19
Apr

2016

How to Manage a World-Class Cable Car: Interview with Stella Kwan, Managing Director of Ngong Ping 360

Post by Gondola Project

Ever wonder what it takes to manage a world-class cable car?

As part of China Daily’s Asia Leadership Roundtable program, they sat down with Ngong Ping 360’s Managing Director, Stella Kwan, to discuss how the cable car is responding to Hong Kong’s unique set of socioeconomic conditions.

Ngong Ping 360. Image by Nicholas Chu.

Ngong Ping 360. Image by Nicholas Chu.

The interview provides great insight and lessons on what prospective cable cars proponents can expect to face and how they can overcome these challenges.

As a quick summary, Stella explains how a cable car system can be affected by both local and regional tourism trends. In particular, she highlights a few key issues that they had to confront in recent times:

  • Higher travel costs to Hong Kong due to currency exchange rates
  • Relaxed visa application processes for Chinese visitors in neighbouring countries (i.e. South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and etc). This means greater competition for the lucrative Chinese market as ~25% of its ridership is from the mainland
  • Increasing number of tourist attractions in Asia-Pacific area

Despite these challenges, the cable car was still able to attract 1.62 million riders in 2015 — bringing in an annual revenue of US$44.7 million (HK$347 million)! This perhaps shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as the cable car is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the world’s most profitable transit agencies, MTR Corp Ltd.

To promote the cable car and remain competitive, the company has strengthened digital marketing efforts to attract more locals and corporate events.

From an operational standpoint, the Hong Kong cable car has implemented a very unique and innovative solution to address its human resource challenges.

As many operators can perhaps attest to, finding specialized ropeway technicians to operate and maintain a cable car is not the easiest task.

In a 2011 article by the South China Morning Post, the head of operations discussed how staff must undergo extensive in-house training program (takes up to 5 years) before they gain the skills necessary to oversee operations.

To address this skill shortage, Ngong Ping 360 set up a 2-year Cable Car Technology course in 2014 to train the next generation of local ropeway technicians. The course, which is recognized by the Hong Kong administration, so far appears to be a success as the system has subsequently hired several of its graduates.

All in all, Stella goes into more details on other strategies the cable car has employed to maintain its competitiveness and provides valuable advice for youngsters looking to start a career in the tourism industry.

Click here for the full article.

 



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