Blending the exotically ancient and the enticingly modern, booming China is a desirable destination for AGMs and incentives. By Allan Lynch, February 08, 2010
The joke in China is that construction cranes are now the official bird. Everywhere you look, they rise above the skyline as the ever-frenetic pace of growth and business continues in this Asian tiger. The crane is another symbol of how shockingly modern China’s cities are. Joanne Keating, special projects manager for Meridican Incentive Consultants, who visited Shanghai in April, 2009, says, “It’s such a futuristic city, I felt like I was in The Jetsons.”
Po Lin Monastery
Another fast-paced destination is Hong Kong. Its highrise-lined harbour is only minutes away from sandy beaches, golf courses and tennis clubs to rival the Caribbean. Groups can visit mystical, incense-filled temples and ride a cable car to the top of a heavily forested mountain to lunch at the Po Lin Monastery under the gaze of the world’s largest seated Buddha. And there’s even a small village with teahouse and theatres available for exclusive hire.
China has always been and continues to be a place of superlatives: largest population, longest wall, oldest civilization. Even Beijing Capital International Airport’s Terminal Three is two miles long. That’s what makes China such a desirable destination for business, AGMs and incentives.
If you’re a company or a trade group, you need to meet and understand the competition. If you’re a trade association, China is a rich picking ground for new memberships.
Martine Coutu, executive director of the Montreal based Société Internationale d’Urologie (SIU), is organizing her group’s 30th world congress, in Shanghai, in November, 2009. The four-day congress will bring together 3,500 urologists from around the world. “In China, there are 14,000 urologists, and only a small portion are members of our society.” So her organization is hoping to learn from, inspire and connect with potential new members.
It’s also China’s yin and yang that adds such diverse flavour and interest. In the length of a block, you can travel though a thousand years of history.
At Beijing’s centre is the golden-roofed Forbidden City, surrounded by old imperial neighbourhoods comprised of Hutongs, the homes for members of the court. These are ringed by architecturally edgy modern high-rises and office towers.
Face To Face
In this country, personal relationships mean a lot, which is why face-to-face meetings are so important. China is open to Canada — but we still need a visa (and if you travel to or via Hong Kong, you need a multi-entry visa).
Keating says, “The allure of China is that it’s a destination not many people have been to. In the incentive industry, we’re still looking for that ‘wow’ factor and China offers that. The only downside is that it is a very long flight. It would be nice if your top achievers could go business class.”
Cathay Pacific, which flies non-stop to Hong Kong from Toronto and Vancouver, will greet business class guests by name throughout the flight, offer fresh meals prepared in-flight and let guests while away the hours under a thick down duvet on their lie-flat seats enjoying 100 movies, 350 television shows, games and music.
At the Beijing airport, The Ritz-Carlton offers a VIP service which greets guests at the gate, escorts them to customs, then takes them on a five-minute ride to pick up luggage and onto awaiting vehicles. They offer a similar service for departures.
— Allan Lynch is a New Minas, N.S.-based freelance writer.