By Gary Lam

Post on 08/06/2017


Joseph Lee

CEO at Cityline (Hong Kong) Limited

Leadership Philosophy

Relationships are essential and must be grounded in open communication, trust and mutual respect

Asia CEO Community

ACC: Please tell us about Cityline and the services you offer?

JL: Cityline is a leading IT solution provider, specializing in e-commerce transaction applications and payment solution. Cityline was established in 1993. The company started by providing ticket purchase with credit card function through Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) to cinemas in Hong Kong. Customers could purchase cinema tickets using their credit card and can collect tickets by swiping the credit card used for purchase at Cityline’s Ticketing Dispensing Machines located at cinemas. The system then had 8 phone lines at launch and grew to 48 phone lines within a year. The service was very innovative at the time and Cityline could well be the first company introducing this kind of service in Asia. Cityline’s ticketing web site,, was launched in 1997 and with real-time seating plan in 1998. Customers could purchase cinema and event tickets on the Internet using credit cards. In 2001, Cityline launched its operator-assisted call centre hotline. In the same year, Cityline became the exclusive call centre and Internet ticketing agent for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s (LCSD) URBTIX events. The URBTIX ticketing website and URBTIX Telephone Credit Card Booking hotline was also launched that year. 


In 2010, Cityline was awarded as the exclusive ticketing service provider for 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. In 2011, Cityline developed the B2B portal for a theme park in Hong Kong. The web portal allows travel agents to book park ticket online. In 2015, the B2B platform is enhanced to support Application Program Interface (API) integration with Online Travel Agent (OTA). This OTA API platform greatly increases the efficiency of the B2B business processes.


In 2014, Cityline developed the Centralized Venue Reservation System (CVRS) for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. This system allows the public to make reservation on tables of the restaurants located at the two racecourses via responsive website and self- service kiosks. The option to pay by WeChat Pay when making reservation at the Club’s WeChat official account on mobile phone was introduced in 2016.

In 2016, Cityline picked up another theme park customer in Hong Kong – the Ocean Park. Cityline launched the B2B Portal and OTA API platform for Ocean Park.


ACC: How do you keep the company with sustainable growth & stay competitive in the market?

JL: Innovation is the key to keep our organization with sustainable growth and stay competitive. We were the first batch of firms in Asia to launch voice response-based phone ticketing system in the early 90s. At a later stage, we were an early adopter of WAP. We were also quick to build our own mobile app that supports ticketing. 

For example, in the area of ticketing agency business, Cityline introduced e-ticket with admission control for the Wine Festival organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board in 2015. The e-ticket and admission control services were then deployed for the Discovery Bay Easter Egg Hunt on the Beach in 2016 and Longines Masters Hong Kong in 2017. Besides serving live event organizers, Cityline’s ticketing agency platform has been evolving with more functions and features to serve different type of customers according to their special needs. For example, Rosaryhill School has been using our online reservation for registration timeslot platform since 2013. Parents can reserve a timeslot to visit the school from the website, enter preliminary student information and pay the registration fee online. Another example is the online enrollment platform for the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA). Parents can enroll the summer football training program organized by the HKFA through the website. Enrollment information such as parents and student’s information, selection on training venue and T-shirt sizes can be entered online. Enrollment fee will be paid online and it will save the effort of the parents and HKFA’s staff in handling cheques and bank deposit.

ACC: What is the company's direction in coming 3 years?

JL: Cityline is going through its second wave of transformation. The first wave started from 2004 to 2016. In this period, Cityline has transformed from a movie-centric ticketing system provider to a multi-dimensional comprehensive ticketing service provider with customers spanning from cinema operators, live event organizers, venue operators, theme parks and training institutes. The second wave started in 2017. Cityline obtained the PCI DSS compliance certification in March 2017 and will launch its online payment gateway solution to help merchants to do business online. In 2017, Cityline has also acquired a new attraction site and will provide the customer a comprehensive ticketing and payment solution which includes B2C website, B2B portal and OTA API, ticketing counter POS, mobile handheld POS and admission turnstile. This set a milestone for Cityline in providing total ticketing solution and online payment in the attraction site industry.

ACC: Do you have plan to enter the overseas market?

JL: Yes, we are planning to expand our business to the overseas market and our first stop would be countries in Asia. Cityline endeavors to provide the highest performance and cost-effective e-commerce technical service to customers from different industries, and target to be the leading e-commerce company in Asia.

ACC: How does Cityline differentiate from other companies in the payment service provider industry?

JL: Cityline enters the payment service provider market with the ability of providing more than payment solution. We have over 20 years of system development and integration experience. Our payment service customers will be able to leverage our expertise when they are building their online business. We position ourselves as Technology Partner of our customers.

ACC: What is your philosophy in management?

JL: My philosophy in management is to put people first. Our employees are our greatest asset. Therefore we invest time in hiring the right people.  I believe good people attract good people.  We will make sure everyone in the company understand the mission, vision and objectives of the company and we are all working towards the same goal. Through delegation, colleagues will be given room to perform and be recognized for good performance. Job satisfaction and career path are important to everyone. As an employer, we believe that we have a moral obligation to create a workplace where people get out of bed and look forward to coming to work in the morning.

ACC: How would you describe your leadership style?

JL: The foundation of my leadership philosophy is built on trust, mutual respect and open communication. I believe open communication is the key for building trust and mutual respect. Fostering an open communication and exchange of relevant information, it allows our company to be more productive and operate more effectively. Also, it increases our employees productivity, morale and commitment, as they are able to communicate up and down the communication chain in the organization. 

ACC: Thank you Joseph! The interview was fun and hope to see you back on ASIA CEO COMMUNITY soon!

About Joseph

Mr. Joseph Lee

A highly successful and award-winning business leader, the President & CEO of Cityline (Hong Kong and Macau) Limited. He has been very successful in transforming the company from a local movie centric e-ticketing company to a multi-dimensional full ticketing service and payment technology company with customers from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Mr. Joseph Lee

A highly successful and award-winning business leader, the CEO of Cityline (Hong Kong) Limited. He has been very successful in transforming the company from a local movie centric e-ticketing company to a multi-national technology company with customers from all over the world.


The ASIA CEO COMMUNITY Interview Series is a fun Question and Answer style interview which we really enjoy doing with business leaders. The purpose of our interview is to get insight into two areas … one – business leaders ideas on managing their companies and two – insights into the methods and philosophy that make these leaders successful.


Brian Liu

(stock code:00379.HK)

William Du

CEO at WD Assets Ltd

Vivien Yu

Charter President at Shanghai Xuhui Chinese Overseas Friendship Association(Hong Kong)