Hong Kong Learning and Teaching expo 2014

This is or reflections on the second part of our BESA led trade mission to the ASEAN market.

In our previous Blog we wrote of the BES Asia event in Kula Lumpur, and unlike that event Hong Kong’s Learning and Teaching expo was not a UK company exclusive event and was really quite a different event in feel and flavour.

This event – a Thursday to Saturday event was held in the hugely impressive Hong Kong convention centre on the harbour front opposite Kowloon in Wan Chi.

The convention centre is on a massive scale, but the expo itself is about 30% to 40% of the size of Learning Technologies event held annually in London, or 20% of the BETT show with exhibitors much more aligned to the BETT market than the corporate Learning Technologies market.

The event was dominated by large Hong Kong or Chinese shiny technology vendors, the big international players such as Microsoft, Google or Pearson were not present, unlike BETT.

The UK party was excellently managed by BESA and well supported by UKTI having a defined presence at the event. UKTI had a dedicated business meeting zone with complementary refreshment and a buffet lunch on one day for exhibitors and potential customers which was very popular and very well done indeed.

As noted the majority of vendors exhibiting were Chinese or Hong Kong Chinese companies. There was a diverse range of companies, with  a high emphasis on hardware and a reasonable number offering edtech software but very few exhibitors offering e-learning content.

The UKTI market brief delivered on the evening prior to the exhibition opening was very useful introducing us to the nature of the market and telling exhibitors of the fearsome “tiger mums” of Hong Kong!

There is no doubt that education is a huge and growing market in Hong Kong. 27% of GDP is spent on education in Hong Kong, the UK spends 7% of GDP I believe and this trend and desire for education is spilling over into mainland China. There was a large number of start- up businesses in attendance, with serious investments being made in the education market.

My favourite anecdote of this event was to learn that Hong Kong telecom is investing hugely in on-line education provision, and I could not but help draw the parallel with BT in the UK  who is likewise investing hugely…. but in providing televised football for the UK consumer. Is there a lesson to be learnt here?

The opening day was well attended  with high profile speakers opening the events in the main hall. In addition there were 2 smaller seminar theatres, one being used exclusively by the BESA UK party for exhibitors to run presentations over the 3 days.

The seminars were generally well attended.

Thursday proved a busy day with a wide range of delegates attending, international schools and private education establishments visited in large numbers.

So while Thursday was pretty busy Friday was quieter in our view, but Saturday was promised to be the really good day……..but…… Saturday morning was busy, but the exhibition trailed off badly in the afternoon…..maybe we were tired as well.

The quietness of Friday was mitigated by an excellent reception organised by the exhibition organisers which had a small awards ceremony and provided some excellent networking opportunities, with UKTI again really playing a very good role in match making!

Delegates at the event were principally from Hong Kong and mainland China, but there was a surprisingly high number of UK and Australian origin teachers attending and it is clear that UK education is held in high esteem in this market.

Delegates looking at our e-learning materials were very interested in Science materials and ESOL materials. While many professed to have a LMS (Moodle had huge resonance), how the LMS was being used appeared less clear……not well would be my view!

The e-learning was generally well received and we hope that the UK’s undoubted skills in making creative engaging e-learning can help companies succeed in this fast growing market.

A little niggle..… with many exhibitions avaricious organisers have to be factored in for and closely watched. Internet was expensive and requires a deposit which does not prove easy to get refunded for…even yet as we write this blog no refund has been made. In addition the internet provision uses up the only power supply socket on your stand…..am I paying twice and being done? The option or offer to have your stand customised with your logos was not very well made, unlike the BES Asia event which meant few of the UK stands really stood out as well as they should.

In summary an interesting experience and exhibition in an interesting and expanding market but the exhibition needs a little more polish and the exhibition organisers would do well to give  a little consideration for exhibitors from afar.