A private grouping of Hong Kong’s luxury hotel companies, formed late-2019 to combat business challenges presented by the destination’s prolonged social unrest, is realising a greater purpose now, as the tourism industry continues to be battered now by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Heritage Tourism Brands private sector group is said to be the first of its kind in Hong Kong. It is made up of companies based in the city such as Rosewood Hotel Group, The Peninsula Hotels, Swire Group, Langham Hospitality Group, Niccolo Hotels and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, with the support of Cathay Pacific Airways.
According to chairman Jennifer Cronin, who is also president of Wharf Hotels, the Heritage Tourism Brands group now provides an important platform for members to share challenges they face and best practice solutions that will reposition Hong Kong’s reputation regionally and internationally.
Cronin credited the creation of the group to Peter Borer, COO of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels.
Heritage Tourism Brands is supported by a marketing sub-committee which is led by branding experts from different member companies who are now working with an agency to develop creative concepts.
“Apart from working with the Hong Kong Hotel Association and Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, the group is also a member of Hong Kong Tourism Board’s Recovery Task Force. Our voice is heard and we help drive creative marketing campaign ideas,” shared Cronin.
She explained that a collaborative approach is critical for recovery, a concept similarly emphasised by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
Members are sharing knowledge, initiatives, strategy and even contacts which were previously protected information, and collectively the group is consulting the WTTC for support to guide the Hong Kong government on tourism relief packages.
Pierre Barthes, general manager of Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong and area vice president, operations for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, told TTG Asia that he and his team are planning “to collaborate with our partners by pooling expertise as well as resources to share curated content and insights that will inspire travellers to visit Hong Kong”.
Heritage Tourism Brands is also working to secure additional government assistance, such as salary subsidies and tax relief.
Borer said that while members come in with different corporate culture, everyone shares a common love for Hong Kong and “we believe in her future”.
“I believe we are stronger working together as an industry rather than working against each other as competitors fighting for every dollar. We bring together hospitality and marketing expertise, and contribute some of the best talents in our city. We are all learning from each other and we have formed friendships and partnerships that I hope will last for a long time to come,” he added.
”While Covid-19 is the worst crisis we have ever faced, I am confident we will get through this if we put the right measures in place and work together – but we have to act fast and this is something we are trying to convince government,” said Borer.
“I am representing the owners and majority shareholders of The Peninsula Hotels, the Kadoorie Family, who have been in Hong Kong for four generations. We ensure their business philosophies and corporate culture are represented and shared with the government. These views are generally shared by all the owners in Hong Kong who have invested billions of dollars in the city over hundreds of years,” he said.