New ownership to propel Swire Travel’s foray into China

The recent transfer of Swire Travel’s shareholdings to JMI Global – which is wholly owned by Kong Jianmin, the founder and chairman of KWG Property Holding – is expected to help the 69-year-old agency and TMC bring its corporate travel expertise to mainland China.
Gloria Slethaug, who succeeded Andrew Leung as the company’s managing director since January 1, said: “The new ownership under Kong brings a lot of synergy to Swire Travel, thanks to KWG’s strong base in Guangzhou. KWG owns residential and commercial projects like hotels (W Guangzhou and Four Points by Sheraton Guangzhou), apartments, malls and offices.
Gloria Slethaug

“KWG has a small inbound travel business in Guangzhou and hence looks for experienced hands like Swire Travel,” she added.

The company is eyeing penetration into China’s main and secondary cites where there exists “a lot of unstructured corporate travel management for SMEs or larger corporations,” she explained.

The strategy for 2017 remains focused on Swire’s corporate travel core. “We will leverage KWG’s network and local expertise to build up Great Bay Area (Hong Kong-Macau-Guangdong) business for us, strengthening corporate business as a whole.”

Adapting and diversifying, including in its leisure segment, will also be key. In response to a declining preference for standard packages, the company has started building more itineraries on private tour basis.

“We’ll also implement a B2C platform for our leisure clients who want point-to-point dynamic packages. It will soft launch this month.”

Slethaug said transition in the past five months has been smooth as all staff are retained. A Greater China MICE team was set up, headed by Eva Lai who also heads the Shanghai and Beijing branches.

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