I Love Amsterdam; Mainland Chinese Love Hong Kong


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Alice Tse loves Amsterdam and Mainland Chinese love Hong Kong for different reasons; identify your battles – touch-point experiences – to win and to lose.

I amsterdam: A City of Differences
by Alice Tse, Global CEM Operations Director – Hong Kong

‘I amsterdam’ is the name of the official English-language website for the City of Amsterdam. I easily recall the name because of its creativity and multiple meanings. To me, the word can function as a noun meaning I am part of Amsterdam and it can function as a verb meaning I am experiencing Amsterdam. Although I have only visited Amsterdam three times, it is one of the few European cities for which I clearly remember an identity.

I remember Schiphol Airport. Not the shops or restaurants, although they are attractive and conveniently located, it is the Airport Library that catches my attention You begin to feel a sense of the culture here, as you do at the Airport Casino not far away. Reading or gambling, it’s your choice.

And that’s Amsterdam –diversity, contrasts, and tolerance, mingled beautifully all under one roof.

The second thing I remember is Delft Blue Pottery. Strictly speaking, delft blue pottery is not unique to Amsterdam, you can find it in many other countries. The Dutch designs make them unique for me. I always pick up one or two items when I travel to Amsterdam. I have a windmill, a tulip bowl, and a kissing couple in my collection displayed at home. Each reminds me of Amsterdam.

Stroopwafels – Dutch Cookies
The third thing that always reminds me of Amsterdam is Stroopwafels. I always get a few packs of Stroopwafels for my family and friends whenever I go to Amsterdam. Stroopwafels are thin, caramel-filled cookies, and certainly one of Holland’s specialties.

Are they really special? Maybe or maybe not. But at least my family and friends know they are from Amsterdam.

The list goes on –canal houses, the red light district, the coffee shops (selling cannabis), the museums, the cityscape, wooden shoes, Dutch cheese and the bicycles all around the city! They all have unique meanings to different people.

Simply put, Amsterdam illustrates energy and creativity with a very high degree of tolerance for differences. This differentiates Amsterdam from other European cities. Nowadays, products, services and even cities look homogeneous. It’s difficult to find character and uniqueness. Love it or hate it, Amsterdam is a city you will always remember. It’s hard to forget the passionate orange color of Amsterdam, too.

I Love Amsterdam
I love Amsterdam because I really like the Dutch. Not only are the Dutch tall physically, they are also deep intellectually. They are deep in the sense that they can combine their independent thinking and common sense to convert original ideas into effective and simple solutions. My two Dutch business partners are good personal friends, too, we connect and inspire each other.

Amsterdam is a personal matter for Alice too; she likes Amsterdam for non-business reasons. The unforgettable experiences for Alice are the airport, the pottery, and cookies. American friends of mine, visiting Amsterdam on vacation, fell in love with the atmosphere and free spirit. Although, at times, the degree of freedom fell into the unacceptable level for them as parents of a teenage son, with the red-light district and the Amsterdam coffeehouses. Amsterdam is loved for different reasons by different people – Alice, me, and my friend’s teenage son.

Mainland Chinese Love Hong Kong
While tourists love a city for different reasons, all cities face a hard fact: they have limited resources. These limited resources must be used to promote tourism and drive first-time visits, revisits, and referrals. Each city has to identify where—at which touch-point experiences along the total customer (tourist) experience—they ‘should’ focus investment and where they ‘shouldn’t’.

Figure 1 – Pleasure-peak and Pain-peak of Hong Kong

Hong Kong has set a good example, although unintentionally, for selecting investment ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’. Hong Kong has cultural, language, and geographic advantages for mainland Chinese tourists over rival cities. Hong Kong gets a right thing very right; ‘shopping experience’ generates the highest pleasure peak, unmatched by the other nine cities. At the same time, Hong Kong’s ‘cost of accommodations’ renders the most severe pain peak seen in the survey. What makes both the pleasure and the pain so right?

‘Shopping experience’ is ranked one and two, out of 36 attributes and touch-point experiences, in driving revisits and referrals respectively. ‘Cost of accommodations’ ranks 35th for both. The critical ‘shopping experience’ and the trivial ‘cost of accommodations’ are the pleasure peak and pain peak as shown in Figure 1. The result? Hong Kong was voted by an overwhelming majority of mainland Chinese tourists as the most favorable tourist city among all ten branded cities.

A Coward Fights No Battles; an Idiot Fights All
In Figure 2, we place the 36 attributes and touch-point experiences of tourists during their visiting experience on the Importance Quadrants for Referrals and Revisits. The half-shaded circles on the top-left quadrant are the attributes and touch-point experiences important to driving revisits only; the reversed half-shaded circles on the bottom-right are important to driving referrals only. The grey circles, including ‘cost of accommodations’, on the bottom-left are unimportant to driving both revisits and referrals while the stars, including ‘shopping experience’, on the top-right are important to both.

The four quadrants in Figure 2 tell us which battles need to be won and which can be lost. Win, lose or draw, this simple graph illustrates the best use of limited resources. Resources should be tightly directed at target objectives, in this case, revisits and referrals of tourists for a city. Ultimately, the effectiveness of a business or an executive is measured by the effectiveness of resource allocation. A business and its executives exist to win a “war”, not the “battles”; so, choose the right battles to win and lose. A coward fights no battles; an idiot fights all.

In the following section, “Paris 2011: The New Total Customer Experience (TCE)“, Ro King and her niece explore Paris through emerging channels and touch-points in the era of Internet—managing your brand equals managing the TCE.


1. The TCE (Total Customer Experience) Model is based on the United States patent-pending Branded Customer Experience Management Method invented by Sampson Lee, president of Global CEM (Global Customer Experience Management Organization), in 2007.

This article is retrieved from a document “Total Customer Experience (TCE) for Branded Cities”. The document is composed of five sections: personal travel stories in the sections contributed by three of our international partners, Marco De Veglia from Italy, Brownell O’Connor from Ireland, Ro King from the United States, and our operations director Alice Tse from Hong Kong.

Section 1: The Good-Pain and Branded-Pleasure of Paris
Section 2: New York as a Brand: Great Cities are Great Brands
Section 3: Dubai: Belly Dancing, the Arabian Desert, and the TCE Model
Section 4: I Love Amsterdam; Mainland Chinese Love Hong Kong
Section 5: Paris 2011: The New Total Customer Experience (TCE)


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