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Thursday, May 10, 2018, 12:30
Taking sky-high attraction to the world
By Lin Wenjie in Hong Kong
Thursday, May 10, 2018, 12:30 By Lin Wenjie in Hong Kong

Josephine Lam Po-tung, vice-chairman of sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck, has a straightforward recipe for building a strong team — share vision, empower and create trust. (PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY)

Brand-builder Josephine Lam Po-tung, vice-chairman of sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck, is striving to digitize the attraction and make it a place Hong Kong people take pride in.

Developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties, sky100 is on the 100th floor of International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon, the tallest building in Hong Kong. At 393 meters above sea level, it is the only indoor observation deck with 360-degree views of the city and Victoria Harbour.

Lam has worked in Hong Kong for almost 20 years in promoting brands, business development and marketing and communications. She has leadership experience at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and Hong Kong Jockey Club.

After we established the name on the market, we are now trying to improve the reputation

Josephine Lam Po-tung, Vice-Chairman, sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck

When Sun Hung Kai Properties Group tasked Lam to manage sky100 seven years ago, she said the first thing she did was to create a brand vision.

“Building a brand vision is the first step to inspire and deliver business success. I remember that day when I took over this project. I came here and looked out of the panoptic windows, wondering what my vision is for the observation deck. The next day, I came to my boss’s office and presented him the vision: With the ultimate goal of becoming a world-renowned observation deck, sky100 aims to become one of the must-visit attractions for local and overseas visitors by offering a panoramic view of Hong Kong,” she tells China Daily. 

All major cities around the world have their own iconic observation decks, she continues, such as the Empire State Building in New York, the CN Tower in Toronto and Skytree in Tokyo. These buildings have the same characteristics — the tallest architecture in the city center with convenient transport.

“Sky100 has all these features, so it is undoubtedly the one for Hong Kong,” she says.

The ICC tower already has an MTR station and Airport Express terminus right at its feet and is expected to receive a major accessibility boost when the West Kowloon terminus of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link opens later this year. By then, visitors from the airport and mainland cities could reach sky100 much more easily. The observation deck also boasts Hong Kong’s fastest double-deck high-speed elevators, which reach the 100th floor in just 60 seconds.

Story to tell

However, it takes much more than hospitality and stunning views to impress visitors. Therefore, Lam always seeks new perspectives and ideas to break the ground and enhance sky100’s current standing in a bid to attract repeat customers.

“Through our survey, we found that visitors are looking for something deeper. For example, they are interested in knowing the cultures and stories of the city, as well as the past and present of Hong Kong, and they are happy to get involved in activities with innovative ideas,” she added.

To meet this demand, sky100 holds different festival-related activities and events every month and introduces the features of Hong Kong’s culture and its unique story through fascinating multimedia exhibitions and regular festive campaigns.

“For example, we launched an Easter promotion in April, serving afternoon tea sets at this cafe operated by Ritz-Carlton. We are also kicking off celebrations to mark the seventh anniversary of sky100, offering an array of discounts and offers from April to June, including the 7th Anniversary Double Delights Package and Sky-high Birthday Ice-Cream Giveaway,” she said.

Recognizing the increasing importance of technology, sky100 integrates virtual reality equipment to immerse tourists in spectacular day-to-night city views. Visitors can see fireworks and light shows through the VR headsets. Augmented-reality technology on the mobile-phone application lets visitors explore the past of Hong Kong. 

“We will introduce a multi-language robotic tour guide later to interact with visitors,” Lam adds.

Five features

Lam is also trying to improve sky100’s reputation and brand-awareness in other markets. She flew to several centers to meet travel agencies and tourism organizations to advertise the brand.

“From the Chinese mainland to Taiwan, from Southeast Asian countries to European countries, me and my team are doing all we can to convince local travel agencies to add our site into their travel packages. Sometimes the managements of big travel agencies only have a few minutes to listen to my presentation, so I have summarized five features of sky100 — the newest, the tallest (building), the most scenic 360-degree views, the fastest (elevator) and the very center of the city.”

Her efforts seem to have been rewarded. Both revenue and visitor numbers at sky100 achieved double-digit growth last year, with overseas tourists accounting for about 50 percent of traffic, and mainland visitors making up 30 percent. Tourist arrivals in Hong Kong increased just 3.2 percent last year, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said.

“Every stage in business has its own challenges. After we established the name on the market, we are now trying to improve the reputation. In the near term, we will continue to promote our brand both domestically and abroad; in the long term, leveraging on the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and seizing the opportunities brought by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and Express Rail Link, we hope sky100 could be one of the tourist sites for multi-destination travelers. We serve as a platform to introduce Hong Kong to the world, and we hope that the Hong Kong citizens will be proud of sky100,” she said.

Sky100 has received the Certificate of Excellence for four consecutive years since 2014 from travel website Trip-Advisor. The attraction is also named by CNN as one of the 17 beautiful places to see in Hong Kong, and it’s the only Hong Kong member of the World Federation of Great Towers.

‘Vision plus teamwork equals success’

Josephine Lam Po-tung, vice-chairman of sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck, is a person who stays true to her original impulse — to grow a newly born observation deck into a world-renowned tourist attraction. The goal, she believes, is impossible to achieve without a solid team that delivers quality service and business performance.

Lam emphasizes teamwork and believes empowering her team and creating employee trust are the most significant skills for a leader of an effective team. 

“I would share my vision and plans with my team members at first, then allow them to develop specific plans according to the vision. When the whole team works together to accomplish one common goal, everyone will feel a sense of belonging and achievement. As a result, they will be more passionate to meet new challenges,” she says.

But how does she unite employees and inspire them to reach a goal? Lam says a leader should be broad-minded and empathetic; that is, making decisions depending on the overall situation and thoughtfully consider employees’ feelings.

“A leader needs to set an example for the employees to show love and passion for the work. For me, I’m very concentrating on my work when I am in the office. Besides looking after the sky100 project, I am also the head of marketing in SmarTone, a local telecommunication company under the Sun Hung Kai Group, so I have to have a clear goal for myself in the first place, and work hard to achieve the goal,” Lam says.

Besides being a leader in the company, Lam is also a mother of three children at home, but she can still manage to take time from a busy schedule to spend with her family.

“I’m also passionate about life. Whenever I have time, I will spend with my family. Sometimes I ride bikes with my sons, go skiing, or go diving with them. Doing exercise with family is the best way to rejuvenate myself, and when I go back to the work, I can have a clear mind.”

Lam speaks highly of the young generation today, because they have a broader worldview than any of the generations before them; she also encourages young people to travel to different places, as every journey will bring new inspirations. 

“They can begin the journey with the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The rapid development on the Chinese mainland recent years will definitely bring unexpected surprises and opportunities to them,” she says.

She also suggests the young generation learn to see things from a different perspective. 

“For example, we all know that Hong Kong’s skyline is renowned internationally. But if you look closely at the city, you may see chaotic or ordinary streets that are nothing special. However, when you stand taller, on the sky100 observation deck, you can then fully enjoy the beauty of Hong Kong’s skyline.”

Last but not least, she urges young people to seize the opportunities, and not shy away from challenges.

“Young people should not be afraid to lose. In fact, the society is full of opportunities, as long as you work hard, and equip yourselves well with necessary skills and knowledge for a career, you will definitely achieve your dream.”

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