Show of force

Premier event for Shang­hai ex­pats re­turns to city

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Shasha

From Septem­ber 8 to 10, the 10th an­nual Ex­pat Show was held at the Shang­hai Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­ter. Started in 2007, the event has be­come Shang­hai’s big­gest gath­er­ing for ex­pat com­mu­ni­ties seek­ing ser­vices and in­for­ma­tion about the city.

Around 10,000 vis­i­tors and 150 ex­hibitors par­tic­i­pated in the show this year. Cov­er­ing dif­fer­ent sec­tors of daily life in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, health, in­sur­ance, tourism, life­style, food and bev­er­ages, and fi­nance and in­vest­ments, the event has be­come a fa­vorite among ex­pa­tri­ates.

Data re­leased on its of­fi­cial web­site shows that, in 2016, the event at­tracted over 11,000 vis­i­tors, among which 35 per­cent were Chi­nese and 31 per­cent Euro­peans. Newly ar­rived and ex­pe­ri­enced ex­pa­tri­ates aged from 20 to 35 (37 per­cent) and 35 to 50 (51 per­cent) con­sti­tuted most of the at­ten­dees.

The show has be­come es­sen­tial for lo­cal busi­nesses tar­get­ing for­eign­ers as well as for­eign-owned com­pa­nies hop­ing to do busi­ness with Shang­hai’s big-spend­ing Chi­nese. Thus, the Global Times re­cently in­ter­viewed sev­eral ex­hibitors who shared their sto­ries about work­ing in Shang­hai.

Fred­er­ick Le­clercq is the gen­eral man­ager and co-founder of Ink­tale Trans­la­tion & Con­sul­tancy, a joint-ven­ture started a year ago which pro­vides lan­guage ser­vices, busi­ness con­sul­tancy, ex­hi­bi­tion ser­vices and train­ing pro­grams. He said that about 75 per­cent of his cus­tomers are transna­tional com­pa­nies based in China.

“One of the rea­sons that we are here is ex­pand­ing in terms of ex­pats and West­ern com­pa­nies that we work with to de­velop our busi­ness,” said Le­clercq, adding that this was the very first ex­hi­bi­tion of his com­pany.

Food and lan­guage

Le­clercq mas­ters a key skill for do­ing busi­ness in China: He speaks and writes flu­ent Chi­nese. He stud­ied in Bei­jing for three years and then re­turned to Lon­don. Two years later, he came back – to Shang­hai – with his new com­pany, co-founded with Sab­rina Zhang, his Chi­nese part­ner.

Au­rora Tai is a Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can who has been work­ing for three years at eper­mar­, a Shang­haibased on­line gro­cery store which pro­vides both lo­cal and im­ported prod­ucts from all over the world. She said that their plat­form of­fers about 7,000 food and non-food prod­ucts from fruit and veg­eta­bles to small ap­pli­ances.

“Some ex­pats who are not fa­mil­iar with Shang­hai yet choose to come to the event to learn more, so we would like to reach more po­ten­tial cus­tomers here,” Au­rora told the Global Times.

Her com­pany has al­ready at­tended the ex­hi­bi­tion sev­eral times in the past. “We meet about hun­dreds of cus­tomers at this ex­hi­bi­tion ev­ery year, among which 20 per­cent are reg­u­lars check­ing out our new prod­ucts,” said Tai, adding that most of their cus­tomers are ex­pats, but lo­cals are in­creas­ing.

Ed­u­ca­tion ex­hibitors take a large share of space at the venue. It was easy to find schools and train­ing cen­ters of all va­ri­eties. Joe, a pro­gram man­ager at Hu­tong School, which teaches the Chi­nese lan­guage to for­eign­ers in Shang­hai, Hangzhou, cap­i­tal of East China’s Zhe­jiang Prov­ince and Chengdu, cap­i­tal of South­west China’s Sichuan Prov­ince, said that the com­pany was es­tab­lished 12 years ago by two for­eign­ers from France and Bel­gium.

This was their sec­ond time at the show. “It is use­ful for us. Of course we can com­mu­ni­cate on WeChat or Weibo,” said Joe, adding that face to face is bet­ter. “We met a lot of for­eign­ers who are en­thu­si­as­tic about study­ing Chi­nese these days.”

Pay­ment ser­vices

Tourism is also a prod­uct that Chi­nese and for­eign­ers crave. Emelie Chau­douard, founder of Travel-Stone which pro­vides tai­lor-made and group tours in Asia, flew to Shang­hai from Bei­jing to join the ex­hi­bi­tion with her col­leagues.

“More and more for­eign­ers are be­com­ing in­ter­ested in the Silk Road, so we now have tai­lored trips to north­west­ern cities like Xin­jiang Uyghur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion for them to ex­plore,” said Chau­douard.

While most com­pa­nies at­tend­ing the Ex­pat Show are sell­ing prod­ucts or ser­vices, some are there to of­fer a way to ac­tu­ally pay for such things. Yas­sine Re­gragui is a prod­uct op­er­a­tion lead at Ali­pay, one of China’s most pop­u­lar pay­ment apps.

“We are not here for ad­ver­tis­ing, but to help our users to fix prob­lems they meet when us­ing our app,” said Re­gragui, adding that he wel­comed sev­eral hun­dred cus­tomers dur­ing the three-day event, most of whom al­ready had Ali­pay ac­counts in­stalled on their phones.

Re­gragui said that Ali­pay now pro­vides sim­i­lar ser­vices over­seas. “Ali­pay has 520 mil­lion users glob­ally, and most ex­pats liv­ing in Shang­hai are now us­ing Ali­pay as their pay­ment method and mo­bile life­style en­abler,” he said.

Chen Shasha Pho­tos:

(From top) Em­ploy­ees per­form at the event. An em­ployee chats with vis­i­tors. Em­ploy­ees in­tro­duce prod­ucts to vis­i­tors at the event Sun­day.

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