Greetings from Asia. I’m here on business once or twice per year. Sophisticated international traveler that I am, I forgot that my China visa had expired in early June. So instead of flying to Beijing as planned, I unexpectedly ended up in Hong Kong where I needed to get my China visa in order to proceed to Shanghai. Not a smart move on my part, but it goes to show that with a little flexibility and a lot of help from my colleagues there is always opportunity.
Despite no notice of my visit, Joseph Lam and Karen Lo, Royal Caribbean’s representatives in Hong Kong, created a highly productive day in one of the world’s great cities. Joseph and Karen work for Lotus Tours. By contract, Lotus is our International Representative (IR) in Hong Kong and has represented us for nearly 20 years. What does “represented us” mean? It means that Lotus Tours acts as Royal Caribbean in Hong Kong for Sales & Marketing purposes, training and supporting the travel agents, working with the government, media and airline partners, and taking the reservations of our cruises. Given that Legend of the Seas will have seven cruises based in Hong Kong next year, Joseph and Karen and their team are responsible for providing many of the guests for those cruises.
I was able to do a significant interview with a journalist from the South China Morning Post, meet with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and separately with the Tourism Commissioner of Hong Kong and her team and co-host with Joseph and Karen, a dinner with some of our top producing travel agents in Hong Kong. All of that followed lunch with Mr. H.P Kong, owner of Lotus Tours, age 84 going on 34, and one of the most remarkable people I have ever met in the travel business.
Hong Kong has taken a longer than desirable amount of time to commit to building a modern cruise terminal complex to support today’s ships. The plans are well underway now, however, and by 2013 even the very largest cruise ships will have a proper home in one of the world’s most spectacular harbors.
Thanks to Joseph and Karen for making lemonade out of the lemon of my expired visa. They are a great example of the loyalty, dedication and expertise of our worldwide network of IR’s, many of whom have been my friends and colleagues for 18 years.