Travel manager finds much to leave home for

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 12:00am

KERRY WONG WAS VISITING Hong Kong from Australia 12 years ago. Her holiday turned into a job and she has never looked back.

She started work in a market research company before landing a job as sales executive for American Express, working her way up to head of strategic relationships for Asia-Pacific.

In 2000, the mother-of-two started with Rosenbluth International, the third largest global corporate travel agency, as their regional general manager for sales and marketing.

Recently, after taking some time out, Ms Wong joined, an online travel company, of which she is the general manager for Hong Kong.

Zuji was set up roughly three years ago through a joint venture with various Asian airlines and a group called Travelocity.

Although the travel industry is hurting, Ms Wong says the company is riding out the storm.

The Informer asked Ms Wong how she escapes the pressures of work and why she has made Hong Kong her home.

Best place for a business lunch

Hmm, hard choice as there are so many great places. But if I have to pick one, above all, it would be Grissini (left). The food is excellent, the setting is quiet but not intimidating and the tiramisu is the best in town.

Favourite hotel

The Banyan Tree in Phuket for it's service, atmosphere and pool villas.

How to unwind when the working day is done

I like to play with the kids or go boating to the outlying islands.

Favourite Asian holiday destination

Club Paradise Palawan on Dimakya Island in the Philippines. It's a place where you can totally escape - no phones, no TV, no work - just you, nature and someone special to share it with.

The trip there is an adventure in itself. It is via air and then overland in a very bumpy jeepney. It is so bumpy that your teeth chatter. The final leg of the journey is by sea.

The adventure is well worth it as you glimpse a view of the island resort. Breathtaking . . . an instant sense of calm overcomes you and stress melts away.

How best to escape the hustle and bustle

Get yourself on a boat and cruise out to sea near Big Wave Bay. Drop anchor near an inlet and just unwind with a picnic lunch and a swim in the sea.

Or take a drive out to the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Beas River Country Clubhouse.

Best and worst Hong Kong experiences

The best, I've had two. The birth of my son and the birth of my daughter. Pain, anxiety, anticipation, excitement and finally a complete sense of utter joy and love - what more could you want out of life?

The worst experience? It was during my first trip to Hong Kong. I was still studying at university and came here for a holiday.

I was in a lift somewhere in Mongkok and when the lift doors opened I, being the inexperienced Hong Kong tourist that I was back then, mistakenly assumed that the people who were going to get in to the lift would wait until those who wanted to get out did so. Boy, was I wrong. I think I took two steps towards the open doors when suddenly, what seemed like a hundred people came pushing their way in to the lift. I saw my life pass before me as I imagined myself being crushed and stuck in that lift forever . . . riding up and down . . . up and down.

Favourite airline

As my company is a joint venture between 16 airlines in Asia-Pacific and Travelocity, I have to say I have 16 favourites. Why? Because they pay my salary.

How to impress a client in Hong Kong

Be unique, be creative, be proactive, be focused and be fun.

Best service and worst service in Hong Kong

The best would be at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (right).

And the worst service? A taxi driver in Hong Kong once yelled at me for trying to pay my fare with a HK$500 bill. I explained that that was all I had in my wallet, but that didn't satisfy him.

All the yelling was over the fact that because he didn't have enough change in the cab, he had to physically get out and go to the boot where he kept his cash box.

To use a tailor, or not to use a tailor

I don't go to tailors. Working for a dotcom, I rarely need to dress up.

On the days when I do suit up, it's usually a choice between Armani or Gucci. Armani is the master of classic tailoring.

Graphic: GHH27gwz

Graphic: HKJC27gwz