Leaping Totally - Exclusive Interview with Ms. Xue Tang, General Manager of Hangzhou International Expo Center
From China National Convention Center, Zhuhai International Convention&Exhibition Center, and to the current Hangzhou International Expo Center, from Deputy General Manager to General Manager, Ms. Xue Tang, General Manager of Hangzhou International Expo Center has worked her way up in the MICE career, and her responsibility has changed fromoperationof specific sectors to supervision of the whole venue. This career progresswitnessed the development of Ms. Tang�s professional abilities, making her a leading figure in the field of venue management in China. Ms. Tang describes this progress as �Leaping Totally�. In fact, these past few years not only witnessed Ms. Tang�s selfdevelopment, but also testified the significant advancement of venue management level in China.
This leaping progress in Ms. Tang�s career started from 2013. It was her first time worked as General Manager when she was in Zhuhai International Convention & Exhibition Center, the recipient venue of the venue management service output project of Ms. Tang�s headquarter company North Star Events. During the short time of two and half years, under the leadership of Ms. Tang, the brandand influence of Zhuhai International Convention & Exhibition Center was quickly built up, and so the fame of Ms. Tang as a venue manager in China. It was also fair to say that the outstanding performance of Zhuhai International Convention & Exhibition Center greatly contributed to the rapid development of the MICE industry in the city.At the end of 2015, Ms. Tang was appointed as GeneralManager of North Star Venue Management Co., Ltd, whichwas dedicated to the overall venue management service output business. This was again a major challenge to her, as in this role, she not only had to enlarge the venue management business of the company, but also to raise the management level of existing venues.
In November 2016, with abundant work experience of sate affairs service, Ms. Tang participated in the reception service of the G20 Summit,a major diplomatic eventfor the Chinese Government that year. After a short warm-up period of only one month, Ms. Tang began to work as General Manager of Hangzhou International Expo Center. Today, almost one year has passed now since the event, and the thriving MICE industry in Hangzhou has draw extensive attention from the industry. Ms. Tang says this past year was quite unique, presenting challenges and opportunities and contributed considerably to her professional ability enhancement and personal growth as well.
Firstly, capacities are different in two venues. The MICE industry in Zhuhai focuses on conventions and aims on bringing more international conventions, while Hangzhou emphasizes both the convention and exhibition exhibition industry. Hangzhou International Expo Center is a 850,000 square meters complex, and it contains 7 business segments including convention, exhibition, catering, tourism, hotel, commercial area and office building. Among all the recipient venues of North Star Events, this venue waswith the highest construction standard and has the best hardware facilities. Therefore, it demands comprehensive capability from the General Manager, including operation ability, leadership, the understanding of industry and local MICE essentials in Hangzhou.
Ms. Tang expressed strong interest to this challenging task, and took it as a valuable platform and an important step for her role as general manager. With one year efforts, the business performance, political contribution and brand influence were all beyond expectation of both provincial and local governments, and boosted their confidence in further developing the MICE industry in Hangzhou. Moreover, much to Ms. Tang�s pride, during this year, Hangzhou International Expo Center also has cultivated a capable operation team that can face tough challenges.
Xue, Tang told the reporter that during her work in Zhuhai and Hangzhou, she was most impressed by the rising recognition for venue management from the entire industry,including investors, share holders, governments and organizers. People no longer view the nature of venue operation as simple property management, but begin to realize that it demands very high service standards. The popularity of industry venue management training projects also reflects the increasing demand for venue management service.
In addition, although the capabilities of venue management are quite different among event centers all over the country, many local governments have all come to the consensus of that venue management means better venue service, rather than just attracting events as in the past. Ms. Tang mentioned that from the early days of managing China National Convention Center, North Star Events has insisting on managing MICE venues with the service concept of hotels. Today, this approach is also replicated to all the client venues operated by North Star Event, and the outstanding accomplishmentin these years could be regarded as a benchmark of whole event industry.
Ms. Tang predicts that venue management will draw great attentions in the future, and there will be unprecedented development opportunities. At present, both the number and the total space of Chinese event venues rank first in the world. However, the service quality is not yet in the top level, and the main reason is the lack of professional standards, and the service qualities among different venues vary greatly. �This is the most important reason why I dedicate myself to venue management. With higher requirement of servicing quality and visitor experience, it is essential to improve venue management approaches. In this way, we can raise the service level of the entire event industry.� Ms. Tang says.
In the meantime, the most crucial indicator of the capability of operating and managing event venue is the figure��the amount of income and revenue directly reflects the operation level of the venue and determines the future development ofvenue. In addition, the success of the venue is a combined result of local government support, surrounding facilities such as the transportation network in the local area, and the overall economic power of the city.While most venues still rely on venue rent as the main source of income, in Hangzhou International Expo Center, the income from affiliating service sector has surpassed venue rent. �After all, the role of the venue is to contribute to local local economy, so to be profitable is the development goal.�
From September 2016 to August 2017, the G20 Summit Experience Hall in Hangzhou International Expo Center has welcomed more than 950,000 visitors, and the Center held 1,100 conferences and 24 exhibitions, the total exhibited space exceeded more than 1.39 million square meter, and the strategic cooperation agreements to 2022 have been signed. As Ms.Tang pointed, the excellent results greatly strengthenedthe localprovincial and municipal governments�determination to develop the event industry in Hangzhou.
Ms.Tang also points out that venue operators must always link the destiny of the venue and development of the local city. Instead of just trying to attracting MICE projects, local area must also try to attract industry resources and high-end talents. It is idea that there is mutual promotion of the the venue and the city it is in.
Currently, Hangzhou International Expo Center hasset longterm development plans and has put that into practice. In the aspect of human resource strategy, the Center aims to cultivate 100 middle-level managers and 1,000 professionals. To achieve this goal, HIEC has taken a series of practical measures, including inviting industry specialists to give presentationsevery month, which wassimultaneously transmitted online to the whole event industry. In the aspect of school-enterprise cooperation, the Center has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with local college. In addition, the �Hangzhou International Expo Academy� was established in June 2017, which createsa unique talent cultivation model and provides an approach for staffs to pursue higher education and attracted more than 30 enrollments in the first edition. It was so successful that the Center is now trying to duplicate this model to other places.
Moreover, Hangzhou International Expo Center has employed consultants to build a smart venue and make a series of attempts to employ cutting-edge technologies. The first unmanned store in Zhejiang Province has now launched into use in the Center. According to Ms. Tang, in the future, driverless car, green booth construction and other creative concepts will also be applied in the Center. A multi-functional APP is also coming soon. Instead of pure message-delivering function, the APP will feature tailormade services for event organizers and will be a platform for connecting all relative groups which form the industry ecological environment of the Center.
Member news by: Hangzhou International Expo Center