Published: 18 Mar 2024

Category: Case Studies

A Traditional Office Turns to Flex Model to Cope With Changing Business Landscape


Compass Office pilots its latest series of case studies that spotlight the expertise of our clients. The first debut from the series speaks to Mr. Kengi Wan, Executive Vice President Hong Kong & China at Big Bus Tours. Professionally trained as a Structural Engineer, Kengi shares with Compass how Big Bus Tours has evolved in a changing risks environment and how the flexible office has partially alleviated the effects brought on by the pandemic. More precisely, the role Compass Offices plays in its path to recovery.


Could you describe your professional expertise?

I am the Executive Vice President, Hong Kong & China at Big Bus Tours. I am responsible for overseeing and managing all aspects of the business in Hong Kong and China, including the day-to-day domestic operations. Before the pandemic, I have also taken on the responsibility to expand Big Bus Tours across the region through green field startups, mergers, acquisitions, and brand licensing projects. One successful highlight would be our acquisition in Singapore back in 2018.


Could you describe the significance of your brand please?

Big Bus Tours is the largest operator of open-top sightseeing bus tours in the world. Inspiring the spirit of adventure in over 25 cities, across four continents. We expanded to Hong Kong in 2008 and aim to continue our expansion. Beginning with a fleet of three buses, we operate hundreds of buses today; and nearly six million tourists choose us as their sightseeing partner every year.

In retrospect, the Big Bus Company Ltd. (established in London) and Les Cars Rouges (established in Paris) decided to bring their 20+ years of experience together to create a modern and relevant bus tour brand with a difference. Today, Big Bus Tours is owned by private equity
partnership Exponent LLC after a welcomed sale in 2015.


What is one contributing factor to becoming a client at Compass Offices?

During the peak of the pandemic, we were not able to generate revenue as quickly in comparison to the past. We attempted to reduce our cash burn-rate to make our business more sustainable. Naturally, a flex office with no CapEx or refurbishment costs appears to be an ideal solution because we believe that our reduced revenue should not go towards the landlord but the staff that keep our company in business. We considered a few options and boiled down to a few factors that were crucial to our decision process.

Namely, price, location, ambience and how responsive the CS teams were. In terms of price, it is quite transparent and competitive relatively speaking. The relaxing environment and the responsive CS teams were both appealing and value-adding attributes to us. We ultimately chose Compass Offices’ Silvercord business centre in TST for Big Bus Tour’s Hong Kong headquarter. I like that each floor at this centre offers a slightly different ambience, the communal area on the 5th floor is quite different than the more corporate fit-out on the 17th Floor.


As a result, how does that impact your brand materially?

Coming out from the pandemic, we adhere to a policy of no capital investment in any non-revenue generating asset, the permanent office would be one in the traditional sense. Compass Offices has largely enabled us to allocate our resources towards revenue generating investment. For instance, our fleet of 17 buses is getting old, albeit these buses meet the Euro 5 emission standards. We are looking at a complete replacement of the whole fleet as the emissions from diesel buses could be bad for the local community. The socially responsible act is to replace the whole fleet to alternate energy like electric or even hydrogen buses.

The flexibility to expand very quickly from a smaller space to two connecting units or even a custom space is another appealing attribute that gives us economy of scale and a sense of security. In terms of our brand. I guess this refers to how the public and internal team perceive themselves, I would say that the common area at Compass really helped improve the well-being of the staff because they can conveniencely step out to take a coffee break, unlike a traditional office where you would need to walk outside to get some personal space.


By extension, would Compass Offices' model fit as your brand continues to evolve and expand?

Our initial plan was to restart at a new permanent office coming out from the pandemic. On the contrary, our direct line manager visited and upon consulting the teams, we thought Compass Office’s flexible workspace largely aligned with our forthcoming business plans. Ultimately, we decided to stay and reallocate all our resources towards boosting our business. Since then, we have embarked on a good 7-digit investment in the upgrade of our latest commentary system to elevate the customer journey. Presently, our commentary is multilingual but monochromatic in tone and content. By the year end, we will be rolling out a new commentary refreshment system. We also aim to target a few more first-tier cities around the world through acquisitions.

Name a feature of Compass Offices that you enjoy most.

I really enjoy the communal area at Compass Offices. This is where I enjoy my morning coffee and come up with business strategies and ideas to cope with a changing business landscape.