Event venues are
also judged by their “soft factors”. The Hong Kong
Convention and Exhibition Centre has achieved a lot in this area over the last
If you want to achieve something, you need to be flexible and think outside
the box. Because organisers urgently required more space, the Hong Kong
Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) now simply transforms car park areas
into exhibition spaces whenever required. “The car park conversion made
an extra 6,996 square metres available for those really big shows at the
HKCEC,” explains Monica Lee-Müller, Managing Director of the HKCEC’s operating
company HML. This space first came into use in April 2006 and is now known as
the “dual-purpose” Expo Drive Hall. Although these exhibition capacities are
only used temporarily, exhibitors don’t need to do without the usual amenities
such as easy escalator access, a comfortable lobby, relaxing lighting and air
conditioning systems. The latest in data communications technology is available
– just like in other parts of the HKCEC, where the technology is continuously
adapted to the latest standards. This includes both Internet broadband and
wireless connections – 5,000 users will be able to use the free wifi network
simultaneously there as of autumn 2013.
Despite going wireless, the HKCEC still remains wired to the customer. “We
treat every client as unique,” Monica Lee-Müller affirms her policy. To get
first hand customer feedback, two e-questionnaires are sent to organisers: “One
is sent out right after the venue booking is contracted,” explains the HKCEC
boss. “And another after the event is completed.” Areas being evaluated include
the booking process, on-site customer service, security arrangements, technical
equipment, cleanliness, and food and beverage service. Every e-questionnaire is
shared with senior management. This is to identify jobs well done as well as
service gaps or necessary facility upgrade and staff training measures. The
questionnaires are really worthwhile, for fiscal 2012/13 Monica Lee-Müller
achieved a customer satisfaction rate of 98 per cent.
Food and beverages are a fundamental factor of customer satisfaction – according
to the motto that the way to a customer’s heart is through their stomach. Unlike
other exhibition and convention centre operators, the HKCEC has not outsourced
its catering to external service providers.
“We have our own 300-staff in-house F&B team,” points out Monica Lee-Müller. “With award-winning chefs, experienced service staff and professional event managers to assist organisers in planning banquet events.” Event organisers not only hold gala dinners and cocktail receptions. They also have the opportunity to offer something creative and extraordinary, which is not to be underestimated for recurrent exhibitions. “Our chefs use their creativity and trendy ingredients,” says Lee-Müller, “to offer guests a different experience every time.”
To gain additional returns for the HKCEC, first incentive schemes were
created for organisers just one and a half decades ago. For example, organisers
can enjoy attractive terms if they hold their events in the less-frequented low
season. New exhibitions and the expansion of current fairs are also encouraged.
The increase in these measures has definitely contributed to the strong growth
of the exhibition and convention business at Victoria Harbour.
Every year 50 organisers have recently staged 115 fairs and exhibitions at the Hong
Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Since its opening in 1988 it has hosted
a total of 42,000 events and attracted over 80 million visitors. Plus: The
constantly growing community can now communicate in social networks and click
“like ”– since 2013 the HKCEC has had its own fan page on Facebook.
Intensive communication is also key internally among staff members. This is part of the company’s culture. “We have established various communication channels,” reports Monica Lee-Müller. She cites the Chit Chat Talk programme as an example, where “directors talk to different staff groupings,”. Further communication media include a monthly e-newsletter and the iKnowledge download. The latter comprises various websites and videos on the Intranet. For the HKCEC nurturing employee skills by various training and education measures is a top priority. In addition, a programme has been developed to give senior staff feedback on their leadership skills and management qualities. This work in the soft skill department will enable the venue, which has just turned 25, to weather all storms both now and in future. Just like its curved roof withstands the typhoons that arrive every summer (www.hkcec.com).
Author: Peter Borstel
This article was published in TFI issue 5/2013
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