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President Higgins plants the legendary city of Hangzhou on Ireland’s map of China

Why President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit includes the dynamic metropolis of Hangzhou.

The most beautiful city in China

In the 13th century Marco Polo is said to have described Hangzhou, which is situated in east China along the Qiantang River, as “the city of heaven, the most magnificent in the world”.

While many of the world’s metropolises can also be portrayed as magnificent, Hangzhou, the largest city in Zhejiang province, and one of China’s seven ancient capitals, is beyond doubt one of China’s most eye-catching and affluent cities.

With a GDP per capita of over €12,200 and a population of 8.8 million people, Hangzhou is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

One of the most picturesque wonders of China, the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the tranquil West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.

Grand canal, West Lake Cultural Square, Hangzhou

Grand Canal, West Lake Cultural Square, Hangzhou

Equally breath-taking is the Grand Canal, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June this year. Dating back to the 6th century and stretching 1,776 kilometres (1,104 miles) from the southern terminus of Hangzhou north to Beijing, the Grand Canal is the oldest and longest man-made waterway in the world, at least 10 times the length of the Suez Canal and 23 times that of the Panama Canal.

Another symbol of the city is the sight of one of China’s most spectacular natural phenomena, the roaring Qiantang River tidal bore, or Silver Dragon, the world’s largest tidal bore that rising to a height of as much 12 metres (40 feet) rolls upstream every September.

That Hangzhou is also the capital of China’s national drink, tea – its celebrated West Lake LongJing, or “Dragon Well”, green tea, consistently ranking first among China Top 10 leading teas – and home to one of the largest and wealthiest Buddhist temples in China, the stunning Lingyin Temple with a history stretching back 1,600 years, it is no wonder that Hangzhou’s tourism industry caters for upwards of 93.16 million visitors a year.

Beauty and business go hand in hand

On Friday 12th December, on his first state visit to China as a guest of President Xi Jinping, President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland will take a 45 minutes journey on the Shanghai–Hangzhou High-Speed Railway aboard the ‘Harmony’ train. Not only symbolic of China’s rapid technological advancement – the 202 kilometres (126 miles) long line, designed for commercial train service at 350 km/h (217 mph) was built in 20 months – the trip is an explicit induction to the vibrant city of Hangzhou with its strong culture of innovation.

The city has strong economic growth of 8%, a business-friendly and farsighted government, an abundance of research and development facilities, and proximity to business professionals throughout the Yangtze River Delta, all of which have contributed to Hangzhou’s recognition as both the capital of China’s online industry, and a celebrated hub of entrepreneurship.

A study published last August by Spear’s (in association with leading wealth consultancy company WealthInsight source: http://www.spearswms.com/news/new-data-reveals-where-the-worlds-billionaires-are-born-4345872#.VA0nMEi5_Mlhttp:// ) ranks Hangzhou 15th of the top 25 global cities “where billionaires are born”, the city being home to six billionaires, all of whom are self-made.

West Lake Sunset, Hangzhou

West Lake Sunset, Hangzhou

Nobody typifies the new breed of Chinese entrepreneurship in a global era more than former Hangzhou-born school teacher Jack Ma, now China’s wealthiest man, who as the Founder and Executive Chairman of Hangzhou-based E-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group – arguably the world’s largest online and mobile company – leads a group of companies that reached a market value of €188 billion in September 2014. More than at any other of his meetings with China’s political elite, it is likely that at his meeting with Mr. Ma, President Higgins, who will be accompanied by Ireland’s Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, will come to truly appreciate the intrepid, confident, innovative consumerist spirit that makes China an essential market for Irish goods and services exports.

China’s ‘Silicon Valley’, Hangzhou is the stronghold from where Mr. Ma and his colleagues direct the online revolution that is turning China’s retail industry on its head: On the 11th November 2014 Alibaba’s Tmall business-to-consumer platform, an increasingly important platform for foreign retailers to penetrate China, ‘Singles Day’ online retail event achieved sales of around €7.6 billion. They are also plotting Alibaba’s expansion to become a truly global company. Investments in Europe and the USA beckon.

Twenty-seven years ago, when Zong Qinghou, a native of Zhejiang province, was 42, he made his living selling soft drinks and ice cream to schoolchildren in Hangzhou. Today, according to Forbes, Mr. Zong, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hangzhou Wahaha, China’s leading beverage company that employs over 60,000 people and has over 64 manufacturing facilities, or  “China’s drinks king”, is reputed to have a personal fortune of €9 billion making him the sixth wealthiest person in China.

Consistently topping the World Bank’s list of Chinese cities with the best investment climate, and rated by Forbes as one of the top 10 cities on the mainland for doing business, at the end of 2013 there were more than 12,000 foreign direct investment companies operating in Hangzhou while foreign investment surpassed €4.2 billion. Moreover, the city’s total foreign trade volume was almost €50 billion.

80,000 free bicycles, 2,000 electric public buses and 500 electric taxis

Maintaining Hangzhou’s advantage as a great place to do business in constantly requires improving the living environment and quality of life of its residents and visitors, an obligation that does not come without its challenges.

No challenge is more taxing then tackling the ecological problems associated with administering China’s 10th most populated city, and one of the most visited tourist cities in the world, not to mention the country’s deteriorating air quality and ecological environment.

For instance, with well over two million private cars on its roads, making it the second worst traffic congested of any major city in China, Hangzhou’s Leadership has taken a serious attitude on combating the issues by adopting zero-emissions public transportation, namely electric buses and taxis. Last June, in one of the world’s largest all-electric fleets ever ordered, Hangzhou purchased 2,000 long-range, battery-electric transit buses and 1,000 long-range, pure-electric taxi cars from BYD, the Chinese automaker backed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., whose buses have already hit the streets of London and California.

Anybody who believes that bike-sharing is a European transportation phenomenon should set foot in Hangzhou. Recently rated by USA Today as the world’s best public bicycle sharing system, comprising 80,000 free bicycles leased up to 400,000 times a day, Hangzhou Public Bicycle, which was only launched in 2008, is also likely the most extensively utilised bike-sharing scheme, anywhere.

Another ground-breaking project that is a testimony to the vibrancy of Hangzhou’s advancement is its subway system which opened in 2012, following five years of construction. By 2020, the city plans to five subway lines operating at a total length of 200 kilometres (124 miles).

Hangzhou, Silk Capital of China

Hangzhou, Silk Capital of China

Ireland and Hangzhou

For Irish exporters struggling to seize upon the lucrative sales opportunities to be had in what is now arguably the world’s largest economy, Hangzhou provides an ideal foretaste of the extraordinary growth in the purchasing power of China’s increasingly affluent middle classes.

The average price of a new home in Hangzhou is about €2,700 per square metre; with daily flights operated by KLM from Hangzhou to Amsterdam, Paris and London are high on the list of preferred destinations for Hangzhou’s high spending tourists; while Rolls Royce, Maserati, Aston Martin, and Gucci showrooms all report brisk business, doubtless boosted by the scores of millionaires recently created by Alibaba’s September IPO.

As individual prosperity rises, people are becoming increasingly conscious about their health and quality of life. For instance, local demand for imported high-quality food and beverages such as dairy and nutritional food products present significant opportunities for Irish suppliers, as do local government –backed projects actively encouraging fuel efficiency, cleaner water, and better sanitation. There are also considerable opportunities in Hangzhou for services-related exports in the tourism and education sectors. With regard to the latter, 36 tertiary colleges and universities with close to 450,000 students are located in Hangzhou, including China’s second best university, Zhejiang University, one of China’s leading medical schools, Zhejiang Medical University, and the renowned China Academy of Arts, the most influential fine arts academy in China.

The challenges for any Irish exporter entering what is still a relatively immature market are apparent. China’s rapid growth since its 1978 opening to the world has not meant greater transparency. Given that the available market information is generally unreliable or misleading, making sound business decisions can be difficult, while a simple misunderstanding of local business practices can harm efforts to develop solid business relationships. As such there is an inherent need for proximity to the customer base for Irish exporters.

The Irish Exporters Association and Accurate Group, an Ireland China market making consultancy have been on the ground in Hangzhou for close to seven years building strong relationships with key business and Hangzhou government decision-makers. Consequently, Hangzhou’s Leadership, including its Party Secretary and Mayor, has visited Ireland on a regular basis.

President Michael D Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to this fabled city not only is a clear recognition of Hangzhou’s long and illustrious history, it is also a statement acknowledging the potential for extending the hand of trade and friendship between Ireland and Hangzhou, a new gateway for Irish business into China.

For more information about President Higgins of Ireland’s State Visit to China click on the following YouTube video-clip:

– By Niall O’Reilly

Source: http://accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=bpe1QYxRz6M=

Niall O’Reilly, Managing Director of Accurate Group, China Market Makers, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association, has been based in Hangzhou since 2007.

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group – Ireland China Market Makers

Website: For more ‘Accurate China Insights’ click  http://www.accuratelimited.com/blog.php

Twitter: @AccurateChina – China: The Ireland Angle

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Group, Dublin – O: +353-1 271-1830

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Creating a new international tourism slogan for the city of Hangzhou

Accurate Group – Hangzhou Tourism Commission Briefing Document

Topic:            ‘The key elements of a city slogan’ – Hangzhou Tourism Commission Brand / Slogan Seminar
Speaker:       Niall O’Reilly, Managing Director Accurate Group Limited (Niall@accuratelimited.com)
Location:       2 Floor, Zhangming Music Library, Hangzhou West Lake 6th Park
Date:              20th February 2014

Dear ……

Thank you for inviting me here today.  I am Niall O’Reilly, Managing Director of Accurate GroupChina Market Makers –, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association. This is my 25th year in China, the last 8 years of which I have been based in Hangzhou.  Previously I have been responsible for Asia Pacific marketing for two leading USA-based multi-nationals. One of the Asia Pacific marketing campaigns I directed with global advertising agency BBDO won a gold medal at the Malaysia advertising awards.

How to capture the appeal of Hangzhou in one slogan? Read the tea leaves - Hangzhou's Longing (Dragon Well) Tea

How to capture the appeal of Hangzhou in one slogan? Read the tea leaves – Hangzhou’s Longing (Dragon Well) Tea

Impressions of Hangzhou’s Tourism Product

Hangzhou has enormous foreign tourism potential.

  • Some 4 million foreign tourists visited Hangzhou in 2012.
  • Cathay Pacific / Dragonair (Hong Kong), Qatar Airways (Middle East), Ethiopian Airlines (Africa), KLM / Air France (Europe), EVA Air (Taiwan), ANA (Japan) and Asiana Airlines (Korea) now offer direct flights to Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan International Airport.
  • In 2015 China is expected to overtake France as the world’s top tourist destination

It is against such a backdrop that ever pioneering Hangzhou was the first mainland China city to put into practice an ‘open door’ global policy of promoting its tourism industry to more than a dozen new markets including United Kingdom, Germany, France and United States.

Nevertheless, foreign tourists will only be attracted to travel by the quality of Hangzhou’s tourism product which would need to be amongst the very best in China. We would note, for example, while Hangzhou was once a stronghold for Islam in China, with historic Arab connections dating back 900 years, Hangzhou’s tourist product offering for high-spending visitors from the Middle East and the Gulf States arriving in Hangzhou by way of 5 Star airline Qatar Airways is far from world-class.

Moreover, to break into these new markets Hangzhou tourism planners would first need to invest in focused programs which both highlight competitive strengths and positioning and have a track record for consistently delivering outstanding and innovative experiences. The resulting niche tourism products would likely be targeted at high value foreign tourists, encouraging them to either start or end their China trips in Hangzhou.

Hangzhou has strengths in key niche areas of tourism, which, if effectively marketed, will certainly entice this high-spending foreign tourism segment.

  • Cuisine
  • Medical tourism
  • Meeting, convention and exhibition facilities
  • Outdoor adventure
  • Historic and cultural heritage

All of which are covered by Hangzhou’s proximity to Shanghai and the city’s Number 1 attraction: Four seasons of spectacular scenery.

Creating a new tourism catchphrase for Hangzhou

According to the book “Creative Advertising” by Charles Whittier:

“A slogan should be a statement of such merit about a product or service that is worthy of continuous repetitive advertising; is worthwhile for the public to remember; and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it.”

However, it’s a difficult job to capture the appeal of a destination such as Hangzhou and plug it into a hard-hitting, effective slogan.

Some slogans become real hits

  • Egypt, where it all begins” is the impressive tourism slogan of Egypt, which intends to highlight Egypt’s historic status as a cradle of civilisations
  • It’s more fun in the Philippines” is the cheery / happy travel slogan of the Philippines.
  • 100% pure New Zealand” is the marketing slogan of Tourism New Zealand, which reflects New Zealand’s image as a clean, green, adventure playground.
  • Jump into Ireland, the tourism slogan of Tourism Ireland (north and south) is designed to convey a sense of playfulness and to reflect the stimulating nature of a holiday in Ireland with unforgettable experiences and warm, friendly people.
Other effective slogans which we like are
  • Mauritius – It’s a pleasure” – clean and simple
  • Brazil – Sensational!”

 Some slogans can be vague, unclear and even disturbing

  • I Love (heart) New York” is the travel slogan many others try to emulate, but what does this catchphrase really convey about New York?
  • South Africa: It’s Possible!” is South Africa’s tourism slogan. This slogan gives you no reason to visit South Africa
  • Visit Bangladesh Before Tourists Comewas the tourism slogan of Bangladesh!
  • Colombia: The Only Risk Is Wanting to Stay”, Columbia’s tourism slogan, could potentially cause more harm than good, by highlighting the reality of “risk

Clearly some of these slogans’ unfortunate suggestions could have been caught early with international testing, and I therefore applaud the Hangzhou Tourism Commission and the Hangzhou Office of Foreign Affairs officials who have invited long-time foreign friends of Hangzhou here today to sound out our opinions regarding the four suggested new slogans for marketing Hangzhou in these new markets.

In my opinion, when developing a great inspirational slogan for Hangzhou — I am thinking along the lines of, for example, Subway’s ‘Eat Fresh’, Nike’s ‘Just Do It!; Sony’s ‘Make. Believe’ etc — five key elements need be adhered to:

  1. Recognition. An effective slogan for Hangzhou must stay consistent with the Hangzhou brand name either obviously stated or strongly implied. It’s better to include the name of Hangzhou in it.By putting the Hangzhou name in the slogan, every time people hear it and see it, they re-imprint it and keep it top-of-mind. People identify with the name.
  2. Unforgettable. Some of the best slogans, such as those just highlighted, are still being used today, even though they were launched more than a few years ago.  Such slogans are memorable.
  3. Useful. The chosen slogan should show Hangzhou’s intention and benefits of the tourism product by conveying the message in consumer language. Imply the risk of not using the product. Create a positive feeling for the consumers. – Such a slogan should be beneficial.
  4. Differentiation. In an overcrowded tourism market, brands in the same industry need to set themselves apart through a creative and original slogan.
  5. And finally, keep it simple. Use proven words and short keywords.  Seven words or less: One word is usually not enough.

4 Final Slogans for Promoting Hangzhou Overseas

A diverse representation of 15 foreigners – including company owners, hotel managers, magazine editors and teachers – living in Hangzhou from periods of a year to over twenty years, were assembled by the Hangzhou Tourism Commission and Hangzhou Foreign Affairs Office to choose which one of the following four final slogans created by Shanghai Advertising Company would be best suited to promoting sophisticated brand image of Hangzhou overseas (in particular to reach tourists in Europe and the Americas).

  • Infinitely Hangzhou!
  • Authentic Hangzhou!
  • Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate
  • Hangzhou: A Living Poetry

The Shanghai Advertising Company account manager urged those present to consider each slogan in terms of four aspects:

  • “Relevance with Hangzhou City”
  • “Words elegancy”
  • “Pronunciation”
  • “Sense of Picture”

Infinitely Hangzhou!

Even against an appropriate setting of iconic Hangzhou panoramas, similar to “Brazil -Sensational!” or “Mauritius – It’s a pleasure”, for the intrepid tourist planning his/her first trip to China, having already ticked Beijing, Shanghai, and possibly Xian or Guilin, “Infinitely Hangzhou” comes across as rather vague.  Infinitely what? Infinitely full of surprises or infinitely full of hope? What does “Infinitely Hangzhou” have to do with anything?

Of course, to those of us with even a basic knowledge of Hangzhou, simple “Infinitely Hangzhou” suggests a city of unlimited cultural expression.  Yet, it will take first-rate emotionally appealing photographic backdrops to disarm “Infinitely Hangzhou” of its mind-numbing blandness. Hangzhou is an inviting and truly diverse city for those tourists that endeavour to discover its appeal.  With respect to Hangzhou, a single word slogan will not generate an effective emotional impact.

Authentic Hangzhou!

With China’s heritage disappearing at an alarming rate in the race for modernisation, authenticity is a much sought-after, and increasingly elusive, quality that rates high with foreign tourists. As such, the slogan “Authentic Hangzhou” stakes Hangzhou’s claim to a rich historical past which continues to be alive and well. “Authentic Hangzhou” can also refer to Hangzhou’s natural landscape while underscoring the genuineness of its people.

Yet the slogan “Authentic Hangzhou” manages at the same time to be boring, nebulous and almost superfluous. Hangzhou may be the first Chinese city to start promoting itself to European and American markets, but soon numerous cities throughout China boasting an international airport will be getting in on the act, which begs the question: How effective will the slogan “Authentic Hangzhou” be in adequately articulating the unique attributes of Hangzhou, including the authentic experiences of Hangzhou’s history, architecture, cuisine and culture? Doubtless the tagline will be paired with colourful images, but it’s unclear whether visitors will make the connection between the slogan and the city’s emphasis on authentic experiences.

Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate

While “Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate” is the first to clearly state to spell out specific benefits of Hangzhou’s tourist product offering, the three ‘Rs’ make it sound like a catchy spa slogan. If truth be told the tagline does define what a vacation is all about, but in this case is more suggestive of warm beaches bathed in year-round sunshine, when in fact Hangzhou has four distinct seasons.  Moreover, Hangzhou purists would argue that the tagline “Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate” completely negates seven thousand years of history.

On the positive side Hangzhou with its close proximity to Shanghai and growing direct international access via Xiaoshan International Airport is the ideal place for visitors to either China and relax prior to traipsing around the country and for unwinding following a hectic cross China sight-seeing schedule. If this is indeed the intended message of “Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate” then the slogan needs re-working, not least because “recharge” and “rejuvenate” are quite unoriginal and are more or less tantamount to the same meaning.

Hangzhou: Living Poetry

Hangzhou’s natural beauty and historic treasures, which embrace many aspects of Chinese culture, have been a source of inspiration for poets and painters throughout Chinese history. In contrast with modernising cities across China, including Shanghai, although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, much of the city’s natural, historical and cultural heritage remains unchanged from what has been depicted in literature for centuries. As such,  the slogan “Hangzhou: A Living Poetry” asserts that in essence nothing has changed about Hangzhou’s enduring allure, even if the city is China’s fourth largest metropolitan area, an appeal which, if properly packaged, would have to be enticing to China-bound European and American tourists. 

Moreover, by portraying Hangzhou as a poetry in motion, “Hangzhou: A Living Poetry” comfortably encompasses the notions of “infinitely”, “authentic” and “relax, recharge, rejuvenate” as set out in the previous three taglines.

As such “Hangzhou: A Living Poetry” proved to be the most popular of the four slogans, although tweaked a little to make it more Now: “Hangzhou: Living Poetry”.

Hangzhou: Living Poetry” – A simple, yet memorable, slogan for marketing the Hangzhou brand image to European and American tourists that people will identify with and which, by demonstrating the benefits of the city’s own matchless tourist product, clearly differentiates Hangzhou from would be competitors.

Hangzhou: Living Poetry

Hangzhou: Living Poetry

Source: http://accuratelimited.com/blog.view.php?id=QmaR0u99uCk=

Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group Ireland China Market Makers

Website: http://www.accuratelimited.com

Twitter: @AccurateChina

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Ireland, Dublin – O: +353-1271-1830

2016

2016

2016

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