The 2010 World Expo will be a platform to promote Shanghai as an international city – one that can bid for, host and manage premier global summits, conferences, exhibitions and sporting events. Indeed, 2010 will be the next big step for a city that has in the past nine years hosted the 2001 APEC Leaders Summit, 2007 Special Olympics, 2007 Women’s World Cup football tournament, the annual Formula One Grand Prix, ATP Masters Cup tennis, X Games Asia and the HSBC Champions golf.
In preparation, Shanghai’s urban landscape is receiving a multi-billion-dollar makeover. A second terminal has opened at Pudong International Airport, and the domestic airport at Hongqiao will be expanded. Meanwhile, testing is underway at the new Shanghai International Cruise Terminal, and a multi-line metro system is under construction. This summer, Shanghai will open the world’s tallest tower, standing at 492 metres, and is commissioning the even higher (580 metres) Shanghai Center tower.
The stage on which the giant 2010 Shanghai promotion will take place is the 5.28 sqkm World Expo Park, currently being built on swathes of land either side of the Huangpu River. The park will feature 200 international pavilions and the 20-metre-high World Expo Harmony Tower, which will recast an old industrial chimney to feature a 50-car roller-coaster winding around the tower.
One consequence is that widespread construction will define Shanghai during the next 18 months, and parts of this city will look less attractive than normal. The riverside Bund is one such area, as a major project is carried out to reroute the eight lanes of traffic that separate the grand Bund mansions from the river into an underground tunnel.
International promotion of the 2010 World Expo has been hereto relatively muted, so as not to conflict with the Beijing Olympics. However, a concerted post-Olympic global push is being prepared, says Patrick Chen, assistant director, International Tourism Promotion, Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration Commission. “We are focusing very much on the image of Shanghai as a destination for corporate and MICE tourism,” he says.
In the past four years, Shanghai’s meetings and events industry has expanded rapidly, boosted by the city’s status as China’s commercial heartbeat, and also by the expansion strategies of retail and lifestyle brands. Indeed, high-profile launch events and fashion showcases are now a key feature of Shanghai’s social scene. “During the peak times last year, there were events and launches happening almost every night,” says Bruno Potier, director of Jetlag Productions, whose clients include Moët & Chandon, Technogym and Grand Marnier. “This year, maybe there are less events, but the quality is rising all the time. Luxury brands, in particular, have seen creativity levels increase, and they have very high expectations now for their events in Shanghai.”
Demand is also having a fluid effect on venue selection. “Everyone is chasing the hot new venue,” says Emmeline Yuen, managing director of Pivot Marketing Services, whose clients include Rado, Royal & Sun Alliance and X Games Asia.
“In the past two years, Suzhou Creek warehouses were very popular, but brands always want to be the first to use an innovative previously unused space.”
New venues are opening to meet these changing demand patterns.
“The Shanghai events scene is still moving fast,” says Stephane de Montgros, director of Riviera Events, which works with clients like Perrier Ricard, M1NT and Lan. “You always have to work hard to keep ahead of developments.”
Shanghai’s service economy remains strongly driven by corporate travel, and this seems unlikely to change in the near future. “We believe that as the overall growth of the Chinese economy continues, the year-on-year growth in the corporate events industry will also continue to rise,” says Oliver Lloyd, director of HLD Events Services, whose clients include American Express, The Fair and Event Gurus. “If anything, this activity may increase, as more companies are now present in China, new products are continually being launched, and affiliated companies are gearing up for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”
As Shanghai’s in-the-works urban blueprint continues to develop, two distinct “cities” have emerged, in Puxi and Pudong – which sit on either side of the Huangpu River.
The old city lies west of the river, and is home to the best dining, nightlife and entertainment, plus the museums and galleries of People’s Square, the upscale restaurants and boutiques along the Bund, the Xintiandi dining and shopping district and Shanghai Exhibition Centre on Nanjing Road. Other venues include the Shanghai Children’s Palace, The Loft, 1933, Shanghai Sculpture Space, Suzhou Creek and Moganshan Lu contemporary art district.
East of the river is Shanghai’s new commercial and financial district. Ten years ago, there was little of note here. Today, it is home to the Jinmao and Shanghai World Financial Center towers (China’s tallest buildings), the vast Shanghai New International Exhibition Centre, Shanghai Science & Technology Museum and the Oriental Arts Center. Longyang Road station is the terminal for the MagLev train – the world’s fastest passenger railway – to and from Pudong Airport.
Shanghai has two airports: Pudong International Airport (PVG – for international routes, Hongkong, Macau and some domestic services), which opened a second terminal in March; and Hongqiao Airport (SHA – mostly for domestic flights, plus some routes to Korea and Japan). Both airports are being further upgraded before 2010.
A pre-arranged visa is required for each visitor to China. There is no visa-on-arrival service.
Shanghai has a variable climate, ranging from intensely hot and humid (June to August) to sub-zero (December to February). The most temperate months are March to May and September to November.
Mandarin is the official language, though English is spoken in business hotels, tourism and events venues, bars and restaurants.
2010 World Expo
For more information, visit the official website at: http://en.expo2010china.com
Shanghai World Financial Center
Opening in late July 2008, the 101-floor, 492m Shanghai World Financial Center tower in Pudong will (until the completion of Dubai’s Burj Tower) be the world’s tallest building. The tower will feature sky-high observatory space between the 94th and 100th floors, including a 94th floor (422m) observation area with floor-ceiling windows and 750sqm of exhibition space, and a spectacular “hanging” 100th floor (472m) viewing corridor with glass ceiling, walls and floor. A conference centre on the third to fifth floors features an open-air roof garden and main ballroom.
Built in 1933, the old Shanghai Abattoir is supreme industrial art – and now an in-demand events venue. Located in Hongkou district, north of the Bund, Asia’s once-busiest slaughterhouse features a striking art deco facade, funicular central section and square outer casing connected by sloping concrete walkways. Extensive renovations have transformed the building into an arts, culture, shopping, dining and entertainment centre that will fully open later in 2008.
The circular, 897-square-metre fifth floor Theatre, designed in raw concrete with a glass-floored plinth stage, has already hosted events by Rado and
Ferrari plus the 2007 Shanghai Creative Industries Week.
Shanghai’s history is closely linked to water – even its name translates as “Above the Sea”. Night cruises along the Huangpu River are a popular option for dining, networking and relaxing after a hard day of meetings – with views of the Bund and neon-lit Pudong skyline. The Portman Ritz-Carlton hotel manages the catering on four luxury cruise boats: the Sheng Rong Guo Ji, Jin Mao Jun Yue, Jin Mao Hai Yue and Luxury Grand Cru. Designed to accommodate between 12 to 250 guests, the cruise boats offer flexible set-up options catering to cocktails, corporate parties, meetings, incentive programmes, product launches and private parties.
Overlooking Shanghai’s second river, Suzhou Creek, this iconic multifunctional seven-floor building has led the way in the ongoing regeneration of a former industrial district in north Shanghai. Housed in a striking red-brick building that was once a flour factory are a contemporary art gallery, lounge bar and three floors of warehouse chic creative events space – which has hosted several hip fashion parties, photo shoots, awards ceremonies, concerts and brand events.
Shanghai’s hotel scene is strongly driven by corporate travel, with much less leisure tourism than competitor Asian cities like Beijing, Hongkong and Singapore. On offer are some fine business hotels, often located in soaring skytowers. Rising demand for rooms, especially during the peak March to May and September to November periods, means rates have risen considerably in recent years.
Choosing the right location is crucial. Travelling between Pudong and Puxi can be time-consuming, especially given Shanghai’s increasing traffic congestion. Event planners should consider the proximity not just to convention centres and business districts, but also transportation times to and from offsite venues.
Size and service are two notable qualities of this premier business hotel. In late 2005, the river-front property opened its US$138-million second tower, adding 375 rooms, a suite of top-class restaurants (including Jade on 36, Nadaman and Yi Café), a signature CHI spa, 10 meeting rooms and a second ballroom – the China Ballroom – which is Shanghai’s largest. Consequently, the hotel offers 6,500sqm of indoor and outdoor event space, enabling it to host large conferences and exhibitions, including Oracle OpenWorld and the Amex China Business Travel Forum. Shangri-La’s street cred increased last summer when basketball superstar Yao Ming held his wedding banquet in the hotel.
Hyatt on the Bund
Opened in 2007, this contemporary-styled, twin-towered luxury property is located in the up-and-coming North Bund area. One tower is dedicated to executive club rooms – although both towers offer superlative river views. The hotel offers a strong suite of F&B options, ranging from the ground-floor Xindalu, a modern Chinese restaurant with individual serving stations and a specially constructed Peking Duck oven, to the Vue on the top floor, which is one of Shanghai’s hottest nighttime venues. The stylish brick-and-wood lounge features an open-air 33rd floor deck terrace – which is available for private events. From here, guests can look straight down the Huangpu River, flanked by the Bund and the neon-lit Pudong skyline.
At the 66-floor Tomorrow Square tower overlooking People’s Square, this excellent meetings hotel is centrally located – and offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama from the 38th-floor lobby. Within walking distance from the entrance are the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Art Museum, Urban Planning Exhibition Centre and Museum of Contemporary Art. Last year, Montblanc held its annual global meeting here and Formula 1 hosted the glamorous post-race Amber Lounge gala. The hotel is one of Shanghai’s leading outsourced catering suppliers for major events, including a recent 2,432-guest annual gala for PricewaterhouseCoopers at the Shanghai International Expo Centre – which required 742 staff.
One of only three hotels to receive the China National Tourism Administration’s Platinum Five-Star award in 2007, this classy property is situated on Nanjing West Road, close to the business districts and evening attractions of Puxi. Its range of meetings spaces includes the Marble Hall Ballroom, a Hospitality Suite and the 991-seat Shanghai Centre Theater. It also works closely with the 18,000-square-metre Russian-built Shanghai Exhibition Center located across the street, and has catered for several major Shanghai events, including the annual HSBC Champions Golf tournament. Currently undergoing renovations, the hotel will open (from mid-2008) a new 500-sqm Presidential Suite, the largest in Shanghai.
This new 26-room boutique property is promoting itself as China’s first carbon-neutral hotel. Located in a former post office building, it has been constructed and designed using reclaimed natural materials, such as grey bricks, slate and mahogany from across Shanghai. The effect is stunning, with internal bamboo gardens, hemp-matted corridors and sloping interior walls. For small groups, the hotel offers unique event spaces, including a small private boardroom, two penthouses with access to a spacious garden deck with fine views over old Shanghai lane neighbourhoods and the excellent room twenty eight restaurants, which has been used for fashion showcases and media events. The slate and bamboo courtyard with small fountains offers a becalming space for enterprising event planners.
New Hotel Openings
Several new hotels will open across Shanghai ahead of the 2010 World Expo. These include both business and leisure-focused luxury properties. Slated openings in Pudong include Park Hyatt, Four Seasons, W, Gran Melia and Ritz-Carlton. Puxi will welcome Jumeirah and Conrad (both in Xintiandi), Peninsula, Fairmont Peace Hotel and Aman (all on the Bund), Banyan Tree (North Bund), Mandarin Oriental, Jing’an Shangri-La, Kempinski and Langham Yangtze.
With offices in four Australian cities and Shanghai, Offsite is a major player in developing bespoke programmes for inbound incentives and corporate events in Shanghai, Beijing and other China locations.
Creative Event Agency with offices in Shanghai and Sydney. It specialises in all creative and management aspects of incentives, conferences and special events across Asia-Pacific.
Creative Shanghai-based firm with events experience in 14 Chinese cities. Specialises in lifestyle and fashion branded events and corporate galas. Key strengths include interactive installations, stage design, animation, music and entertainment and video production.
Shanghai-based specialists in innovative nightlife events, launch and brand promotions, from concept planning, theming, decoration and entertainment to managing English- and Chinese-language media.
Shanghai-based firm offering a broad portfolio of tailored corporate events, exhibition management, corporate travel and PR services, both for inbound and China-located companies.
Based in Shanghai, Pivot Marketing was set up by two former Octagon employees, and specialises in all aspects of event management, event marketing and brand roadshows for MNC clients in destinations across China.