Charged Hong Kong Members' Stories #010 -- Mr. Richard Hatter

Mr. Richard Hatter
Image from Hotel ICON

Locky Law (LL): We are very pleased to have invited a true pioneer of EV adaptation in Hong Kong for interview today. He is Mr. Richard Hatter, General Manager of Hotel ICON Hong Kong (hereafter, ICON) and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Welcome Richard.

Richard Hatter (RH): Thank you, Locky.

LL: Richard, we know that you have recently done a customer story for Tesla, which is great because you have told a lot about yourself in that story, but today I want to go a little deeper than that. I know that you have really pushed hard in EV adaptation in the hotel industry. Your vision and approach leading ICON towards eco-friendliness, as we can see today, has proven you right. Could you please tell us when this has begun and your motivation?

RH: ICON is an exceptional hotel with a special purpose: not only do we embody all the creative energy and spirit of Hong Kong, we are also a learning environment and a vision of hospitality for the future, through our partnership with The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the esteemed School and Hotel of Tourism Management (SHTM). Sustainability and innovation underpins everything we do here and EV adoption is the perfect demonstration of this philosophy in action.

LL: As a student of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, I am trying to find opportunities that can bring Charged Hong Kong and the University together. I had a chance to have a lunch meeting with the PolyU president Prof. Timothy W. Tong yesterday, during which we talked about the many collaborations between Charged Hong Kong and ICON (such as Charged Hong Kong Rally 2015 and the latest Belilios Public School EV Summer Program), possible future collaborations with the University in promoting a green environment, ICON's and your contribution to the environment, the industry and the EV community. Because of your vision, ICON has earned many "Number 1s" or come "first" in Hong Kong, could you please tell us what those are?

RH: We have plenty of firsts to share: We were the first hotel in Hong Kong to introduce Paperless Check-in reception, saving four tons of paper every year. We introduced the Handy Phone, we offer completely free superfast Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a TIMELESS lounge for jetlagged passengers or those arriving early, a free Shuttle BOAT during conferences in HK, a free minibar and much more. Much of this is to extend the spirit of generosity and hospitality to our customers and also to reinforce that there is a place in the market for a very unique new luxury hotel that has one foot firmly placed in the future. We also recognize that by creating value-added aesthetics in terms of room or interior design, comfort and in-room technology, that guests would welcome the ‘live laboratory’ aspect of our operation and that it shouldn’t be hidden as it’s in our DNA.

Hotel ICON's very own EV fleet
Image from Hotel ICON

LL: Awesome! And needless to say, you are a strong believer of electric vehicles. So how many EVs does ICON have at the moment?

RH: We currently have two EV shuttle buses, one BMW i3 and 2 Tesla Model S.

LL: Brilliant! I'm particularly interested in the reasons you have decided that ICON should purchase a Tesla Model S after a BMW i3. Because the i3 is really a pretty good EV.

RH: The BMW i3 is used as a run around town shuttle for guests whereas the Model S will be used as a Limo to add value to the Club Floor customer stay. All markets need continual innovation otherwise things stand still and customers get bored! We are constantly looking for ways to improve our service, add value and experiment with innovative approaches to marketing the rooms side of the business and operation generally.

LL: And I know that owners of EV can also benefit when they visit ICON. If I'm not wrong, there is a very unique offer for EV owners dining at ICON, since 2014?

RH: Yes, we have implemented 2 Tesla 3 phase High Power Wall Connectors in the car park, while Tesla owners are entitled to 45 minutes free charging service at Hotel ICON and can also benefit from 15% off when dining at any of Hotel ICON’s restaurants by showing their car keys. It is a valet parking-plus-free charging-plus-discount offer.

LL: Which leads us to one of the most dying questions: in what ways have EVs actually benefited ICON in terms of business?

RH: For a mini bus that runs 150km daily, it saves 40L of fuel every day. While an electric bus uses $1 per kWh. The cost saved is approx. HK$415 per day.

Richard and Hotel ICON's EV fleet
Image from Hotel ICON

LL: But I know your effort in pushing for EV adaptation is much more than just the cost effective factor, am I right?

RH: Absolutely. Electric cars themselves produce zero emissions and the environmental costs are lower than conventional automobiles. Therefore, it helps contribute towards a healthy and stable environment for our next generation.

LL: Just tapping into your vision of the future a bit more, what do you see as the trend in the role of EV in the hotel industry in the future?

RH: We foresee that more and more hotels will follow our lead and use EV as limousines. Also the Government has been promoting the use of EVs through different measures such as waiving the first registration tax for EVs, expanding the EV charging infrastructure in Hong Kong and more.

LL: Last but not least, what advice would you offer to our future EV owners, including hotels that want to follow your path of EV adaptation?

RH: My advice would be to consider the options carefully and do in-depth research before purchasing. But fundamentally adopting EVs represents a hugely-important and worthwhile step, both for your business and brand.

LL: Thank you very much Richard for sharing your valuable experience and insights with all of us today, it has been my great pleasure to have talked to you.

RH: Thank you and see you at Hotel ICON!

Win-win situation

Lunch meeting with PolyU President

Charged Rally 2015 at Hotel ICON

Belilios Public School EV Summer Program (Official Video)