Working in China, Part 4: Managing the Work

June 26, 2015

The team behind the Lao Niu Discovery Museum of the CNCC visits JRA's offices. From left, Mrs. Loretta Luke Yajima, JRA's Mike Meyer, Ms. Ni Zhang, Mr. Xuecheng Zhou and Ms. Hongxiao Li

The team behind the Lao Niu Discovery Museum of the CNCC visits JRA's offices. From left, Mrs. Loretta Luke Yajima, JRA's Mike Meyer, Ms. Ni Zhang, Mr. Xuecheng Zhou and Ms. Hongxiao Li

So you’ve finally signed the contract and work has started, but that's not the end of it. Instead, you’ve only begun your journey toward a new set of challenges.

It’s About Relationships
One of the most underestimated aspects of doing business in China is the value of maintaining an ongoing personal relationship with your client throughout the duration of the project. Keeping the client happy has a lot to do with the work you are providing them, but not entirely. Western firms often overlook this crucial aspect because we believe that if we do our work the client should be happy and we should be paid on time. Conversely, your Chinese competitors will spend more time "courting the client” even after the contract is signed - to ensure that the ongoing work process continues to go smoothly, which will hopefully result in getting paid, and in a timely manner. This does not mean that you have to take your client out to dinner every month or call every week. But checking on them from time to time to provide information or to just listen to their thoughts and concerns can make a world of difference.

Your relationship manager shouldn’t be your design lead, or chief analyst, or production manager, etc., as this can often muddy the waters between the needs of the project and the needs of the relationship. Instead, this should be an account executive or principal, someone who manages the project from a contractual standpoint, who focuses on keeping the communication positive and the client happy.

Always More to Learn
It’s important to remember that even once you successfully enter and compete in the Chinese market, there will always be much to learn as the business environment and cultural landscape continues to evolve.

For example, as you begin to make more in-roads into the Chinese market, you
may ask:

  • • What is the difference between a client who is a private developer and a government official?
  • • Why do some provinces have different tax terms?
  • • Why don't they conduct a feasibility study?
  • • What makes them think they can make that crazy opening date?
  • • Did they really get the land?
  • • Should I find a Chinese firm to be my partner?

These are all important issues that need to be understood in order for you to approach proposals and projects in the proper manner. By discussing these issues with your fellow industry professionals and learning from their first-hand experiences, you will be better prepared to understand and adapt to these issues as they come to light in your own business dealings. Hiring a local representative can also provide a great deal of insight and may be well worth the cost of consulting fees.

In conclusion, China is a complex yet dynamic market that will offer great opportunities to those who truly commit to adapting themselves to best fit the market and culture. It just takes patience, a willingness to learn, a flexible approach and an ongoing commitment.


 

Tags: Asia , Blog N Learn , JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

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Working in China, Part 3: Using Outside Consultants to Get the Job

June 19, 2015

In our last segment, we discussed the importance of changing your business mentality and communication style when bidding on projects in China.


Guangdong Science Center

4. Getting It Right: Accurate Translation
Sounds simple, but are you sure your portfolio is properly translated or what you say in a presentation is accurately interpreted, so that the decision maker on the client side (who usually does not understand English) gets your message? Often, we all spend a lot of time writing an elaborate proposal or preparing a graphically beautiful package, but the only problem is - it's not in Chinese, or, even worse, it's poorly translated by a translation company that has as much insight into your business as they do with insurance or banking. High quality translation or interpretation cannot be overestimated. It's worth the time to locate professional translators that have experience in working in your specific line of business, who understand what you do, who care enough to take the time and exert the effort to get things right.

5. Get A Guide
If you were to go scuba diving in new waters, chances are you’ll go with a guide. What about navigating the waters of business in China? Even if you have been there many times, it never hurts to have a local resource to help you guide through unfamiliar territory. The sooner you acknowledge the barriers and get help, the sooner you are off to a more efficient and enjoyable journey.

Hiring a guide allows you to focus on what you do best – your business – instead of worrying about how to hail a taxi or how to interpret broken English. It is a small price to pay to engage a consultant who is versed in the Chinese business environment and understands its unique set of subtleties and underlying minutiae. Not only will this help you be more productive in your pursuit of qualified leads, but will also save you a lot of time spent in pursuing “opportunities” that are really wild goose chases. A knowledgeable representative can help you avoid potential clients just looking for free creative, will keep you away from participating in competitions in which you don't stand a good chance to win and can protect you from clients who just want to use your proposals as bargaining chips against your competition.

So you’ve gotten the job – congratulations! Now what? We’ll tackle that question in our final segment.
 

Tags: Asia , Blog N Learn , JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

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Discover, Create, Engage: Behind the Scenes at the 2015 IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo

June 10, 2015

To register for the 2015 IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo, visit www.iaapa.org.

To register for the 2015 IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo, visit www.iaapa.org.

Next week, thousands of industry professionals from around the globe will gather in Hong Kong, China for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions' 2015 Asian Attractions Expo (AAE). AAE invites participants to "Discover, Create, Engage", offering four days of networking, eight educational sessions, 19 hours of show floor time, and a variety of special events and tours - all designed specifically for the Asian attractions market. JRA is honored to be a platinum sponsor of the Asian Attractions Expo.

Here's the 2015 IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo by the numbers:

  • 7,000 Attractions industry professionals
  • 65 Countries represented
  • 5,000 Qualified buyers
  • 300 Exhibiting companies
  • 26% Increase in total participants over 2012 (last Hong Kong AAE)
  • 8,500 square meters of trade show floor space (versus 6,400 square meters in 2012)

With all of this growth and excitement, JRA was curious to see how the whole Expo comes together, and the IAAPA PR Team was gracious enough to share their secrets and tricks of the trade: 

JRA: When does planning for the AAE begin? How far in advance is the host city chosen?
IAAPA:
 Planning for AAE is a lengthy process that begins with the selection of the host city, which is itself a complex, multi-year process that involves discussions with and input from IAAPA’s volunteer leadership.

JRA: Why is Hong Kong particularly suited to host AAE?
IAAPA:
Hong Kong is known for its sophisticated infrastructure, accessibility, business-friendly environment, professional expertise, and vibrant lifestyle. Located within a five-hour flight of 50 percent of the world’s population, Hong Kong is recognized as one of Asia’s premier destinations for meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibition.

The city boasts several world-renowned attractions for Asian Attractions Expo participants to enjoy, including a cruise around the island from the newly built Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, a breathtaking view of the city from Victoria Peak, or new attractions at rapidly expanding theme parks Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park Hong Kong.


 
JRA: How many IAAPA staff and volunteers work on AAE (approximately)?
IAAPA:
A majority of the IAAPA staff has a role in the planning and production of AAE as the show is comprehensive and involves most departments within IAAPA. We work approximately five partner companies to assist in advance of AAE and on-site with marketing, registration, show floor set up, safety and security, and more. In addition, we have 14 ambassadors, young professionals in the attractions industry, who volunteer to assist us during the week.

Also, IAAPA’s Asian Pacific Advisory Committee and Asian Pacific Education Subcommittee is involved with the planning and development of the education program, and there are several individuals who volunteer to be a session speaker as well as member facilities that partner with us for off-site tour and help us produce a top-quality education program.

JRA: What are some of the new components or highlights of this year's AAE?
IAAPA:
 Each year the show contains the newest products and services and the latest innovations in rides, attractions, ticketing, food and beverage, and more. This year the trade show floor will feature 69 first-time exhibitors.
 
Leadership Breakfast Keynote Speaker: Jim Reid-Anderson, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation—the world’s largest regional theme park company with $1.1 billion in revenue and 18 parks across North America—will deliver the keynote address at the 2015 Asian Attractions Expo Leadership Breakfast.

Opening Night Event at Hong Kong Disneyland: Attendees will mix, mingle, and recap the first day of the Expo while enjoying rides and a new spectacular night parade at Hong Kong Disneyland. Attractions open will include the recently finished Mystic Point area, featuring the "Mystic Manor" ride, and Grizzly's Gulch, featuring the "Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars" steel roller coaster. Guests will also experience Hong Kong Disneyland's "Disney Paint the Night" parade, which debuted in October 2014.

Education Conference:
Eight diverse education sessions. Topics will cover key aspects of the industry, including safety and maintenance, innovation, human resources, marketing, and more led by industry veterans and experts.

Featured New Speakers:
Lynton V. Harris, Chairman and CEO, The Sudden Impact! Entertainment Company
Weitao Liu, Director of Sales – China Region, Triotech
Christina Tse, Director of Marketing Communications, The Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott

IAAPA Safety Institute: During this full-day program, industry experts will share best practices on topics affecting your business such as safety, standards, security, and ride operations, as they share insight into the best practices in safety operations during this full-day institute program.

IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers:
The two-and-a-half day program is an in-depth study of five core subject areas for successful attractions operation: Finance, Operations and Safety, Marketing and Communications, Revenue Operations, and Human Resources and Leadership.

JRA: How has AAE changed over the years, particularly given the rapid growth in the Asian attractions market?
IAAPA:
 The growth of the trade show floor is a good example of how Asian Attractions Expo mirrors the growth of the industry. As new parks, attractions, and properties are developed, the demand for new products and service - as well as quality education within the region - is increasing, and we have seen that reflected in our numbers.

We have also made a concerted effort to ensure the education program is comprehensive and offers fresh learning by adding new speakers and session topics.

JRA: What would you like attendees to walk away with? What's the takeaway?

IAAPA:
Asian Attractions Expo is the place for amusement park and attractions industry professionals from the Asia-Pacific region to gather together to purchase products and services; learn about what’s new, trends, and best practices in the attractions industry; and connect with other industry professionals.

Participants walk away with new business relationships, business leads, and potential clients, and insights into the latest innovations, products, and services, and better knowledge and understanding of key operational areas.

-----

Many thanks to Colleen Mangone and Dave Mandt for the interview, and to the entire IAAPA staff for what we're sure will be a fantastic Expo! Next week, stay tuned to this blog, as well as our Facebook and Twitter feeds (hashtag #IAE15) for all the details as reported by our very own Chloe James Hausfeld. And if you're in Hong Kong, be sure to visit us at Booth 1424. See you at the Expo!

Keith James and Chloe James Hausfeld are ready to greet you in Hong Kong!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

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Working in China: An Overview of the Basics

June 05, 2015

Part One: Asking the Right Questions

This month, thousands of industry professionals will gather in Hong Kong for the IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo. China is one of the fastest entertainment markets in the wold, and brings with it both opportunities and challenges. In this four-part series, JRA VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy, and 321 Consulting CEO, Dawn Tong, discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in one of the world’s most exciting markets.

HarborLand - Ningbao, China

Over the last decade, China has aggressively moved forward with the planning, design and implementation of a variety of high-quality theme parks, museums, expos and mixed-use developments. But for those of us who have pursued and/or created projects in China, it has become evident that in order to reap the rewards of the world’s fastest growing market, you must overcome a series of seemingly never-ending challenges. How can those who have yet to approach this market do so in an effective manner? How can those who currently work in China become more efficient and more profitable? The following provides some thoughts to consider as you develop and refine your own strategy for approaching China.

When doing business in China, it’s easy to forget that you still need to analyze the opportunity and environment like you would when looking at any other business opportunity, and ask yourself basic questions, such as:

  • • What are my peers and competitors doing to go after this market?
  • • Are there local resources that can provide what I am offering?
  • • Is my price as competitive as it can be?
  • • Is there substantial demand for my services?
  • • What is my specific target market?
  • • How do I balance my short-term needs with my long-term strategies?

But let's face it, doing business in China is difficult. What do the Chinese mean when they say "we like your work and we will contact you soon?” Why do they always bargain? “When are they going to sign the contract, it’s been months!” In most cases, potential Chinese clients don’t intend to waste your time or money, it's just that they do business differently.

Now that we’ve teased you with the questions, in our next blog will offer some potential answers.
 

Tags: Blog N Learn , JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

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The Grand Hall Experience Brings a Thea Award Home to St. Louis

March 25, 2015

All photos courtesy Christopher Chien for TEA unless noted.

All photos courtesy Christopher Chien for TEA unless noted.

Last weekend, industry leaders from around the globe donned their black tie finery for the Themed Entertainment Association's Thea Awards Gala, hosted at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.  The Awards, considered the "Oscars" of the themed entertainment industry, celebrate the year's greatest achievements in the creation of blockbuster museums, theme parks, science centers and attractions. This year's 21st annual Gala, which enjoyed a record attendance of over 500, recognized 15 projects, featuring everything from wizards to rats to little grey tractors.

Among those projects lauded at the ceremony was The Grand Hall Experience at St. Louis Union Station. In 2012, Lodging Hospitality Management purchased the 120-year-old Union Station with the goal of driving attendance to the station’s Grand Hall and adjacent bar/hotel. Their challenge for the $66.3 million renovation was to accomplish this transformation without compromising the building's architectural integrity. One component of their overall solution was The Grand Hall Experience – a $1.8 million, ultra high-definition projection mapping show. Offered several times nightly and free to the public, the show is the first of its kind in the United States. According the the Thea Awards Committee, the Grand Hall Experience "...has rejuvenated a National Historic Landmark with an engaging dynamic space that allows the audience to see the architecture in a whole new way."

 

The day before the Awards were presented, the TEA hosted its annual two-day Summit, at which each award recipient had the opportunity to present a case study on the challenges, opportunities and keys to success of their projects. JRA VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy, offered a brief history of Union Station - from its opening in 1894, to its newsmaking moment as the backdrop for the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" photograph, to its hard times as the demand for rail travel waned. He then recounted the unique challenges of creating the attraction, specifically the fact that, due to the building's historic status, projectors and lights could not be mounted in any way that would mar the physical building.

Technomedia's Drew Atienza then explained the "how" behind its designs for and execution of the Grand Hall Experience. Projected on the Grand Hall’s 65-foot tall, barrel-vaulted ceilings and across the entire space, the 3-D presentation is made up of a multitude of vignettes, taking guests on a fantastic journey from the depths of the sea to the Sistine Chapel to St. Louis’s Busch Stadium. The 16-projector holographic light show employs 14 high-resolution projectors, digital media servers, consolidated control, 10-channel surround audio, and an LED lighting system to elevate the space and immerse the audience in the media event. Celebrity narration further enhances the experience, with St. Louis notables John Goodman, Bob Costas and John Hamm lending their voices to the show.

The following night at the Awards Gala, Bob O'Loughlin, LHM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, thanked his team and consultants. Since its opening on May 10, 2014, the Grand Hall Experience has generated both valuable PR as well as an increase of over 125% in attendance to the Grand Hall.  Most importantly, the attraction has helped a new generation of visitors appreciate the grandeur and historic significance of St. Louis Union Station.

Here are some photos from the weekend's festivities:

Shawn McCoy offers a brief history of Union Station, from its glory days to its not-so-glorious hard times pre-renovation.

Shawn and Technomedia's Drew Atienza present the final product for the Grand Hall Experience at Union Station.

Each project had the opportunity to produce a "making of" video for the Thea Awards Gala. Here, Shawn recounts the genesis of the idea for transforming Union Station's Grand Hall via projection mapping.

Bob O'Loughlin accepts the award for The Grand Hall Experience.

George Bauer, Bob O'Loughlin and Steve O'Loughlin (LHM President and COO) pose with their award and a photo of their project. In-house photo.

JRA would like to congratulate all of the recipients of the 2015 Thea Awards!

We're taking a little siesta next week, but come back in two weeks when we begin our month-long "Spring Into Museums" series on April 6!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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