3 Jan 2012
Serial new year celebrations risk disrupting Asian superyacht business
Now that the West has got over the festive celebrations, it’s about to start all over again here in Asia. The Chinese New Year starts on 23 January and ends on February 9, 2013. The date wanders around every year - being based on the lunisolar calendar - but is usually in February.
Massive end of year shutdowns are certainly one of the most non-productive business habits of our planet’s cultures and particularly hard for smaller businesses. This impending double whammy makes the beginning of this New Year particularly trying and superyacht professionals that are doing business in Asia should take note of this early event. Just as now in the West, Christmas seems to start sometime around September, the minds of Chinese people turn to the New Year celebrations well in advance of the day, with productivity and responsiveness hampered before the event, even before businesses close for the obligatory two week period on the 23rd. The effect is not only felt in China but in neighbouring Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, the latter two of which also had their own occidental shutdowns for Christmas and New Year.
The Chinese New Year shut down is very important to its people; this may be the only time in the year when these workers go home to see their families. This can make travel near impossible and the logistics of moving a massive percentage of the Chinese workforce – many of whom work thousands of miles from home - around the country is a major headache for the Chinese government; any failure here is ill-tolerated by the Chinese travelling public. Successful last-minute booking of business travel is therefore, fantasy.
The same migration occurs to a lesser extent around the Gregorian New Year in Thailand too; despite the fact that traditional Thai New Year takes place in April and is called Songkran. Few businesses shut down for Christmas or New Year or Songkran but going out on the street during the latter is hazardous since the national habit is to chuck vast amounts of water at each other for 1 to 5 days.
To complicate things still further, since 1940 the New Year BE (Buddhist Era) also starts on 1 January. Thus Thais get two New Year celebrations for the price of one year.
The past year has certainly not been the best for the industry so any form of omens will, most likely, be welcomed rather than scorned as superstition. And, with that in mind, 2012 for Thais is 2555 BE and, by happy coincidence, the Thai equivalent of using “LOL” or “ laughter” in text, chat or SMS is 555! Furthermore, the next Chinese year is a Water Dragon year. Its characteristics neatly match both the industry we work in and the ambitions of Western companies to penetrate the Asian market.
The characteristics of the Dragon are immense strength and power, and even more appropriately, the Dragon governs both East and South-West, along with wealth accumulation and creativity. Although perhaps less relevant it also governs the hours 0700 and 0900 every day benefiting early rising Dragon-ish entrepreneurs. Add the water aspect and it would certainly appear that 2012/2555 should be a good year for the superyacht industry especially in the east and south-east Asia.
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