As I write this report of the second week of our trip I am sitting on a High Speed train travelling at over 300 kilometres per hour. It seems that the past few days have been a similar journey.
Today is the first smoggy day that we have had in Beijing and the past 4 days have been absolutely clear. The Architecture here is a feast for the eyes. Buildings with shapes that I never thought possible are dotting the crowded city. The large buildings are going up, minimizing the smaller older buildings and the amount of construction dwarfs what we are experiencing in Canada and the US.
We left Hong Kong a week ago on the last day of the Sotheby’s Auction with many great memories and a few sad moments knowing that we would miss some of our new contacts. We hope to retrace some of the steps next year to bolster some great relationships made.
On our first day in Taiwan we did our presentation early in the morning at the Taiwan Sotheby’s International Realty, then went over to their Showroom and had a Taiwanese lunch with their leadership. They have a strong group of agents who listened attentively to everything I said in our introduction although I later realized they hardly understood what I had said. Thankfully Tracy was there to keep us from being too embarrassed and presenting and answering all questions.
The next day was a National Holiday in Taiwan so of course, we went to the Palace Museum and saw one of the largest collections in the World of Antique Chinese Art that followed the Nationalists across the water to Taiwan stripping Mainland China of a lot of it’s pottery and paintings. It is a massive collection.
The next day we were of to Beijing where we have been for the last 4 days. We all decided that we would never again complain about Toronto traffic. It is however a very exciting city, when you are not stalled on one of the ring roads, they are now on to their seventh and driving, walking, motorcycling, or biking is a challenge with no rules whatsoever except…watch out! For a country and a people who cherish being on time, we seemed to be late for everything even when we made copious plans to avoid doing so.
The first night we arrived was the first anniversary of the Beijing Sotheby’s International Realty and we were feted with lots of toasts and probably 20 different dishes popular in the Beijing office. After a few wonderful courses I thought it best not to ask what the main ingredient was suffice as to say that there is very little left of whatever animal body part we had NOT eaten.
They are wonderfully friendly group who are young to the business but also young in terms of their market, being that there is no MLS and very little cooperation between companies. It all seems based on sphere of influence and being the intermediary between a Buyer and a Seller. No real marketing takes place, so they were very interested in what we had to say and how our relationships with them could bear successful results in dealing with a more organized system based on sharing information and data.
In the past three days we met with Private Banking officers who were financing Mainland Chinese in buying offshore, a group of private investors who were part of a Wealth Club, and lots of young talented and eager agents involved in the Sotheby’s International Realty brand and a large website serving the 1.3 billion people living in the country.
Hotel laundry being what it is…very expensive and me being hot and sweaty I need to give a big shout out to a company I found online called Laundry Town www.Laundrytown.com in Beijing….They picked up and delivered and the results were excellent. A rare find when you are wearing suits and ties everyday on a whirlwind enterprise.
One of the goals of our trip was to be able to get visibility in China with no Google, Facebook, and any of the social media…Luckily after a day or two we were directed to ExpressVPN www.expressvpn.com which allowed me access to our Google Mail. When searching websites outside of Mainland China, the Government crawlers make the Internet painfully slow. Hence, the goal of finding ways to market listings and our services in a country with the Great Firewall of China.
We met and discussed options with three of the leading websites serving the growing middle class which is now larger than the population of the United States and Canada and are looking forward to increasing our visibility with two or three of them. We are already hosting our listings on JUWAI and receiving leads on a regular basis and those are keeping our Mandarin speaking Tracy very busy…Having someone on our team who speaks the language is a huge bonus.
Now off to Shanghai for a short stay and meeting with some bankers and clients wanting more information. At present there is not a Shanghai Sotheby’s International Realty but we here that it is on the way.
Having a trip like this is a wonderful experience and I am sure a few days after we are home and rested we will all enjoy a time to recap and discuss what has transpired.