Hong Kong is a major tourism destination and potentially the next big hub for travel startups. With the travel & tourism industry gaining momentum fast in the region, businesses are increasingly shifting their focus on specific industry segments and defining their niche. Events like ITE and MICE offer the travel brands an opportunity to connect with the right audience and open up the possibilities for new business associations. We spoke with Mr. K.S.Tong, Managing Director, TKS Exhibition Services, the organizer of ITE & MICE to learn more about the event. Here is an excerpt from the conversation:
What changes have you observed in the nature of exhibitors over the previous events?
Majority of our exhibitors co-exhibiting in official pavilion, and they include travel agents, hotels and resorts etc. It seems change is less in profile than in the purposes and strategies!
More are exhibiting independently, especially among those who also conduct direct sale to FIT and mass promotions in public days of ITE in addition to channel sale and trade promotions in trade days. FIT is getting more popular especially among the well off, and FIT contributing an increasingly larger share of business to the travel trade. Of course, there remain significant numbers of exhibitor focusing only on trade days but the growth of interest on FIT has been gathering speed.
Growing popularity of traveling in FIT shall not be considered as all loss for travel agents, as interestingly our survey found 39 of public visitors have booked FIT products with travel agents, though much smaller than the 71% online.
Also, more exhibitors promote theme travels, which are popular with both trade and public visitors. Our latest survey found 65% of the public visitors interested in two or more travel themes, and the table below summarizes the findings.
|Themes / Visitor||Driving Tour||Study Tour||Eco|
|Overseas Wedding||Wellness & Medical||Sport||Cruise||Travel Photography|
* Question not included in trade visitor survey
What industry segment brings the most participation to the event?
The three largest groups of trade visitors, who total 11874 with 25% from abroad, are respectively Agents / Operators at 52%, MICE and Corporations at 21% and Media at 8%. The three largest exhibiting segments are Travel Agents and Operators, Tourism Boards and Organizations, and Hotel & Accommodation.
What opportunities do you think the event holds for the participants?
ITE & MICE offers participants opportunities just like other established trade fairs and public fairs, but more. There are separate days for trade and public visitors, and admission in trade days requires registration with business cards, so ITE & MICE is really two fairs in one venue.
Instead of covering every opportunity possible, let us focus on one case which demonstrates FIT business commensurate well or even stimulate channel sales. Promoting mainly aurora tour, this independent exhibitor comes from way north and east of Hong Kong. Judging from the number of attendees in its public seminars and ads by travel agents locally in different years, we can say this exhibitor got good responses with FIT in early years but lately getting good channel sales too. It still exhibits in ITE & MICE, and conducts its own public seminars, which draw well over 200 audiences in one session.
We heard one explanation. When the early FIT returning from their aurora trips, they posed photo on web, facebook and they talk. Yes, the word of mouth activities, then sooner or later may generates enquiry at travel agents and stimulate their interest to stage such tours.
For your info, public visitors who total 78000 are well educated (45% university & 24% post-secondary) and traveled frequently (65% traveled two to four times & 15% five times or more in past 12 months). They are likely opinion leaders on travel among friends and relatives.
The region is emerging as a favourable destination for tech startups. What do you think is the prime driving factor?
For tech startups, in my view, the prime driving factor is the market or the adoption of tech products by the public which can be greatly facilitated by education. It is common among Hong Kong senior citizens like our public visitors who are educated to use WhatsApp and Facebook etc in their mobiles. Also, Hong Kong is a wealthy society so many citizens can afford new tech products.
With so many promising travel tech startups coming up, how do you plan to attract more young entrepreneurs to be a part of the future events?
We are already seeing more travel tech exhibitors, and we have also been working with related organizations to promote theme travels, through special displays, demos & seminars etc, some of which can be well served by new tech products. For example, portal on sport tourism and apps on hiking in Hong Kong, etc!
TKS will be hosting the ITE and MICE 2016 in June this year. The event will be open for trade visitors on June 16 and 17, 2016 while it will be open for public on June 18 and 19, 2016. You can find more details here.
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