A more affordable Hong Kong If mainstream convention centres are too expensive, consider unique ones such as the Jao Tsung-I Academy which has spaces for rent accommodation relief for “secondary meeting delegates”, opined Connexus Travel’s managing director, Gloria Slethaug, who defined this segment of attendees as students or attendees from “lower income” countries. Slethaug noted that most associa- Destination China’s general manager, tions tended not to include mid-scale Gunther Homerlein, said that while these hotels in their official accommodation properties are not in prime locations options, out of consideration of event – such as within walking distance of brand positioning. “Fortunately, more convention centres – they offer cost-con- association chiefs and meeting planners scious meeting delegates more affordable are now willing to exercise flexibility accommodation options that are still sup- and be innovative with options to offset ported by Hong Kong’s convenient public pricier operating costs. transport system. “For instance, planners are now While a good Destination Management using technology to replace printed Company (DMC) would help associations materials and signage, reducing the du- secure better rates from suppliers, Ivy ration of meetings and plenary sessions, Sung, managing director of Faces of Hong simplifying menus and have more dine- Kong, said the growing supply of mid- arounds to improve attendees’ network- scale hotels has helped to generate more ing opportunities – all of which help to competitive rates in the marketplace. cut operating costs,” she said. “As well, with the decrease in visitor- What mid-scale hotels cannot do ship from China, hotels and meeting ven- though, is to provide meeting venues ues here in Hong Kong are working harder for cost-conscious associations. to (get business from elsewhere), Sung Momentous Asia Travel & Events added, painting a pro-buyer scenario. general manager, Doris Lam, said “only Mid-scale hotels also provide critical five-star hotels or Hong Kong Conven- The growing supply of mid-scale hotels and unique venues is helping Hong Kong to finally be more approachable for association events. By Prudence Lui W hen consultancy Mercer sought to rank Asia’s most expensive city for expatri- ates, based on the costs of 200 common expenses, including accommodation, transport, clothes, food, entertainment and gas, it found Hong Kong topping the annual list in 2018. Hong Kong’s reputation as an expen- sive city for business travel and activities is nothing new. But what is refreshing is change creeping into place, as the grow- ing presence of mid-scale hotels, interest- ing off-site venues and catering suppliers make the destination more affordable. In recent years, Hong Kong has welcomed a slew of homegrown and in- ternational mid-tier hotel brands such as Hotel COZi, Penta, Holiday Inn Express, Dorsett and Hilton Garden Inn. These are scattered around downtown and the New Territories.