Hong Kong Opinions

Hong Kong must develop ‘new’ hospitality model to win back business

Darren Chuckry says industry professionals need to showcase the spirit of Hong Kong in a positive way.

Hong Kong needs to start taking specific actions that help to connect people and engage with each other and build a new Hong Kong Bridge that helps to close the huge gap we are facing now.

Small actions can make a big difference in helping to connect diverse groups along a similar path. The hospitality and events industry can play a bigger role by actively taking action within communities and across the city to learn the city better themselves.

Everybody in the hospitality industry should be able to answer basic questions about the city, its history and amenities offered.

Hotels should be making deals with local restaurants and businesses so they can help promote and build a unique experience for tourists and visitors. Focus not only on your property, but on the city overall. All hospitality employees should be encouraged and rewarded for actively pursuing interests and local activities outside their current job.

Engage visitors in new ways

We must showcase the professionalism and spirit of Hong Kong in a positive way. I believe Hong Kong needs to develop a ‘new’ hospitality  or customer service model for the city. We need to get better at welcoming all visitors to our Gateway city. Many times staff who are greeting guests globally are not smiling, friendly or have a full understanding of what the visitors might ask.

The front of house employees need to be excited to meet and help international guests no matter what their race, religion or gender. We need to equip them with the right training and tools to make sure that we have a pathway for their success. A ‘we care’ philosophy goes a long way to impress visitors.

Focus not only on your property, but on the city overall.

Great customer service takes a lot of dedication, hard work and training. This needs to be led by the top executives and managed all the way through the process and have all employees engaged along the way.

The road to recovery

Destinations that have bounced back quickly after major disruptions, often have teams on the ground who comfort visitors and make them feel safe.

One of the most important elements of bouncing back quickly is to have clear, open, honest and transparent communication. Even though most people are pre-occupied with the challenges facing the city right now, we also need teams of people who are moving forward to plan for future activities. This is the perfect time to mobilise the right teams and create departments or units that are specifically set-up around helping to bring back the city.

This should include setting up an Entertainment and Events Association that can make it easy for outside companies and event planners to look to Hong Kong as a great destination. Currently our permitting process is very difficult and not designed to be streamlined, similar to other cities. By setting up these strategic units or teams we should focus on bringing the stories of greatness and our unique culture back to life.

We should also be setting up unique fam trips from companies and visitors across the world. Bring them to Hong Kong and show them the wonders we possess. This is the perfect time to be offering amazing travel packages, Don’t try to hide the bad, but show them the best of what Hong Kong can offer – while making sure we take care of them along the way.

And when it comes to crisis communication…

Proactiveness, transparency and trust are the critical components for winning back confidence. The more you hide and don’t discuss the elephant in the room you will not convince anybody of anything. We must admit to challenges faced and showcase the best from what we can offer and take definitive action steps in moving forward.

Darren Chuckry is chair of The Marketing Society Hong Kong, and Asia-Pacific regional VP for PCMA.