If you ever travel for business, you are sure to know InsiderTV. Their successful city video guides are in hundreds of hotels and on airlines across the region.
The company is one of many moving to theDesk at One Hysan Avenue this November. We met with Director of Sales, Joyce Ho, to learn more about their business and to welcome them to our brand new workspace.
It’s hard to imagine a more engaging person than Joyce Ho, Insider TV’s Director of Sales for Greater China. We meet at the Leighton Centre, a stone’s throw from her new private office at One Hysan Avenue.
“For us, it’s perfect. I’ve chosen my office already. I’ll have a lovely space with three windows. I can’t wait to move in.”
Creating a new market
Hong Kong-born and bred, she’s been instrumental in growing Insider TV’s business in our region.”Our company is dedicated to people who love travel,” Joyce tells me. “Our viewers are adventurous. They look for the most exciting and unique experiences in cities across Asia.”
The word ‘insider’ is meaningful. The company invites contributors to share tips and recommendations on the best places to stay, dine and enjoy the local attractions.
“We created this market. There wasn’t anything like it before.”
Due to its unique production and distribution model, the company rapidly dominated the market. “Within half a year after I joined in 2010, we were in 70 hotels in Hong Kong. Now we’re in 140. Once we had started, we were everywhere. There wasn’t enough time for others to copy us.”
From hotels, Insider TV has extended it’s offer to a wide range of platforms. “Now, you can find us on airline in-flight entertainment systems, via our apps and website, travel agents and many other traveller touchpoints,” she says.
Making it in Macau
After launching in Hong Kong, Joyce turned her attention to Macau. “I have the surname Ho, and everyone thought I was related to the casino boss, Stanley. When I emailed hotels, people thought someone from the Ho family wanted to meet them. It was hilarious.”
The mix up proved useful. Expanding into Macau proved smoother than she expected. “It only took a few months to get established,” she recalls.
Joyce stayed with the company for three years. She then took a sales and marketing position at a large pharmaceutical company.
“It was completely different. My work became B2B. When I returned to Insider TV, it felt like I could catch up with what was happening in the world again.”
“It was an excellent experience to work in a different industry, but I was happy to get back,” she adds
Growing the business
The company started small, with just five city guides. “At that time it was Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Beijing, and Singapore had started.“
Around four years ago, an investor became interested in the concept. “They wanted to fund us to develop more cities,” says Joyce. It was that funding that has led to the company’s rapid expansion from five to 16 cities.
“We don’t have an office in every city. We’re in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and a few Chinese cities. Each city has one or two salespeople, and they manage the whole area.”
In Hong Kong, there is currently a small team of four. “We’re restructuring at the moment,” Joyce says. “We used to have a larger team, of around 20 people.”
The company prides itself on producing fresh content every day. But given a large number of shows, how do they manage schedules and maintain quality?
“In Hong Kong and Singapore, we have our own video crew. We fly them all over the place,” says Joyce.
“We send the footage to our video production team in Manila. We have a team of around 20 people there. Every day they do edit the shows, create the graphics, put in music and upload the final programme to our website.”
The advantage of having a central post-production unit is clear. “Costs and time management are a lot better than each city having its own crew and doing their own editing.”
But there are other benefits. “It means we can maintain a consistent brand identity,” Joyce explains. “Everything is more unified; the fonts, the graphics, the music.”
The content cycle
As a media person myself, I know that creating so much new content can be a real challenge. How does Insider TV manage this?
To meet audience expectations, Joyce and her team need to generate ideas for brand partners and viewers every day.
Each 30-minute show is refreshed on a monthly basis. “We replace at least 70% of the content,” Joyce tells me. “Our partners can opt for different contract lengths,” she explains. “It’s like they are buying airtime.”
The company has strict production schedules to make sure there is always something new and exciting. “We have a cut off date on the 15th of the month. We need to complete everything before that day to catch the next month’s show.”
As well as new production, Joyce needs to keep up with existing brand partners.
“Companies change all the time. For example, in a month a restaurant may close, and others may open. It’s a challenge to keep up, but it’s exciting.”
“When a partner wants to change their video, they need to do that before the cut off date. We have two weeks to edit everything, put it on air and into hotels and other channels by the first of each month.”
Joyce has worked hard and it’s evident how much she loves the work. “It’s such a unique channel that, in a sense, it advertises itself. People see us in-flight or in their hotel and contact me. Many of my customers are referrals.”
“If we don’t keep up to date, tomorrow will be completely different. It’s a fast-moving scene.”
“There is so much I love about this job. I get to meet many people. I love having a good conversation with them.”
Joyce also feels motivated by the untapped market potential. “In Hong Kong, the company has generated good revenue since day one by targeting visitors. But there is so much more we can offer them.”
“Everyone wants people to enjoy good food and entertainment, to come and shop at our stores and feel welcome in the city.”
Part of her success is a natural talent for reaching out to partners. “I’m good at sales, for some reason. I enjoy it.”
“A customer recently told me that I’m a very persistent young lady. Some people find it annoying. But if I need to go in and get a new account, I have to do cold calling. Not many people are willing to do that.”
“You can see when a person has given the same pitch many times on the same day. Even the jokes are the same! They don’t spend time to build a relationship with the customer.”
For Joyce, the work is far more than a quick sale. It’s about building a genuine relationship with partners. “It’s a small world,” she says. “People I meet may go to another company and recommend us. We generate more contacts through genuine trust and commitment.”
“Many of my contacts trust me as a person who can help them; to fix things and solve their problem. No matter if it’s providing video, connecting partners with other people, or coming up with a great event. I try to create a unique package to help my customers.”
The road ahead
The company continues to grow and reach new audiences. They are working hard to extend their reach across the Middle East.
“We’re exploring that. The founder, Daniel Barry, has been meeting with tourist organisations to roll out in the UAE,” she says.
So for Joyce, how does she see the future? “I’m focussing on building upon our foundation in Hong Kong; increasing revenue and building partnerships.”
“But in the future, I’ll pass the Hong Kong business to a new manager, The plan is for me to be based in Singapore, looking after sales across the whole region. Not only Greater China, but also Malaysia and Singapore.”
But for now, Joyce is excited to be moving to theDesk in Causeway Bay. “theDesk offered great convenience and an affordable plan. For us, it’s perfect. I’ve chosen my office already. I’ll have a lovely space with three windows. I can’t wait to move in during November.”
And we’re as excited as Joyce. We’re counting the days until we welcome Insider TV and many other companies to our new community in the coming weeks.
More from Insider TV
Check out more Insider TV guides on their website and YouTube channel.