The bustling city of Hong Kong is not only a famed tourist location, but it also boasts a bustling business sector. In this episode of Destination Everywhere, your hosts Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth take you to Hong Kong to showcase its endless charms for business and event travel. They are joined by James LaValle, Manager of Conventions, Exhibitions, and Corporate Events for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, and Simon Gilkes, Director of Sales and Marketing for Rosewood Hotels Hong Kong. They discuss the numerous destination spots ideal for exploration on your next business travel. They also enumerate the wide array of activities they offer for group incentive travels. Get to know the multicultural global hotspot and what else you can look forward to in Hong Kong.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels in Hong Kong to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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Todd And Andy’s Destination Favorites in Hong Kong
Hosts Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill list down some of their favorite areas to frequent in Hong Kong for a great experience.
Lion Rock Country Park
Happy Valley Racecourse
Dragon Boat Festival in Victoria Harbor
Symphony of Light show
Hong Kong And Some Misconceptions
James Lavalle, Manager of Conventions, Exhibitions, and Corporate Events for the Hong Kong Tourism Board, joins this episode to share the beauty of Hong Kong.
One of the most confusing topics for tourists concerns Hong Kong’s geography and government. Hong Kong is a part of China but, like Macau, is considered a special administrative region. It is distinct and separate but still certainly a part of China in an indirect manner.
One misconception related to this is the language barrier. As a by-product of 99 years under British colonial rule, English has become the language of business and service in Hong Kong. This only adds to the culturally diverse air of Hong Kong, where Western influences meet Asian tradition.
Must-Do Activities In Hong Kong for Every Traveler
Engulf in the skyline view offered by the Harbor Cruise
Enjoy the mountains at Victoria Peak
Immerse in ancient temples and;
Explore fishing villages In Lantau Island
Team Building Activities To Enjoy For Group Incentive Travels
Dragon Boat Racing
Tai Chi Class
Tea Appreciation Classes
Cooking classes ranging from Michelin to Disney
Sound Baths and Forest Therapy
Immerse In Authentic And Innovative Cuisines
As one of the most multicultural cities in Asia, you can experience a full range of cuisines and gourmet dishes from the global scene. For a taste that is uniquely Hong Kong, here are some places to check out:
Dai Pai Dong food stalls
Fresh seafood from the fishing villages in Sai Kung
Alving Yeung’s Bo Innovation
Tim Ho Wan
Eye-catching Venues Of The Past And Upcoming Venues For Future Visits
Hong Kong does not fall behind when it comes to historical sites and extends its uniqueness to them as well. Here are some of the must-see historic developments:
Tai Kwun Heritage Center
Hong Kong also boasts exciting new and upcoming projects that will spice up any future business event you’re planning. Take note of these locations:
Rosewood Hong Kong
New Marriot Hotels by the Ocean Park
Asia World Expo
11 Skies, the largest dining and entertainment district in Hong Kong
Upcoming 1000-room Sheraton project
K11 Luxury Art Mall
Hong Kong is an ideal destination for every season. Summer is perfect for short-haul, domestic travel, fall for long-haul business meetings and incentives, and the great winter weather makes for a fantastic experience. Find the best deals and group rates from July through August, November through mid-December, and January to early March.
The Rosewood Hotel: Home Away From Home
Simon Gilkes, Director of Sales and Marketing for Rosewood Hong Kong, explains the appeal of their successful array of luxury hotels and what it’s offering in its Hong Kong branch located at the Victoria Dockside Arts and Design District. It’s steps away from the Museum Mile and Avenue of Stars and sits in the middle of the bustling shopping district.
The hotel’s ethos to offer a sense of place to it’s a guest, a sense of being home away from home. Even for business events, it provides a comforting space to unwind while having dedicated areas for any agenda including beautiful ballrooms, a foyer with a large English-style garden and a destination bar for event guests. They also offer an elevated and more intimate C-level event experience with their Pavilion floors.
Special Guest Experiences
Did you know you can have a unique cultural experience and immerse yourself in a beautiful tropical setting without leaving United States territory? Puerto Rico is the hidden gem for convenient yet amazing business travels. Join your hosts Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth as they share ideal destinations for your next meeting and event travel. With them today are Wesley Elizabeth Cullen, General Manager at Casa BACARDÍ, and Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, to discuss the scenic views and immersive experiences you can enjoy minus the hassle of passports, currency exchange, and translators. From the rich history and the creation of rum to water sports and food stalls, get to know the diverse activities and destination favorites you can offer your next group incentive travel.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels in Puerto Rico to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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Casa BACARDÍ GM Wesley Cullen Gives An Inside Look At One Of The Best Event Venues, Plus Discover Puerto Rico CEO Brad Dean Shares His Destination Favorites
Puerto Rico is an island located in the Caribbean, just east of the Dominican Republic and it is also under US territory. The ideal destination for hassle-free travel if you’re a US citizen; no passport needed. Experts of the land join Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth to share the beauty and diversity you can enjoy in Puerto Rico, the ideal business travel destination.
Casa BACARDÍ With Wesley Elizabeth Cullen
Wesley Elizabeth Cullen is the General Manager at Casa BACARDÍ, the largest premium rum distillery in the world, welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually. BACARDÍ was founded in Cuba but has been making rum in Puerto Rico since 1936 and was one of the first companies in Cuba exporting prior to the revolution. Today, 85% of the Bacardi rums sold around the world are made in Puerto Rico. As it’s been coined, the cathedral of rum has been registered as a historical site with 127 acres of certified conservation and amazing views of the property.
Amenities and Activities at Casa BACARDÍ
Casa BACARDÍ offers dynamic and fun activities intending to be a responsible playground for adults.
Jenga and Hula Hoops
Bacardi Legacy Competition
Don Facundo Bacardi’s Revolutionary Rum-Making Process
Casa BACARDÍ’s Sustainable Rum Distillery
As a leader of the Bonsucro certification for molasses, Casa BACARDÍ ensures that their products are sustainably sourced both environmentally and on a human level with fair wages and no child labor. The company has a strong commitment to reducing plastic waste in the ocean and in general, with all kinds of programs that promote sustainable habits to customers.
Discover Puerto Rico With Brad Dean
Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, talks about Puerto Rico’s rich history and culture that stems from Spanish, African, and Indian heritage, which fuses magnificently. The convenient and seamless travel experience is the cherry on top of the beautiful scenery and amazing adventures the destination offers. Puerto Rico offers convenient traveling with no passport and no currency exchange, plus your phone works! It also boasts the only rainforest in the US forest system and three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays. Perfect for connecting with nature amidst a busy business trip.
Activities From Coast To Coast
There’s a range of activities to be experienced on the island of Puerto Rico. Properties are perfectly accustomed to giving access to the beach but with convenient proximity to mountains. This compact island also has six ecosystems that exponentially increase the number of group activities right at your fingertips.
Toro Verde Adventure Park
Wellness and Spas with nature-bound experience
The Biggest Misconceptions
There is so much more to Puerto Rico than San Juan. It’s a small island, but the diversity in experience it offers is astounding so take the time to explore and enjoy the many activities available.
People don’t realize Puerto Rico is part of the US. It offers the unique experience of an exotic ambiance of a foreign country yet the conveniences of being in the US. Most people speak English so you won’t feel far from home, but you can immerse in a new culture with rich history you can’t find anywhere else.
Walk away from your meetings, events, or business travels not only with relaxation and wellness but also with a real feeling that you’ve experienced the culture of Puerto Rico. Having experienced every scenario, Puerto Rico is equipped with resiliency and preparedness to make sure your attendees are cared for.
About Wesley Elizabeth Cullen
Wesley is a business and community leader who is passionate about bringing people together and making good things happen. Since joining Bacardi in 2017, Wesley has served as General Manager of Casa BACARDÍ Puerto Rico, the second most visited tourist attraction on the island. The visitor center is home to the iconic BACARDÍ rum and welcomes 200,000 guests annually for tours, classes and events at the beautiful waterfront campus.
Wesley is a positive disruptor who leads with contagious passion and who believes in the power of diversity and getting out of our comfort zones. This bold leadership style has earned her top recognition in Puerto Rico and the events industry, including being named among the “Caribbean Business Power 100,” the “Ideas for Puerto Rico Award” from ConPRometidos, and Venues “Today Woman of Influence.”
Passionately involved in the community, Wesley founded the non-profit organization Super Positivo, dedicated to keeping the beaches clean. She is actively involved in promoting leadership, particularly for women, and supporting the entrepreneurial and arts ecosystems through her roles on the Board of Directors for the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association, SER de Puerto and Unidos por Puerto Rico, while also volunteering for a number of organizations.
About Brad Dean
After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Accounting, Brad Dean worked as a financial analyst for General Electric, and in 1993, he joined the Rank Corporation as a Unit Controller for its Hard Rock Cafe chain. In 1995 he was tapped to open and lead the Myrtle Beach unit, which became one of the most successful in company history. Three years later, Brad joined the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce as its Chief Financial Officer, and in 2003, was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber.
Under his leadership, the Myrtle Beach tourism industry enjoyed record growth and the organization was named Chamber of Commerce of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (2015), while also earning full accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Destinations International. In 2018, Brad was tapped to lead Discover Puerto Rico, the island’s Destination Marketing Organization created after Hurricane Maria.
He serves in various leadership roles with a variety of organizations including the U.S. Travel Association, Destinations International and Meeting Planners International. He is a member of the National Council of State Tourism Directors and also serves on the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. Brad has been active with many charitable organizations and also holds a Master’s Degree from Moody Bible Institute.
Andy McNeill talks with Adam Stoker, the President and CEO of Relic, an advertising agency that specializes in the tourism industry, about rural destinations and why companies should consider going to these places rather than conventional destinations. Adam tells Andy that one of the unique things about rural destinations is the ability to offer a more unique experience than major destinations, making meeting and event travel a more memorable experience for the team. He mentions that rural destinations have Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) and Destination Marketing Organization (DMOs) that work together to promote these locations to bring in events and continue to generate visitation.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
How to Have An Incredible Experience When Choosing Rural Destinations
Traveling for business doesn’t have to be plain and boring. But how do we get away from the usual places everyone’s been to? In this spotlight episode of Destination Everywhere on how to have an incredible experience when choosing a rural destination, Andy McNeill invites Adam Stoker to talk about rural destinations and how you can choose one for your meeting and travel locations.
Adam Stoker is the President and CEO of Relic, an advertising agency specializing in the tourism industry. Adam has worked with destinations for nine years, consulting with leisure travel, stakeholder engagement, destination branding, meeting planner, convention meetings, and marketing.
First, Adam tells Andy about the Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Destination Marketing Organizations present in different states in the country. They work together to promote the destination and, depending on the location, have a marketing team and convention and events sales team whose job is to bring in events and place them in a hotel with the right destination. These organizations are funded by transient room tax or lodging tax.
Different ways rural destinations promote themselves:
Adam goes on to share the rural destinations he frequents and thinks would be great choices for others.
Bryce Canyon, Utah
This destination in Utah has no traditional convention center, but they used their resort called Ruby’s Inn to host smaller meeting areas. Since the start of COVID, they had a campaign called “Upgrade Your Dust” which aims to promote visiting their place to go hiking and use hiking equipment again and upgrade your dust from your garage to the dust in Bryce Canyon.
They offer an intimate outdoor experience opportunity with an incredible view of Bryce Canyon a hundred yards from the rest.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort, South Carolina is a beautiful destination located right in the middle of Charleston, South Carolina and Hilton Head, South Carolina. It was a challenge for them to compete with these major destinations with budgets and media spending to promote themselves. To stand out from the competition, Beaufort South Carolina launched a podcast called The Inner Coastal podcast and brought in local stakeholders to talk about the destination and the unique experiences it can offer.
They have the Kazoo Factory and museum. A lot of films have been made in this location as well and visitors can fully experience these .
Vernal, Utah is two and a half hours outside Salt Lake City and three and a half hours west of Denver. It’s a big oil community, and they built a state-of-the-art convention center with breakout rooms unique features for catering, so organizations don’t have to worry about food when they come here.
They have a Dinosaur Land with a wall of bones, a rock wall on the side of the mountain where you can find chiseled out hundreds of dinosaur bones. They also have white water rafting that is great for summer.
This is a place with welcoming people and great dining choices. They have a town square with dining establishments and musicians that play music in the middle of the town square.
Best dining experience for a great family trip and has great natural beauty.
What is typically perceived as cowboy Texas has so much more to offer. Although it’s a border town, it’s a peaceful town with agencies to keep everyone safe.
You can experience authentic Mexico without leaving the USA.
Adam Stoker is President/CEO of Relic. He’s been working with destinations for nine years, consulting with leisure travel, stakeholder engagement, destination branding, and convention/meetings marketing. He has been featured in the Utah Business and Utah Valley Business Magazines’ 40 Under 40 issues. He now speaks on different industry subjects at tourism conferences across the country, most recently including Utah Tourism Conference and the Texas Travel Summit. As one of the up-and-coming industry thought leaders, Adam’s impact on the industry is just beginning.