Customer Experience

How Hong Kong’s top brands lead with relationships

How Hong Kong’s top brands lead with relationships

At Customers for Life, a recent Vision Critical event in Hong Kong, we immediately felt the grandeur, magnificent presence and ambience of the flagship Mandarin Oriental (MO) hotel in Central Hong Kong as soon as we stepped in. With more than 200 leaders in insight, innovation, marketing and customer experience in attendance, the luxurious MO was the perfect location for the sold-out, informative event.

The action-packed, half-day meetup explored how leading brands in Asia are building emotion-rich brand experiences, while improving customer lifetime value and market share through customer relationships. Here are some key takeaways from this exclusive event.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group: Not all customers are created equal

Michael Hobson of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group was a key draw for many leaders in the room. As CMO, chief commercial officer and board director, Michael is renowned and respected for his role in leading and shaping the direction of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group for the past 26 years.


“Customer loyalty comes from the heart, as opposed to the mind… you have an emotional bond with the customer.”

-Michael Hobson, CMO, chief commercial officer and board director, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group 


With great presence, Michael spoke about the Mandarin’s relationship-driven approach to loyalty that has guided the brand for decades: an enduring passion for excellence and exceptional service. With this approach, Mandarin Oriental (MO) has built a long-standing reputation in service and strengthened its customer relationships over time. Michael also revealed that MO’s new loyalty program, Fans of MO, was co-created with the viewpoints of the company’s most loyal customers.

Key learning:
By understanding different customer groups, you can build more emotion-rich messages that resonate with different core audiences. Fans of MO is designed with this is mind: customers with different needs and preferences are provided different value and experiences through an enhanced guest recognition and engagement program.

Asia Miles: Lead innovation with insight-driven strategies and design thinking

As Hong Kong’s most popular lifestyle and rewards program, Asia Miles is redefining and pushing the boundaries of what modern-day rewards programs look like. According to Adrian Hado, head of Insight, analytics and customer experience, the company is doing so through insight-led innovation strategies and customer-led design thinking approaches—a strategy set from the top by Asia Miles’ highly reputable CEO and design thinking evangelist Stephen S.Y. Wong.

Heading up the core Customer division, Adrian runs the strategy and manages the end-to-end team of customer ambassadors across Asia Miles. His team includes leaders from CX, customer analytics and big data, as well as insights, innovation and design.


“Informed decisions are driven by connecting the hard data and the soft data. It’s about understanding of patterns, relationships and motivations/barriers behind the data, the implications on potential solutions, and the values and attitudes of customers that will create new business value.”

-Adrian Hado, head of insight, analytics and customer experience, Asia Miles


Key learning:
Being insight-driven is about combining the art and science of customer data to create new business value. It’s about informing decisions through the combination of the hard, quantitative data (demographic, transactional, sized) and soft, qualitative data (behavioural, emotional, perceptual).

Illustrating how this can work, May May Wong, customer experience strategist from Asia Miles, shared a design thinking journey for innovation, which led to a new partnership with OpenRice. The result: within six weeks of launch, Asia Miles drove three times the member acquisition year-over-year through the dining partnership—an incredible result for the brand in a very short period of time.

From big data to insight

The final part of the event featured a digital innovation and CX transformation panel:

  • Amran Khamis, head of digital experience, Asia, Sun Life Financial
  • Herbert So, AVP, market insight and consumer research, CSL Mobile
  • Daniel Lai, head of digital, social and CRM, INFINITI Motor Company

These business transformation leaders shared how disruption is bringing both change and opportunity to their organizations. Coming from the insurance, telco and auto industries, the challenges of transformation vastly differed for these leaders. However, whether it was managing big data across millions of mobile customers, driving value across a car owner’s end-to-end customer experience with their vehicle or building better relationships with customers in new marketers to localise insurance services, the speakers agreed on critical things that companies today must do:

  • Transform big data into actionable, contextual insight
  • Compete against the gold standards of CX—set by brands like Uber or Airbnb
  • Drive long term business value through customers relationships
Key learning:
Business transformation is about connecting data from and across your business, technology and customers. It’s about collecting information, knowing how to make it actionable and building an array of products that delight customers and provides value back to the business.

Join the movement

As a part of the CX in the City Asia Series, the Customers are for Life event was for business leaders who are paving the way for customer centricity and reinvention for their respective companies. To watch past presentations or register for upcoming events, visit the CX and the City Asia Pacific Hub.



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