Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Words of welcome on the morning of the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year.)
Such an amazing time of year to visit China. Surrounded by beautiful red-and-gold decorations and high-spirited locals looking forward to celebrating with their families. theblueballroom flew me to Hong Kong on a new business adventure to learn about the internal communications market there and the challenges Hong Kong based businesses are currently experiencing, and to begin to grow our network and brand awareness.
I'm delighted to report that my trip was a great success. It's clear there is a huge opportunity for a specialist internal communications agency with more than 15 years’ experience to help companies in Asia engage their workforce. We're entering a market at a time when internal communications is well understood by some while others are eager to learn and adopt best practice.
I met a variety of communication and HR professionals in industries such as financial services sector, manufacturing, clothing and fashion, and consumer goods – to name just a few. It was so interesting to learn about how a different culture affects the way in which messages are received and channels are adopted. Challenges in engaging staff with a new digital tool or at a face-to-face event are issues we hear about all the time at theblueballroom and it was a pleasure to share some bright ideas through our case studies.
We're delighted to be working closely with Cathay Pacific on its reward and recognition, and performance management campaigns. With these projects going from strength to strength, we plan to open an office in Hong Kong and build a strong team on the ground to complement our team in the UK so we can provide a 24-hours-a-day service for our Asia-based clients. A dream that's soon to become a reality.
We have yet to secure office space, so while on my 12-day adventure my desk was wherever suited – a coffee shop, hotel room, corporate office of a potential client, rooftop café with a smoothie or even a trendy bar with a glass of wine at the end of the day. We now have a great network in Hong Kong of corporates, recruiters, publishers and communication associations to boost my marketing plan for 2017. Hong Kong here we come!
My new business adventure was certainly not all work and no play. I made the most of my weekend in Hong Kong by seeking out some natural beauty and shopping hotspots. From sunning myself at Repulse Bay beach to hiking up Lantau Peak, haggling for bargains at Stanley market and rubbing shoulders with the spectacular Big Buddha, I thoroughly enjoyed the sights and consumed a lot of mouth-wateringly good food.
Top tips for Hong Kong visitors:
- Sleeplessness, disorientation, dizziness…all the lovely side effects of the dreaded jetlag. For the first four days of my trip I found the following worked wonders: drink lots of water, plentiful fresh air, start your day with yoga and end it with a guided sleep meditation video on YouTube.
- Taxis are great value and always readily available. Avoid the 4pm–5pm shift switchover period or you'll be waiting a while. Once you hail your taxi, jump in and cut out the small talk. Be direct and clear with the address because additional 'fluffy' pleasantries only confuse the driver.
- Investing in an Octopus card when travelling via the MTR or bus/coach makes the whole process so much quicker than rooting around for exact change. Or for a more scenic route, you can’t beat a ferry ride.
- Where possible, go on foot. You can walk from one side of central Hong Kong to the other in 30 minutes. Hit those 10,000 steps a day with ease!
- For home comforts, CK Café on Hollywood Road do the best English breakfast and traditional tea around.
- The best lunch places are busy 12pm-2pm. Be prepared to squeeze onto a table with strangers – smile, be polite and tuck in!
- Dinner can be pricey when eating solo because the dishes are designed for sharing. When you can, invite people to dine with you or, failing that, fill your boots! When you want to have a cosy evening in with a movie, Deliveroo it.
- Say 'thank-you' (m̀hgòi) after a taxi ride or a lovely meal. Getting that taxi driver to crack a smile at your efforts is heart-warming!
I feel very grateful to have an amazing team supporting me as well as friends and family wishing me well. Twelve days and 5,977 miles away and 8 hours ahead of the UK, I never felt alone during my trip. I could keep connected to share news and discuss experiences - social media at its best.
I had a lovely card from Sophie, our Content & Account Manager, that included the AA Milne quote “Remember you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” This quote stayed with me throughout my adventure and kept me in a positive and confident mindset. I have tackled long-haul solo travel, met new people, and experienced a new culture, and feel I could now jump on a plane to anywhere in the world and be just fine. In fact, better than fine. Brave, strong and smart.