A key for a business being internationally successful is to understand different cultures and their practice. With many international / multinational businesses taking off in Hong Kong and China, hoping to broach the Chinese market, it is definitely worth understanding the business implications Chinese New Year bring to your business.
Chinese New Year, a.k.a. Lunar New Year or abbreviated as CNY hereinafter, is the most celebrated festival in Hong Kong, mainland China, Macau, Taiwan as well as people of Chinese heritage around the world such as Singapore. Unlike western New Year which is on the first of January, CNY usually lies between January and February; this year, CNY holiday will officially begin on 16 Feb 2018 (Friday).
While the festival is well celebrated among Chinese, this implies a peak season for family travel and hotel rates are relatively higher. The festive period also implies a nationwide shutdown hence causing business disruption. Of course, having better understanding towards CNY can help to turn those threats into opportunities and reinforce the relationships with Chinese clients. This guide, written by CTM HK, aims to provide you the smart tips in conducting business / business travel during the festive period.
Business Travel during CNY – Reschedule
As fore-mentioned, the room rates are relatively higher and most companies will be closed for the holiday break, therefore, avoid travelling to the area for business across the Chinese New Year period – usually a week prior and after – as most of the staff are already away for holidays, especially in China.
Business Travel during CNY – Building Better Business Relations
If travelling to the area across the Chinese New Year period is imperative, then make it before the festival rather than in March, as Chinese culture prefers an early greeting.
What to say: Greet your contacts in Hong Kong or China with some cheerful blessings, learn to speak the most popular greeting “Kung Hei Fat Choy” (in Cantonese, applies in Hong Kong) or “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (in Mandarin, applies in China, Taiwan and Singapore) – means congratulations for your wealth – will definitely help to build your rapport among your contacts.
What to gift: Gifting is a norm during Chinese New Year, it is not necessary but a way to show your appreciation and reinforce the relationship (of course, we are not asking you to bribe, so avoid choosing something that is too costly – yet not too inexpensive). Play safe with something shareable such as fruits and snacks so all the staff member can share.
What to wear: Red is the most iconic colour for Chinese New Year. Wear something contains the hue will be a nice way to show how well you understand the culture. Or purple and golden colours will do the same job.
What to do if your Manufacturing Suppliers are Based in China
CNY holidays lasts for three days in Hong Kong and a week in China, however many factories in China close down about 10 days before and after Chinese New Year to allow time for workers to travel home. The nationwide shutdown implies production and shipping disruptions before and after the period, which could also affect the freight cost and quality. To better plan for CNY, here are some tips:
Forecast & inventory control: Forecast the quantity you will need for the first few months of next year, so that you can order the precise amount and have enough inventory over the Chinese New Year period.
Relationship with supplier: Check with the supplier for the last order deadline and prepare the materials on time.
Quality management: The busy production schedule may lead to quality issue. Be well plan and make the order ahead the festive period – to ensure enough time for communications and inspection thus minimise the risk.
Logistic management: As the port areas will close before, during and after the Chinese New Year period, be sure to book the shipment ahead. Also, make your order and shipment in advance to avoid any delay and increased freight cost due to intensive loading and shortage of labour.
About CNY 2018
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Chinese New Year 2018 will be the Year of the Dog; therefore if you are travelling to the areas for business, you will see the CNY decorations incorporating with our furry friends almost everywhere. Despite the disruption in business hour and costly room rate, CNY provides a great bleisure opportunity with the culturally-rich traditions.
Hong Kong: Where there’s a festival, there’s food! Chinese New Year is the moment for you to taste the traditional Chinese delicacies and we strongly recommend you to try the Poon Choi (literally means dishes served in a basin, with a fortune meaning of filled up with lucks and prosperity) – this is a one-pot dish generally comprises of roasted duck, prawns, dried mushroom, dried oysters and abalone prepared and served on special occasions. For downtown fun, check out the flower markets, International Chinese New Year Night Parade and fireworks display, click here for more details.
Singapore: If you head to this tropical country during Chinese New Year, be sure not to miss out the Lo Hei dish! The ingredients including sashimi will be tossed before eating, symbolises tossing up good fortune.
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