quite a few of these experiences take them to places in Hong Kong that even local residents seldom see.
Go to Wan Chai and don a personalised chef’s jacket for a three-hour artisan-style chocolate-making class in a professional kitchen. Step into the Harilela Mansion in Kowloon Tong for a cooking class with Ayurvedic nutritional therapist and holistic chef Lakshmi Harilela – this experience includes a visit to the Kowloon City wet market, where your group learns to pick the best produce at the best prices.
“These experiences can be purchased and booked on our website and they cost between a few hundred and a few thousand [Hong Kong dollars],” says Lam. Most activities run year-round, although special programmes have limited runs, such as the Superstar Golf Clinic with Butch Harmon in Macau. Harmon has been a teaching instructor to several US PGA Tour players such as Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Davis Love.
Bookings for large groups can be tailor-made and the programmes can be tweaked to add special elements based on client requirements and budget.
“People are always looking for great gift ideas,” says Lam. “And a gift of experience delivers high impact and emotional resonance, as the memories of these events stay with the participants for years to come.”