Upcoming Event: Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong

Breakfast, Thursday, 31 May 2018

Speaker Series:
SONG HOI-SEE, Founder & CEO, Plaza Premium Group
First Class for the Rest of UsHow Downgrade to Economy Led to Creation of the World's Largest Independent Airport Lounge Operator, Seeing Profit Where Airlines Saw Headaches, and Revolutionized the in-Airport Travel Experience 

08:00 Registration
08:30 Breakfast & Remarks, followed by Q&A
10:00 Close & Post-Event Interaction
China Club, 13/F, The Old Bank of China Building, Bank Street, Central, HK
NB: please note strict China Club dress code (no t-shirts, polo shirts, shorts/short trousers, sandals, trainers or slippers permitted)

Cost & Registration: 
To register, CLICK HERE to RSVP and PAY NOW. For breakfast menu, please CLICK HERE.

Prepaid Online Early Bird Credit Card/PayPal Registration: HKD 470 (if paid online by 23:59 Tuesday night, 29 May). Cash Pre-Registration or Late Bird Online Pre-Payment or Walk-Ins: HKD 670. Only Exact Cash Payment accepted at the Door (whether Cash Pre-Registration or Walk-In). No change provided and no credit cards/checks accepted. No refunds for no-shows or post-payment cancellations.

Early Bird pre-paid registration is strongly encouraged. Questions/problems? Contact the Chapter at vp@stanfordgsbhk.org

Guests permitted.

Speaker's Bio
See below

Event Details:

The Stanford GSB Chapter of Hong Kong is pleased to invite you to breakfast and conversation with Song Hoi-See, founder of Plaza Premium Group (PPG), the world’s first and largest operator of independent airport lounges (non-airline run).

Were it an airline, PPG's 14 million annual passengers would place it among the world's 25 largest int'l carriers. With 170 lounges across 40 int'l airports, it has been consistently named by Skytrax the world's best independent lounge operator; under its Airtel brand, is now the world's largest chain of airport transit hotels; and runs a growing in-airport loyalty program (Arrture), passenger meet/greet services (Allways) and related F&B operations. A recent interview by Song can be found here.

Like many great business, it all began with a customer’s frustration. Song, having left his job at Lehman Brothers to found was what then one of Asia’s first serviced office companies was now “downgraded” to flying the cheapest tickets he could get. Without lounge access, he discovered himself in a suit hunting around airport floor bases simply to find an empty socket to charge his laptop, a place to send a fax (back then) and a quiet place to work between flights. Realizing that airlines were focusing on their premium passengers to the exclusion of the 80% flying economy, Song realized there was an opportunity for a lounge “for the rest of us”. Yet even though his first two locations included the world’s 3rd busiest int’l airport (HKIA), PPG started out more as a curiosity, or even an obscurity, than as a core airport asset. It was only when his banking DNA led him to convince premium credit card companies/financial institutions to offer PPG lounge access as a prized benefit that an industry revolution truly began.

Song’s other efficiency gap insight was to turn an industry problem into an asset/industry solution. 

For airports, retail tenancies can represent up to 80% of profits. Over-allocating real estate to under-used airport lounges comes at a great cost, as does operating/justifying such lounge for an airline with only a handful of flights. As such, his lounges soon became “business class for the other airlines” as well, and a critical solution/tool for airports and airlines alike. Soon airlines began to realize that PPG could run their own money-losing lounges better than they could, with PPG managing lounges for Cathay Pacific, China Southern, China Eastern, Lufthansa, British Airways, Thai Airways, Korean Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and SkyTeam, among others. Global financial institutions such as American Express also turned to PPG to design, build and manage their growing footprint of branded lounges (including Asia’s first Centurion Lounge in HKIA).

Yet challenges remain. How to place priorities out of the world's 1,200 top tier int'l airports (and more than 17,500 airports, overall, globally)? How to make PPG’s own brand identity as top of passenger mind as the airline's on the ticket? How to crack China, perhaps the biggest prize of all (with 5.7 billion domestic and 127 MM outbound trips)? And, finally, as a family business, what are the leadership/succession challenges as PPG continues to grow?

The Stanford GSB Chapter of HK could not be more pleased to have one of Hong Kong’s (and Malaysia’s) hometown champions share his frank thoughts on an “under the radar” business that has created extraordinary value and benefits for its customers and stakeholders alike.

Speaker's Bio: SONG Hoi-See

Song Hoi-See is the Founder/CEO of Plaza Premium Group, the world’s largest operator of independent premium airport lounges, the owner of its largest chain of in-transit airport hotels and a leading operating of airport F&B, VIP on-ground passengers services and related loyalty programs.  

Mr. Song began his career with Lehman Brothers, first in New York, then in Hong Kong, eventually rising after 7 years to become its youngest-ever Head of Private Banking for Asia before leaving to start one of Asia’s first serviced offices companies. Following its successful sale to Regus (now IWG plc), he then founded Plaza Premium Group, creating the world’s first independent airport lounges (i.e., not operated/branded by the airlines themselves). Under his 20+ year leadership, Plaza Premium Group (PPG) has grown from two initial locations at HKIA and at Malaysia’s KLIA in 1998 to more than 160 locations in 37 airports, globally, along with 6 Aerotel airport transit lounges (with 4 more opening shortly). 

Separate from PPG’s own recognition (including consecutively winning Skytrax’s Best Independent Airport Lounge Worldwide since its 2016 inauguration), Mr. Song’s personal recognition includes being named 2017 Business Person of the Year by the Sin Chew Media Group; 2015 Male Entrepreneur of the Year by Malaysia’s Star Media Group; and Recipient of the 2014 SCMP’s Hong Kong Business Awards, among others.

In addition to his business endeavors, Mr. Song is co-founder and Vice Chairman of the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong; former chairman of the HK Airport Manager Association (HAMA); and a past member of the World Economics Committee of the Airport Councils International (ACI). He is also a past president of the Rotary Club of Shatin. Mr. Song is married, with both his wife, Linda, and his two children, Mei Mei and Jonathan, playing senior leadership roles with the Group.