Zemans give technology upgrade to Halloween in Hong Kong

Monster Mash app launched to drive more customers into Lan Kwai Fong, city’s famous bar and restaurant hub

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 October, 2016, 11:08am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 October, 2016, 10:39pm

Allan Zeman, the chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Group who 30 years ago launched the Halloween costume fanfare in the popular Hong Kong bar and restaurant area, is joining hands this year with his son Jonathan to use new technology to catch ghosts, witches and monsters, and in turn, hopefully more paying customers.

The two have launched a mobile phone app, called as “LKF Monster Mash”, which will allow Lan Kwai Fong revellers to use their mobile phone to “capture” monsters there, and then send selfies to share with friends via social media.

Zeman Snr is known locally as the “father of Lan Kwai Fong” after turning the central district into a tourist hotspot, which now has some 300 bars and restaurants.

All kinds of companies will be able to get in on the act too, from financial services firms to retailers, gyms and startups in the area.

Each zombie captured will also bring with it a restaurant or drink voucher, and the chance to win the top prize of Delta Air lines tickets to the US.

As well as the Halloween fanfare, Zeman organises the Christmas countdown and music festival, which attracts thousands annually.

He admits the latest move follows his usual strategy of using events to drive customers into the area, but hopes the technological and selfie twist will appeal strongly to the latest fads. He insists it is not related to the downturn in tourists to Hong Kong.

“Lan Kwai Fong doesn’t rely on tourists as so many locals and expatriates visit the area regularly. We actually had a pretty good summer,” he told South China Morning Post in an interview at his office, of course, in Lan Kwai Fong.

“The new app is more related to the latest customer trends. Nowadays all young people like to use their mobile to selfie and to share information and photos with their friends. We are just providing what the customers wants.”

We don’t want people to think of Lan Kwai Fong as just a food and drink area but as Hong Kong’s trendiest lifestyle location
Jonathan Zeman, chief executive, Lan Kwai Fong Group

Jonathan is chief executive of the group, and in charge of technology development.

Zeman Jnr said the LKF app was developed before the popular Pokemon Go app, and it will now be used to accompany all the firm’s later events.

“The app meets with the cultural demands of the sharing economy, which nowadays sees customers wanting to share everything with their friends via mobile,” he said.

The app also provides on-screen stickers for selfie photos before they are sent, as well having photos available of he and his father.

Allan Zeman remembers that when he first arrived in Hong Kong from Canada 41 years ago, no one celebrated Halloween.

“It was very much American culture, and neither the Chinese nor the British in Hong Kong cared much about Halloween. When I was a child in Montreal, we always made costumes for Halloween to play the trick or treat,” he said.

He introduced the Halloween event in Lan Kwai Fong in 1986, but it was initially only westerners who donned ghost and witch outfits.

“The local Chinese looked at us very curiously, but from the second year onwards, we started to see them joining in, and now everybody is going to it,” he said.

But Jonathan Zeman says the event isn’t all about ghoulish fashion, it also means good business.

“It brings in more visitors to Lan Kwai Fong, and that’s clearly good for the bars and restaurants in the area,” he said.

“We can easily modify Monster Mash for Christmas and other events.

“We don’t want people to think of Lan Kwai Fong as just a food and drink area, but as Hong Kong’s trendiest lifestyle location.”