1. Tell us about the story about Appysport – how did it start and how does it operate now?
It all started with our founder Marine moving to Hong Kong from France 6 years ago. She found it extremely difficult to book a public tennis court from LCSD. And it does not only happen to tennis in Hong Kong. She hopes to facilitate sports in Hong Kong by unlocking sports services for everyone. Combining her innovation background and passion about Hong Kong, she built a small team of passionate sports lovers who believe in tech and in sport. In a small team of 15 talents, you will find one of the Hong Kong’s top 50 tennis players, a few pro wakeboarders, a muay thai fighter and an equestrian champion.
We are not only talking about regular sports users - literally EVERYONE! We would like to ‘convert’ non-sport users by introducing new sports experience to them. With only one click, you can make the booking online and go on your first kayak introduction tour in Tai Po with our experienced and verified coach.
Since we launched tennis and water sports only in March 2019, 5% of sports users in Hong Kong now use appysport to explore and book sports facilities, which has a higher usage rate than other similar platforms.
2. Can you tell us about the most key partnerships or sponsorships Appysport has now?
Currently, we have partnered with 90% of water sports businesses at the 5 key beaches in Hong Kong.
Our key partner and investor, Decathlon is the world's largest sports goods retailer from France with 1500 stores across the world. It enables us to widen our network, gain brand exposure across different channels and have quicker access to every sports business.
3. What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for Appysport and other similar service providers in Hong Kong?
Most of Hong Kong people use public sports facilities to practice sports. According to Nielsen survey research in 2019, 52% of tennis players tend to practice at public courts. Yet, LCSD tennis courts accounts for only 12% of all courts in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the government is not very open to facilitate sports participation by partnering with private businesses.
Different sports users also have different needs. We have to take care of the needs of leisure sport user, regular sport users and non-sport users, who have very different needs. Regular user looks for more players to compete or play with while non-sport user look for affordable single class entry without commitment.
The opportunities come with the challenges above. Currently there is not any booking platform in Hong Kong covers all sports and activities, that cater to leisure sport user, regular sport users and non-sport users.
Hong Kongers are active and engaged with sports. 92% practice and play sports. Public sports facilities and lessons are always fully booked. Most LCSD facilities are booked based on first-come-first-served while ballot system is used for the sports lessons registration. Based on the research by Nielsen, 40% of all sports players in Hong Kong tend to be increase the time dedicated to practicing their current sport if there are more facilities available to use.
4. When developing a partnership, what are the things that you consider the most concerning for venue providers and for tour companies or coaches?
The facilities or service provider might think we come to this space to take away their businesses. As many private sport businesses have been doing offline business, they have doubts whether technology can bring them new customers. For example a 100-year old private sports club uses a notebook to manage their booking schedule. But later on they realized we actually enhance and enable them to expand their businesses. For example, we brought 50% more business for freelancing coaches in the first month we launched water sport.
5. Currently Appysport covers water sports and tennis. Do you plan to expand your tech services to other sports as well?
Our vision is to cover ALL sports. Currently we are expanding on fitness, yoga and muay thai. We are open to gym, boutique studio and coaches for any group classes. But it is just the beginning! The more we grow, the more sports we will make accessible to the many. By showing people our impact, we introduce sports that are not common in Hong Kong, such as kiteboarding.
6. You have taken on partnership and business development roles for other corporates in Hong Kong as well as Singapore before Appysport. Why did you make the switch?
I am an active sport user since I was young. At the young age of 7, I started to participate in competitive sports like track & field and taekwondo. In my life growing up, sports has taught me about teamwork, perseverance and determination. I truly believe sports participation can shape our lives positively.
This opportunity came to me when I was planning to start a sport platform for freelancing coaches. Knowing that I cannot do this alone, a group of sports enthusiasts who share the same vision and want to do this together further confirm that I should take the step to switch to the sports scene.
7. Can you share with us something special about Appysport that makes it better than individual booking sports venues, lessons and activities on their own?
Along with better price and quality guarantee, we customize offers that sports users truly need.
We also have excellent customer services, making sure our users enjoy a wonderful customer journey.