香港该提升形象了 / Hong Kong Needs to Up Its Game

香港该提升形象了

香港经济很大程度上依赖于中国内地的经济、贸易和投资流入。近几年,内地高消费游客大批涌入香港,对高端奢侈品的购买也出现了井喷,使香港获益颇丰。

这种现象不仅为企业高管、经济学家和政府官员所熟知,任何看电视、读报纸或是上网的人也都有目共睹。

几周之前,一段香港导游辱骂购物消费不足的大陆旅行团员的录像激起了人们的极大愤慨。

这位饱受争议的年轻女士先是成为公众口诛笔伐的靶子,随后却又争取到一部分同情分,因为她向媒体解释,她的收入百分之百都要依靠旅游团的购物提成(也就是说她的基本工资或福利为零。)

低端旅行团的组织者常常以超低的团费吸引游客入团,然后指望通过带团去有“合作”关系的商店和餐厅消费来赚取实际收入。

不管是不是零工资,这位年轻导游的态度恶劣,令人反感,难以接受。但问题的关键还不在于此。

其实,最大的失误来自于旅行社管理方及其合作单位的态度和方法,正是由于他们的狼狈为奸才构成了对大陆游客的欺诈。这早就不是什么新鲜事儿,也不是最近才揭开的内幕,它一直都存在着。现在,香港旅游业是有必要立即重新审视一番自己的行为方式了。

这怎么能成为一个发展香港旅游业、从其最大潜在市场中创收的负责任的长久之计呢?这是一种非常短视的行为,注定会引发消费者的强烈抵触,而且已经显露出多种明确的迹象。

在2008年至2009年金融危机最严重的时候,香港和中国内地成为了国际奢侈品企业最肥沃的绿洲。与之形成鲜明对比的是,日本及北美市场总体的销售出现了下滑态势,欧洲的销量几近于零。而中国、巴西和印度却独放异彩,尤其是中国俨然成为最大的亮点。2009年,范思哲放弃已经经营了30多年的日本市场,关闭了其在日本的门店。

同年,中国内地和香港的奢侈品经销商却报告销售额上涨了30%。而一直以来,香港的奢侈品零售店比大陆城市更具有价格优势。

在中国发展奢侈品牌,特别是那些全资的品牌专卖店,最主要的制约因素就是缺乏开办新店的理想场所。店面的选址必须与品牌的质量和形象相匹配,地理位置、周边商户等也要门当户对,同样重要的还有装修设计、家具陈设也要保持一致。

了解到该行业对零售店的设计水准和施工质量要求之高,自然也就会推测他们对店员的遴选和培训也必定是格外用心。但我的亲身经历告诉我,这一点目前他们在中国大陆做得比香港要好。

最近就有一个例子可以证明我的观点。7月,我太太在香港中环的一间商店买了些东西。这家商店位于香港著名的高档购物中心置地广场内,是一个国际著名奢侈品牌的专卖店(品牌的英文共有5个字母,打头字母不是“Z”)。和其他同类商店一样,来这里花大钱的多是内地客人。

店员是位年轻的香港女士,大约二、三十岁的样子。我太太因为要在现场等候对购买物品稍作修改,就和店员随口闲聊起来,言中提及自己第二天马上要去北京。

这位店员说她从没去过北京,我太太就建议她最近真该抽时间去一趟。

“好的, 我一定会去的。”这位高端奢侈品销售员回答道,然后她接着问:“北京现在的天气怎么样?是冬天吗?”

额滴神!

要知道,近来每天香港报纸都会报道北京今夏破纪录的高温天气。

如果香港的奢侈品店找不到知道北京并非北极熊或企鹅常驻地的员工,那就最好扩大一下员工的培训范围,消灭这种无知现象。抓紧吧。

Hong Kong Needs to Up Its Game

The Hong Kong economy is heavily dependent on the economy, trade and investment flows of the Chinese mainland. In recent years Hong Kong has benefited from a huge surge in higher-spending tourist visitors from the mainland, as well as a significant rise in mainlanders buying high-end luxury property in Hong Kong.

All of these facts are not only well-known to business executives, economists, and government officials, but to anyone who watches TV, reads newspapers, or gets their news online in Hong Kong.

A few weeks back there was a firestorm of outrage at the video clip of a Hong Kong tour guide who verbally abused her mainland tour group for not spending enough money on shopping.

The young lady in question, first an object of public scorn, later won some sympathy points by facing the media and explaining that her income is 100% dependent on the tour group’s shopping expenditures (ie she gets zero basic salary or benefits).

Low-end tour group organizers charge rock-bottom prices to join the tour, and then aim to generate the real income from the retail spending of the tour group members, who are led to “cooperating” retail shops and restaurants.

Zero salary or not, the young tour guide’s attitude was rude, obnoxious and unacceptable; but that’s not the main point.

What’s most at fault is the attitude and approach of the management of the tour organizing companies and their business partners, which in effect conspire to fleece tour visitors from the mainland. This is not a new or recently uncovered problem, yet it persists. The Hong Kong tourism industry needs to urgently rethink its approach.

How can this possibly be a responsible and sustainable approach to developing Hong Kong’s tourism industry and revenues from its single biggest potential market? It’s very short-sighted and guaranteed to produce a consumer backlash, which there are already multiple, clear signs of.

During the financial crisis which peaked in 2008-2009, Hong Kong and China were the most fertile oasis on a worldwide basis for luxury brand companies. By contrast, Japanese and North American sales were generally down, and European sales were flat to down. China, Brazil and India were the bright spots, with China by far the brightest. In 2009, Versace gave up on the Japanese market after a run of some 30 years, closing up shop.

During the same year, leading luxury brand marketers reported sales revenue growth in China/Hong Kong in the range of 30%. Hong Kong retailers of luxury brand goods have traditionally enjoyed a competitive edge on pricing as compared with outlets within mainland cities.

A major constraint to growth in China among luxury brand companies, especially for those who depend on wholly-owned retail outlets, is the availability of suitable quality retail space in which to open new stores. Premises have to be in line with the quality and image of the brand, as do the locations, the neighborhood environment, etc.; and then the interior design, furnishing and fittings have to be in line as well.

Knowing how much attention companies in this sector pay to the quality of design and finishing of their retail stores, one would assume they would also pay close attention to the selection and training of their retail staff. My own experience suggests they may now be doing a better job of this in the Chinese mainland than in Hong Kong.

Here’s one recent example to illustrate my point. My wife purchased something in a store in Hong Kong’s Central District during the month of July. The shop, an outlet of a world-famous luxury brand (the English language brand name has five letters but does not begin with “Z”), is located in The Landmark, which is one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious, high-end retail malls. Like others in this category, a high percentage of its big-spending customers are mainlanders.

The sales lady was a young Hong Kong Chinese lady, probably in her late 20s or early 30s. While making casual conversation waiting for the purchased item to be altered on the spot, my wife mentioned she was leaving for Beijing the following day.

The salesperson said she had never been to Beijing. My wife suggested she really must make an effort to get there one of these days.

“Yes, I will” responded the high-end luxury brand sales person, continuing with “What’s the weather in Beijing now? Is it winter there now?”

Wow.

Beijing’s record heat wave this summer has been an item of daily news coverage in Hong Kong, as you would expect.

If Hong Kong luxury brand retailers can’t find staff who know that Beijing is not in the same place as polar bears and penguins, they’d better expand the scope of their training programs to address this level of ignorance. Soon.


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