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Lunch with the president of Taipei 101

On 9 June the ECCT's Luxury Goods committee hosted a lunch with special guest speaker Dr Joseph Chou, President of the Taipei Financial Center Corporation (Taipei 101), a consortium backed by the government and business groups that is responsible for the planning, implementation, operation and management of Taipei 101. In his presentation, Chou spoke about shopping trends, plans and prospects for Taipei 101. Among other topics, he gave an analysis of the impact the opening up to Chinese tourists and, more recently to Free Independent Travellers (FITs) from China, has had to date and how an increase in FITs is expected to affect luxury shopping in Taipei in future.

Taipei 101 has the unique advantage of being a signature landmark and a beacon of Taiwan's progress. Besides being the home of the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation and the Taiwan headquarters of numerous prestigious local and international firms, Taipei 101's shopping mall, which features numerous high-end luxury goods brands, has become Taiwan's premier shopping destination and a magnet for both international and local tourists.

Chou began by showing statistics on Taipei 101's visitor trends in recent years. The number of visitors to the Taipei 101 Observatory has risen to 2.8 million annually. Growth in recent years has been driven largely by visitors from mainland China following Taiwan's opening to Chinese visitors While growth came initially from tour groups, growth has been even more rapid since 2011 when the government first opened up to FITs from China.

In terms of shopping, Taipei 101 is continuously working to cultivate and promote the image of Taipei 101's shopping mall as a "fashion landmark in Asia" in order to attract more high-spending shoppers, both from within Taiwan as well as tourists.

While Taipei 101 is already well-known as a landmark, Chou said that some high-spending tourists stay away from Taipei 101 because they believe that queues to visit the observatory are too long and it is too crowded. While Chou said that this perception is not really accurate, the corporation is taking action to address this by introducing some premium services such as a "Priority Fast Pass" and VIP tour arrangements, which include leisurely shopping in the mall. By shortening waiting times even further, the intention of these services is to give VIP customers more time to browse and shop in the mall's stores. The Prestige Club was also created to provide an exclusive retreat for "elite" customers.

Taipei 101 is also working to improve its customer services and marketing through smart shopping and parking services. With an e-membership card (which is free), customers can enter and pay for parking and earn reward points when shopping in the mall. Meanwhile free wifi gives customers access to shopping, leisure and tourism information. Besides these services, the corporation is also working with the National Palace Museum and the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation on joint promotional and usage packages.

The fourth floor of the mall is the venue for frequent world class events and exhibitions such as jewelry and watch exhibitions. The 89th floor observatory has recently been renovated and facilities have been improved. With 360-degree floor-to-ceiling windows, the observatory remains the best place to see Taipei and the surrounding area.

As the name of the tower suggests, Taipei 101 does indeed have a 101st floor and it is possible to arrange exclusive events with catering on this floor, although Chou hinted that this is not an inexpensive service.

Taipei 101 is continuously working to expand its outreach and promotional activities abroad. This was the motivation for joining the World Federation of Great Towers, which arranges cross-promotional activities with other members. For example, Taipei 101 is cooperating with the Tokyo Skytree and Tobu World Square.

The corporation is also working with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to promote Taipei 101 in the bureau's overseas roadshows. Branded marketing events are ongoing. Chou said that plans are already in the works for next year's New Year fireworks display and the "International Run-up race". Chou concluded that Taipei 101 is open to shopping festivals and co-branded promotions with retailers and welcomed any ideas for improvements to Taipei 101 and cooperation with ECCT members.