Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interpreting the data

We said earlier in the week "watch this space" for updates on the barometer of economic activity which is the Canton Fair and its Hong Kong counterparts. The organisers are understandably being a bit coy about early releases of visitor figures. The South China Morning Post (still behind it's firewall, sorry) this morning quotes one exhibitor in Guangzhou suggesting that "the organisers lost 70 per cent of the usual attendees".

I doubt that's true, but read with more interest the accompanying story where interpreters lined up outside the hall, offering their services to visitors were interviewed. Spanish interpreters, it seems are still in demand although their rates have dropped from Rmb700 a day for the Spring Fair in April to Rmb500. English interpreters, obviously more plentiful, are struggling to find takers at Rmb200 - 300 a day while one girl was (unsuccessfully) offering Rmb150 (around US$20).

But, even with cut rates, there weren't enough buyers to go around and the reporter describes large groups of interpreters waiting all day outside the Pazhou exhibition complex. There you have it folks: the sharp end of the global economic crisis.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Let them eat concrete...

Hong Kong has a long tradition of turning to major infrastructure projects when the people are feeling gloomy. In the aftermath of Tiananmen Square in 1989, then Governor Sir David Wilson announced the construction of a huge new airport at Chep Lap Kok.

Today it was Sir Donald "bow tie" Tsang's turn. In the face of ugly markets, a particularly embarrassing local twist to Lehman's demise and general public grumpiness, he appears to have let the Hong Kong Trade Development Council have their way with a probable Phase III development of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre. In his policy address today, he said:

To maintain our position as a convention and exhibition capital, we need to increase the exhibition area of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). The atrium link expansion of the HKCEC will be completed next year. The Government and the TDC are examining the feasibility of a Phase 3 expansion of the HKCEC at a nearby site. We will embark on detailed studies and public consultation as soon as possible.

That is very project-specific and appears to push back indefinitely plans for a Phase II at the AsiaWorld-Expo venue located out at the previous feel-good infrastructure project, the Hong Kong International Airport. That site is majority owned by the HK government but with minority ownership from French-owned Dragages Hong Kong and others. It's biggests users are Global Sources, founded and controlled by an American and the HKTDC's biggest rival for over 30 years.

The HKTDC was unable to contain its pleasure over the government's decision with an immediate press release saying that "The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) warmly welcomes the Government's decision as communicated in the 15 October 2008 Policy Address to examine the feasibility of a Phase III expansion of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) at a nearby site".

Monday, October 13, 2008

The world will be watching

No, not the European finance ministers, not Hank Paulson's latest briefing. I'm talking about the Canton Fair and the big Hong Kong sourcing exhibitions (links later). This will be a good test of how the financial storm might affect 'real' business.

Today's South China Morning Post is gloomy. Airlines are reporting a 15% drop in bookings and hotels are said to be 'half full' (although I don't really believe that). The clincher, though, is that the price of black market stands at the fair (don't ask!) is down to 3x list price from 10x.

Hong Kong TV news was also reporting last night that Electronics Fair exhibitors were refocussing their targets on developing Asia (especially India and China) as well as southern Europe and the Middle East. Watch this space!

Sent via BlackBerry.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Competing for better web metrics

We have posted before (the last time just over a year ago) on the inadequacies of available web metrics for B2B sites. We publish a regular report as part of the BSG Asia Business Media Tracker subscription service which is based mainly on Alexa data. Some of readers and clients don't tire from pointing out to us the inadequacies of that.

So, I was interested this morning to come across a piece on Australia's TechNation site which gives traffic numbers for Aussie start-up sites. That's interesting in itself, but what caught my eye was that are using both Alexa numbers and those from Call me ignorant if you will, but I wasn't aware of this one. I ran a test on numbers for, Global Sources and I've always been a bit suspicious of the Alexa numbers for the latter. See what you make of the result:

I haven't looked into this seriously yet to work out where they get their numbers from. Have any of you? What comments to you have on Compete?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Statement from TCEB on stituation in Thailand

These are confusing times for those of us focusing on Thailand. The world's media are obviously making the most of the dramatic goings-on in the streets of Bangkok.

The Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, an important BSG client, has issued the following statement today:

8 October 2008: Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau wishes to inform organizers, business traveler s, and trade visitors who are planning or attending business events in Thailand as follows:

  • The current protests are limited to the area around the Government House, Parliament and Rajdamnoen Road area. These areas are located closely together in one specific district in Bangkok, and far from all major MICE related venues, and hotels. Delegates are therefore advised to be prudent and avoid these specific areas.
  • All convention and exhibition venues in Thailand are unaffected. All major MICE venues are operating normally.
  • Normal businesses continue to be unaffected. The gatherings for corporate meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions can be conducted as usual.
  • All international and domestic airports in Thailand, and mass transportation such as the BTS skytrain, MRT subway, and bus services are in normal operation. Public and private organizations, shopping centres and restaurants are open as usual.

We will keep you updated with the situation. Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to call TCEB office: +(66) 2694 6000 , visit or contact TCEB office is located at Siam Tower 26 Floor, 989 Rama I Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand