Corporate Event Destination in Asia - Beijing vs Shanghai
China is a country rich in history and culture and one that for three millennia looked inwards; yet today China is undergoing rapid cultural change as commerce soars to new heights and modern skyscrapers rear up across its’ biggest cities. This dizzying modernisation contrasted with the country’s ancient history makes China a fascinating event destination, but with so many huge creative and commercial centres springing up around the country where is the best place to hold your corporate event?
One of China’s six ancient cities and the country’s capital, Beijing is the nations’ cultural, political and commercial centre. With over 4.4 million Chinese visitors each year and many more from around the globe, in 2009 the International Congress and Convention Association ranked Beijing at number 10 as one of the world’s best locations for meetings and conventions. Since then Beijing’s reputation as a much sought after event destination has grown.
Nicknamed the ‘First Door of China, ’Beijing boasts China’s largest international airport ‘Capital International Airport’. The airport’s three terminals and runways transport 65million passengers to over 223 destinations around the world on 90 different airlines every year. It is also the only airport in the Asia-Pacific area to have two control towers. Beijing’s transport infrastructure is undoubtedly impressive; four main train stations serving 761 trains, 17 subway lines run for 275 miles beneath the city, 20,000 buses crisscross more than 700 routes and 50,000 bicycles are available for rental at over 1,000 sites across the city. In fact transport in China’s capital is the cheapest in the country; passengers can travel on the subway for CNY2 per person regardless of distance or transfers, or purchase a Transportation Smart Card which can be used on most forms of transport and offers discounts at certain stores. However, despite this extensive transport network that spider webs across the city, Beijing is still crippled by congestion during the morning and evening rush hours (8am and 6pm).
Hosting your corporate event…
China National Convention Centre
Built in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing’s China National Convention Centre is one of the capital’s largest corporate event venues and houses the Beijing National Stadium and Beijing National Aquatics Centre. Covering 258,00 sqm and boasting 91,000 seats it is China’s largest stadium and offers an impressive location for large-scale corporate events. The Aquatics Centre, known as the ‘Water Cube’, is an architecturally daring cube covered in bubbles and offers 77,000 sqm of space for cultural and business events. The complex’s three main facilities have over 100 versatile meeting spaces for any number of guests and a huge array of events, from conferences and presentations, to product reveals. Just 30 minutes from Beijing Capital International Airport and with a subway bus stop in its’ basement this venue has excellent transportation links and is close to modern amenities. It even has its own 420 room CNCC Grand Hotel connected via an indoor walkway.
Situated in the up and coming 798 Art District, Beijing’s Capital Museum showcases unique architecture and state of the art technology making it a favourite for creative presentations, corporate meetings and conferences. Its’ two temporary exhibition halls offer a total space of 5,000 sqm controlled by an intelligent temperature and humidity control air conditioning system and cutting-edge safety precaution system. Innovative multi-screen HD projection is also available as well as a 10-ton hydraulic lift for corporate event organisers looking to move large staging equipment or products.
This Bauhaus style building situated right in the heart of Beijing’s Art District is a fantastic venue perfect for smaller, intimate corporate meetings and can accommodate multimedia presentations, smaller concerts, receptions, product launches and trade fairs. The exhibition hall can host up to 1,000 people surrounded by lounge areas ideal for meetings of 30 to 60 people.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Newly opened in Beijing as of November 2014 is Starwood Hotel’s and Resorts W Beijing. Situated in the city’s diplomatic district – within walking distance of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square – with 349 luxury rooms it boasts all the state-of-the-art features associated with the W brand. It also offers a 1,200 sqm event space, which includes a Grand Ballroom, and showcases their unique sensory signature scents, mood music and lighting.
Aman at Summer Palace
This beautiful building embraces traditional Chinese architecture and materials, Imperial layouts and offers a stunning exclusive base from which to explore Beijing. Its’ pavilions are over a century old and were originally used by the guests of Empress Cixi. Just 15km from the city centre and close to cultural landmarks and UNESCO world heritage sites the Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Great Wall and Temple of Heaven, the Aman offers luxury accommodation for delegates.
The Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Hotel Beijing offers corporate clients all the modern amenities they could ever need, whilst remaining in the midst of ancient Chinese cultural attractions including the Xiushui Silk Market and Forbidden City. Equipped to deal with the most demanding communication and presentation requirements with advanced lighting, AV and staging capabilities, telecommunication options, electrical hook ups and wired or wireless internet. It boasts two grand ballrooms - the largest of which is almost 1,000 sqm - ten meeting and event rooms of varying sizes and with capacities of 20 to 760 people.
Exploring the city…
Beijing is overflowing with ancient cultural attractions that date back as far as the late 14th century, all of which offer a fantastic opportunity for delegates and colleagues to soak up some culture and engage in team building activities.
The Forbidden City
Built circa 1406, the Forbidden City was home to 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties and is the largest (218, 322 sqm) and most well preserved imperial residences in China. There are a range of different tour packages on offer for groups exploring the gorgeous compounds, courtyards, pathways and historical relics surrounded by the fortress-like walls. To Properly explore this site requires at least half a day and is a great day out for hard working delegates.
The Great Wall of China
Any trip to China requires an excursion to see the iconic Great Wall of China. There are a number of famous sections of the Great Wall in close proximity to Beijing. The Badaling is the most visited and renowned for its magnificent views and intact military facilities that convey a true essence of the Great Wall’s history. Fewer tourists visit Mutianyu, and Simatai and Gubeikou are two sections that are well maintained in their original states. For groups that are looking for more of an adventure the Huanghaucheng and Jiankou sections offer challenging steep peaks and broken bricks that will make for a great team-building hike.
The city’s largest square, and the fourth largest city square in the world, it is named after the Tiananmen gate that separates the square from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the centre of Chinese politics – both past and present – and holds a number of cultural monuments including the Monument to People’s Heroes, Great Hall of People, Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao, Tiananmen Tower and the National Museum of China.
A centre of Chinese culture, Beijing offers a huge number of high-end traditional performance groups that offer world-class entertainment for corporate events. For corporate events that require authentic Chinese entertainment a beautiful Chinese instrument ensemble or cultural performance group provide elegant background music and engaging demonstrations of ancient Chinese practises. Delegates, clients and audience members can also get involved and experience Chinese culture first hand by sharing in Kung Fu Tea, paper cutting and calligraphy. Traditional Chinese shadow dancers professionally trained in Kung Fu can offer creative and visually captivating performances that tell a story, incorporate a concept, company brand or logo. While a 3D mapping performance of the legendary Monkey King story combines a traditional Chinese story and Peking Opera with the country’s new technology advances.
With a population of 23 million, Shanghai is China’s largest city. Home to the World Financial Centre – the third tallest building in the world – this is a city offering a unique blend of cultures, values and architecture mixing together influences from Britain, America, France and Japan that stem from the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. An important destination for corporate events, it hosted the 52nd ICCA Congress in November 2014 which boasted the biggest attendance for an ICCA Congress outside of the EU and will go on to host ‘The Great Festival of Creativity’ in March 2015 at the Long Museum in West Bund.
Shanghai is an important transport hub in East China with frequent national and international flights, trains and buses to destinations across the country. The only city in China to boast two international airports with connections to over 200 cities across the world: the Hongqiao International Airport is just 8 miles from the city centre and Pudong International Airport 19 miles from the city centre. Shanghai’s internal infrastructure offers travellers across the city 1,100 bus routes, 14 subway lines (with several more planned to open in the near future), and four main railway stations with just over half the services running at high-speed (300km/h). Dramatically bisected by the Huangpu River, Shanghai is a thriving cosmopolitan city, a modern metropolis leading the way in fashion, design, and arts.
Hosting your corporate event…
Once a working abattoir, this old art deco building has left behind its gory past and been transformed into a creative hub boasting 32,500 sqm of event space featuring sculpted concrete ramps and bridges, flowering columns and spiral staircases reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s famous drawings. 1933 offers a dramatic space perfect for corporate event organisers looking for a wow factor venue with an unusual past. In the centre of the building stands a 1,535 sqm round theatre with a polished glass stage and expansive roof terraces that hosted Ferrari’s Formula 1 party.
Shanghai Automobile Exhibition Centre
The Shanghai Automobile Exhibition Centre offers sleek innovative architecture with glass a plenty, clean lines, curved ergonomic spaces and flowing arc ceilings and pillars it is the ultimate in futuristic event space. It boasts twin halls to the North and South side each with a floor space of 24,023 sqm complete with three cargo lifts perfect for car launches and large exhibitions. The Centre also offers advanced conference facilities with 9 conference rooms, 2 of which have a multifunctional space which can be adapted to a classic room or theatre style, with integrated modern amenities perfect for seminars, promotions, annual meetings and more.
Shanghai Grand Theatre
Situated in People’s Square in the heart of Shanghai this 70,000 sqm 40 metre tall glass and metal construction is one of the city’s most striking landmarks. Combining western and Chinese architectural styles, the Shanghai Grand Theatre houses 3 state-of-the-art theatres with cutting edge sound and lighting facilities and versatile mechanical stages and capacities of 300 to 1,800 people. Its incredible modern amenities and central location make it the perfect venue for a range of corporate events, from presentations, to theatrical after dinner shows or product launches.
Swatch Art Peace Hotel
Located in the old financial district on The Bund, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel offers four ultra contemporary suites and three rooms all of which are designed around specific themes – Peace, Prosperity, Good Fortune, Cheerful, Wondrous, and Joyful. With ergonomic design features and plenty of natural light, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel offers a clam and relaxing place for delegates to rest their heads. Delegates can also enjoy drinks on the hotel’s stunning roof terrace – built in 1908 it was the first roof terrace in Shanghai - with views of The Bung and Pudong. The hotel’s world-class restaurant and wine cellar serve delicious Asian and Western cuisines and of course their signature Caviar Royal with champagne!
Marriott Hotel Shanghai
Marriott’s Shanghai Hotel is situated in Shanghai’s city centre adjacent to People’s Square and park. With 720 rooms, an additional 6 meeting rooms ranging from 33 sqm to 90 sqm, a beautiful pillarless ballroom able to accommodate 650 people theatre style and a junior ballroom seating 230, the hotel also has a range of diverse meeting spaces that offer all the luxuries associated with the Marriott brand.
Hengshan Moller Villa
A stunning boutique hotel in downtown Shanghai, this unique hotel takes inspiration from the Northern European style of architecture. Close to the famous Bund, Nanjing Road, and Shanghai Exhibition Centre the hotel has hosted many famous international dignitaries and celebrities. All of its 43 rooms boast a wealth of modern amenities, luxurious facilities and access to the private landscaped garden. Within walking distance of some of Shanghai’s points of interest and with fantastic facilities this stylish boutique hotel offers impeccable accommodation for corporate clients seeking a unique experience.
Exploring the city…
Built some 400 years ago during the Ming Dynasty, Yuyuan Garden first opened to the public in 1961 after a five-year restoration project that returned it to its former glory before the devastation it faced during the Opium War. A quiet and elegant place for delegates to relax and enjoy an insight into ancient China, the garden boasts beautiful pavilions and cloisters, tranquil ponds, rockeries, old trees and stunning sceneries.
Oriental Pearl TV Tower
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with its unique architectural design, best showcases the amalgamation of ancient Chinese concepts and modern technology. Depicting ‘twin dragons playing with pearls’ the 468 metre high tower attracts thousands of visitors year-round. There are a diverse range of activities on offer in the various spheres including the Shanghai Municipal History Museum, futuristic space city, sightseeing hall, shops, and restaurants.
Jade Buddha Temple
For delegates wanting to catch a glimpse of ancient Chinese relics the Jade Buddha temple is a must see. Originally build to house two jade Buddha statues brought to Shanghai from Burma, the temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty and only rebuilt in 1928. The two precious jade Buddha statues are rare cultural relics carved from whole white jade. Delegates can also see many other ancient paintings and Buddhist scriptures within the walls of the temple.
A cosmopolitan metropolis of different cultures from around the world, Shanghai has a variety of entertainment groups offering both modern and traditional performances for corporate events. For wow factor performances that showcase elements of different cultures from around the world one of Shanghai’s most sought after dance troupes has performed for high-end corporate clients such as Louis Vuitton and Audi. Their word-class performances mix together Latin, Flamenco, Irish, and Hip Hop dance styles and are perfect for explosive product launches, special ceremonies and corporate after dinner shows. Shanghai is also home to a cutting edge vertical acrobatic performance team that offer aerial fashion shows, weddings, ballet and Kung Fu using the latest Japanese wire technology tens of metres in the air! If you’re looking for traditional cultural performances to entertain guests and delegates at special ceremonies, corporate functions, dinners and presentations an all-female traditional Chinese percussion show, plate spinning act and Chinese shadow play show offer authentic entertainment.