Hong Kong remains a hot destination of choice for Australians and New Zealanders and with more sporting events on the agenda that popularity is set to soar to new heights.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON IN HONG KONG
The Australasian market remains a strong target for Hong Kong’s leading hotels as medium- and long-haul travel continues to pick up in the wake of the GFC and a strong Australian dollar.
On Hong Kong Island, JW Marriott Hotel General Manager Mark Conklin said performance was strong for the 5-star property and the Australian market has played a significant role in that outcome.
“The Hotel and Hong Kong generally has seen dramatic positive growth in overnight visitors compared to last year’s occupancy, particularly after both the economic turmoil as well as the hotel’s own renovation,” he told HM.
“We are optimistic that our hotel’s significant investment and focus on offering the best in 5-star luxury hotel services will continue to strengthen our clientele and new partnerships we developed last year.
“Australia remains an important source market for our Hotel particularly as we see more MICE related group business coming in and around Asia Pacific from the country.
“There are currently 98 flights into Hong Kong a week (from Australia) and at the hotel, we need to focus on delivering the services that our Australian customers anticipate and expect from an exceptional 5-star hotel… as well as work closely with our Australian partners and HKTB to sell our destination.
“We hope to see more travel from Australia from all sectors and segments, and while it is hard to quantify or forecast the potential but the hotel will continue to conduct regular business trips to Australia as well as participate alongside HKTB related tradeshows,” he said.
Marriott International Director, Global Sales (Sydney), Ramesh Daryanani, said the popularity for Hong Kong at present is significant and the rugby Sevens earlier this year was a good indication of just that.
“This year proved to be significantly stronger for us than forecasted with higher occupancies and average rates across all our Hong Kong hotels including the JW Marriott, Renaissance Harbour View, Courtyard by Marriott and Marriott Sky City Airport,” he told HM.
Daryanani said interest was already high, particularly from incentive planners, for the upcoming Bledisloe Cup match between Australia and New Zealand in October.
That is also the case across Hong Kong Harbour at the Langham Place hotel in Mongkok, a property extremely popular for Australians.
Langham Place Mongkok General Manager Shaun Campbell said he was expecting significant bookings, following the success of the event for the hotel when it was last held in 2008.
The expatriate Australian said incentive and group bookings remained strong ex-Australia at present and not just for major sporting events at Hong Kong Stadium.
Campbell also said the property’s casual vibe and new outdoor events space The Backyard were two of the many reasons why Australian companies had booked events at the hotel in recent months.
“The new space is proving to be very popular for visitors to the hotel and specifically to conference guests of ours coming out of Australia,” he said. “We are offering a unique experience here at Langham Place – not only is it a great hotel experience, but being part of wonderful Mongkok, which is that traditional old part of Hong Kong, is a great travel experience in itself.
“By the way of conferencing, we have found the Australian market particularly enjoys the informal style of the Langham Place brand as well as our new facility (The Backyard), which is a large outdoor deck.
“We have had great publicity from the Masterchef (Channel Ten television show) team that came through here last year and they used this space extensively to do some outdoor cooking events and it has given us some great ideas for some themed group events for Australian MICE customers coming to Hong Kong,” he said.
Campbell said he was expecting a strong finish to 2010 from both the MICE and leisure segments ex-Australia and New Zealand.
When guests arrive, they’ll experience one of the most technologically advanced hotels in Asia – and that is a point of difference Langham is gaining further popularity from.
The property, which has been recognized as an art gallery masking as a hotel, is now offering a free roaming iPad service for guests. For more on that story, see Tech Zone on page 62.
HM travelled to Hong Kong with Virgin Atlantic. The airline flies daily to Hong Kong from Sydney and offers three classes of travel – Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy. The author recommends flying in Upper Class, which features an onboard bar, seats that convert to flat beds (the longest of any airline in the sky at 202cm), meals-on-demand, hundreds of entertainment options and limousine transfers to and from the airport. Virgin Atlantic also has a Clubhouse at Hong Kong Airport, which is the perfect escape before your flight home. Visit www.virginatlantic.com.au