HK Audio’s new division head on targeting installation markets

HK Audio is more commonly known for touring and portable sound, but with its recently launched Business Solutions division it’s actively targeting the installation market. Anna Mitchell learns more from division head Francois Lay.

“The demand for high quality installation speakers is rising,” argues Francois Lay, head of HK Audio Business Solutions. “This huge market will become increasingly sophisticated in terms of technical requests and overall processes.”

It’s the reason why HK Audio, a company with a strong heritage in concert, touring and large venue audio systems has stepped up activities targeting the installation market by launching the dedicated Business Solutions division. 

“We have perceived that consultants and contractors want more contact directly with the brand in order to address technical queries. Whilst around 70% of the technical information required can be obtained indirectly (such as via spec sheets or information published online), the remaining 30% is sometimes the key because it sets up a relationship with the brand.”

The Business Solutions division is designed to meet that need with a dedicated team.
Whilst HK Audio is well established in a range of vertical markets for installation throughout Asia, hospitality will be the starting point for the Business Solutions division with marketing, sales and R&D efforts focused on the high-end hotels market.

“The next step of the HK Audio Business Solutions is to give an added value to the ‘made in Germany’ sales message with tailor made products. That covers acoustics and aesthetics,” explains Lay. 

“It is hard to compete on price with products made in counties where manufacturing is cheaper but we’ve always found ways to be competitive and one of those is to maximise the flexibility we can offer from manufacturing in Germany.
“You cannot easily customise remotely manufactured products. There is a minimum order quantity, there is lead time, and there can be communication issues. Our customers can place an order of one unit only and we have a lead time of three weeks.”

With the market offering multiple options to handle acoustics, customisation is where HK Audio has perceived it can stand out and has pinpointed a demand. 

Lay says: “You can put sound wherever you want. It can be indoor or outdoor and in wet or humid environments. But when it goes into stylish environments there is always a weakness, which is most speakers are black or (sometimes) white boxes. We can offer something different in the level of customisation including choosing a desired colour.”

Approaching the hospitality market has also meant that the target audience is wider than the distribution channel. 

“You need to get to the architect and designer level,” notes Lay. “We’ve also started to forge relationships with suppliers of high end hotel furniture. We can explain to designers that there is no need to hide the loudspeaker products or remove them from the design because we can make them fit with the design.

“It’s my quest to create loudspeaker products that people want to see.”

Good acoustic properties are also needed to complement aesthetics and Lay points out that Business Solutions can draw on technology developments for products that perform well for HK Audio in other market segments and customise them for installation. 

The final piece of the HK Audio push into hospitality is user experience. 

“All the luxury hotel market wants is for guests to return to their chain and not look elsewhere,” explains Lay. “From check-in to check-out they want to deliver the best user experience. To create the right atmosphere, the sound quality must be good.”

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