Written by Staff Writer by Chikako Mogi, CNN
When Pending Holdings, a Hong Kong-based hospitality group, invited 250 of its employees to jet off to the US for a family reunion, it sounded too good to be true.
In reality, the “Family Vacation Package” included luxury airfare, airfare lounge access, accommodation at a four-star hotel, meetings with a group of seven companies where they can pitch their ideas to business leaders, round-trip transfers and a private tour of the historic FAO Schwarz department store.
According to Pending Holdings, the staff will fly to the US for two weeks each and stay with their families in the same region as their fellow employees.
“While this may be one of the largest number of employees working in one location being brought together this way, Hong Kong’s unique, dynamic economy is made for companies that like a ‘team first’ culture,” says Din Ping Leung, founder and chief executive of Pending Holdings.
Another major company that’s benefiting from the mega-expenses is China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, a state-owned oil and gas giant that has similarly made use of the “Team Up Vacation” program, where employees go to Europe, Asia and the Middle East for company-organized vacations.
The incentive to take a family vacation
Convenience, flexibility and socializing are among the main motivations behind this trend, as many professional employees tend to view vacations as a way to step away from work and rejuvenate.
It’s an attitude echoed by Cheung Wai Keung, an analyst at brokerage firm DBS Group Holdings.
“Taking a vacation is a good method to ease stress, especially when you are working long hours,” he says.
However, notes Wang Tsz-ki, managing partner of Sanz Group, a recruitment firm specializing in finance and related industries, “there’s a point when employees need to enjoy time with themselves.”
“Most companies do not usually provide that kind of opportunity, so employees feel compelled to take a business trip.”
Travelling together to Europe also gives employees a chance to spend time in different cultures, muses Yang Yan Mo, a travel blogger and former managing editor of travel magazine Hong Kong Travel
“When you go away with company, you are also in competition against your colleagues to share the experience and enhance the diversity,” he says.
Although vacations can be a form of catharsis for employees struggling with stressful work life, they also strengthen bonds within the company, as some traditional vacation days are not allotted to each employee.
With such circumstances in mind, many major companies now reward individual employees with unused vacations during their recent staff meetings.