Learning from the tram business

June 28, 2023 09:48
Image: Instagram

Is there a transport company in Hong Kong that has no plan to raise fares?

Even better, it has no plan to import labour.

Above all, it's been offering free rides for almost one in five weekends or holidays. In fact, it is free starting this weekend for five straight days.

Enter Ding Ding, aka Hong Kong Tramways, one of Hong Kong’s biggest tourist attractions and local favourite , though probably except during summer daytime.

At just HK$3 a ride, the double-decker, run by the French transport company RATP Dev Asia since 2009 after taking over from the Wharf Group, is the cheapest local transport means. It got a price hike from HK$2.6 last July but not many complaints were heard.

With a history of 119 years, the tram company has found a secret success recipe in corporate sponsoring.

Last year, a dozen companies or entities sponsored a free ride day as part of their celebrations, for HK$1 million each time. That together with advertising revenue made up half of its total revenue last year.

Corporate sponsors who are willing to pay an undemanding HK$1 million – or about 14 cents per capita, would achieve usually good publicity. That explains why it is getting more sponsors.

Next month, for example, would see the Bank of China Hong Kong, China Merchants, China Resources, China Travel and China Pacific Insurance along with the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association offer free tram rides from July 1st to 5th to celebrate the 26th anniversary of Hong Kong return’s to China.

Sponsors were not limited to companies. In 2022, the fan club of Keung To, the lead singer of the popular band Mirror sponsored a free tram ride as a gift to their idol.

For the second time on Apr 30th, the birthday of Keung, the “Keung Candies” sponsored the tram ride to say love to their 24-year-old idol by playing one of his hit songs “The Love Without Words”.

Keung To fans’ idea has also inspired fans from another club such as Anson Lo, a teammate of Keung, to offer free ferry rides on Lo’s birthday on July 7th.

One other nice thing to learn about the tram business was its capacity went back to 90 per cent of the pre-pandemic level, a remarkable achievement while some industries are still suffering from a continuing exodus that has seen over 200,000 people leave the city for good in recent years.

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EJ Insight writer