Running a successful family business can be a challenge. However, the more significant challenge is turning it into an eminent empire. Jonathan Zeman, CEO of Lan Kwai Fong Group joined the family business after graduating in 1998 and worked his way to lead the company that now strongly holds its stature in real estate, hospitality, and entertainment.
Based in Hong Kong the real estate company has established its uniqueness with its luxurious prime properties. Furthermore, Jonathan’s key role in the development of pristine projects such as California Tower, Andara Villas and Residences and Exquisite Aquella Resort in Thailand, and LKF Chengdu in Mainland China has been a gamechanger for Lan Kwai Fong (LKF) Group.
In the following interview, Jonathan talks about the company’s USPs and unique approach that has helped establish LKF Group in the global market as well as his views on how the global pandemic has impacted the real estate space.
Please brief our audience about Lan Kwai Fong Group, its USPs, and how the company is currently positioned as a leading player in the Real Estate market.
The Lan Kwai Fong Group is a group of companies focused on delivering premium and luxury products across our key areas namely real estate, hospitality, and entertainment.
Predominantly with businesses throughout Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Thailand, and other parts of Asia, the LKF Group also acts as business partners, consultants, and advisors to many ongoing projects across Asia.
The LKF Group offers a unique USP of a deep understanding of the entertainment and lifestyle businesses across Asia, as well as acting as a bridge between Asian and Western cultures.
Given our history and strong brand name for more than 40 years from our humble beginnings in Hong Kong in the 1980s, the LKF Brand has become a highly visible and prominent name throughout Asia and Greater China, well known for our delivery of excellence, premium products, and outstanding experiences.
What other services does your company offer, and how are these making an impact on the industry and your clients?
The LKF Group offers property asset management services, architectural planning and design, development management, hospitality, and marketing services. Always aiming for first-class ensures that customers always have unique, high quality, and memorable experiences.
Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on what impact have the adoption of modern technologies had on the Real Estate niche and what more could be expected in the future?
Technology has been a big enabler of new business thinking in the real estate sector. From improved sustainability to a deeper understanding of customers and tenants, technology is the key to competing in the real estate world. LKF Group early on was an adopter of a digital strategy, including using people counting systems to better understand customer behavior.
Collection and analysis of data from various channels and storing it for future use in a ‘data lake’ has been an important part of this. Improved sustainability has come through the use of technology to better manage energy use in our properties.
Taking into consideration the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face and how did you drive your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
Our initial challenges were not knowing what exactly we were facing and how much time it would last. This made planning very difficult. After an initial assessment, we were able to quickly put into action a cost-cutting plan and a return to core businesses.
Working closely with medical professionals we were also able to provide regular testing to our staff and epidemic preventative measures in our properties early on. It was the most challenging period of my career, but the pivots have made the business stronger and healthier.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the Real Estate industry?
Get your experience on the ground. Work in sales, work in leasing, work in tenants’ outlets to build your understanding from the ground up. Learn about architecture and design. Learn about art and culture. And get a good understanding of real estate finance so you can make it all into a sustainable business model.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2021?
2021 has been about maintaining stability and getting to the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. Preparing for the expected boom once vaccination rates reach targets is also one of the initiatives at this time as we expect customer spending to rebound quickly with an emphasis on health and wellness.
About the leader
With a keen understanding of customers’ needs, design, hospitality, and technology, as well as project management, Jonathan Zeman, CEO of Lan Kwai Fong Group, has greatly contributed towards taking the family business from a regional level to becoming a reputed global player.
Starting in the group as a young graduate of East Asian Studies in 1998, Jonathan worked his way through the ranks of the various business units, helping to systemize business processes along the way. A keen technologist, Jonathan has always been a big believer in using technology to provide a competitive edge to businesses.
Jonathan has worked on key projects throughout his career which are:
- California Tower – into a multistory entertainment building
- Planning and development of the award-winning Andara Villas and Residences in Phuket Thailand
- Exquisite Aquella Resort in Thailand
- LKF Chengdu in Mainland China
These projects have been the redevelopment of the group’s flagship property in Hong Kong.
Jonathan’s experience in Asia spans over 40+ years, having grown up and schooled within the region, in addition to being trilingual with Cantonese and Mandarin linguistic skills, he is uniquely bicultural which allows for a deep understanding of the regional market and his ability to seamlessly do business with his local and regional partners.
“I’m typically not pleasantly surprised when staying at villas or hotels (we have traveled all over the world), but the Villa 8 is the best place we have ever stayed. We arrived late and were greeted by the Villa staff which includes our chef and maid along with the property manager with lays and an ice-cold towel. As we entered the property it felt like we entered a warm rich 5-million-dollar home that has left nothing to the imagination. 6 bedrooms. Ocean views, infinity pool, award-winning chef. The food is off the charts, let them know what you want to eat for the next day and they head out to buy the freshest ingredients and produce your favorites. The property is quiet and secluded. You will love it if you try it. We will be definitely using this as our Phuket spot to stay.” – Andara Resorts, Thailand Phuket Tripadvisor
“We had an amazing time and did a bunch of bars hopping and meeting people. Street performances, nightlife, small hole the wall, and mysterious venues. There is a lot of history there, and very cool ‘locals only’ secret spots.” – Google Review, Lan Kwai Fong