Meet The Team

Guanxi combines the resources of two specialist PR and marketing companies in China and the United Kingdom to provide you with on the ground Chinese market expertise, serviced out of our offices in south east England. We can pull resource from a team with a wide range of skills and experience, but the following make up our senior team in the UK and China:

Thumbnail image of Helena Beard, Guanxi Chinese PR and Marketing Director

Helena Beard

Managing Director

Helena is a senior marketer and specialist in the outbound China travel market. She has over 20 years’ experience of working in travel PR and Marketing and founded Guanxi in 2013. Previously, Helena held senior management roles within a number of large UK tour operators, including Virgin Holidays and First Choice. She was also Managing Director of UK travel representation agency, KBC PR & Marketing for five years, during which she oversaw the sales and marketing for a number of global destinations and hotels including Florida Keys & Key West, the Azores Islands, Capital Region USA, Discover New England and Loews Hotels.

Helena has an MSC in Tourism Management and Marketing, a Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a BA Honours degree from Kings College, London. She is also a guest blogger for travel website, TravelMole, winner of the 2016 Entrepreneurial Spark #Acceler8 Award, and was a finalist in the Disrupter Award at the 2019 Everywoman in Travel award which recognises inspirational female British businesswomen.

Vivienne Song

Director, China Office

Vivienne Song is an experienced Sales and PR professional who heads up our office in Beijing. Vivienne has many years’ experience working in the travel and tourism industries with clients including Choose Chicago, English Heritage, City Cruises, Royal Museums Greenwich and San Francisco Travel. She has also worked for one of China’s largest online travel agencies, Mafengwo.

Vivienne is an excellent communicator and is bilingual in Mandarin and English. Her network of Chinese tour operators, OTAs and Chinese media is unrivalled in the industry.

Guanxi Beijing Director, Vivienne Song

Simon O'Flynn

Non-Executive Director

Simon is a highly accomplished senior marketing and commercial leader with a background built in fast-moving digital, offline and retail markets in the UK and internationally with household brands and tech companies.

With over 20 years’ experience in domestic and international hospitality, tourism and travel, he is an exceptional commercially led digital marketeer at heart. He has advised and consulted across numerous businesses and international markets in sectors spanning retail, travel, hospitality, tech, financial services, FMCG and marketing agencies.

Simon started his career at TUI, and after a short stint advising FMCG and retail clients agency side, he returned to the leisure and hospitality industry and forged a career in a high growth start-up, taking it to IPO stage, followed by nearly 10 years at Virgin. There he also led Virgin’s North American business, initially turning it around and then setting up M&A and joint venture opportunities. He brings an added external international business growth perspective to the team.

Helen Bailey

Research Partner

Helen Bailey heads up our consumer research division. Whether you need insights into the behaviours or attitudes of your Chinese customers, or you want to find out more about the preferences of Chinese students studying in the UK, Helen and her team are here to help.

Helen understands people and relishes the opportunity to find out why people do what they do and how they perceive businesses. Helen uses a variety of market research and coaching techniques to uncover the real stories and what lurks beneath the ‘data.’ All of her work results in the reward of clarity in what you should be doing and what people want from you which always results in an increase in sales. More recently Helen has been working with our team to discover what Chinese Students want from a weekend away and how tourist boards can communicate what this unique group of people would like to hear that will inspire a visit. This has resulted in transforming the thinking behind how to attract this lucrative group of regular travellers to a major European destination.

Helen has over 26 years business experience as an owner of three SMEs, owner and operator of a restaurant chain and researcher to companies including Coca Cola, JD Wetherspoon, Legal & General, P&O Ferries and Optivo and local Sussex based companies. She is a non-executive board member of MDHUB a leadership organisation to help companies grow and mentors Sussex University Business Graduates.

Helena Bailey, Research Partner, Guanxi agency

Julie Withers

Account Manager

Julie has extensive marketing, communications and account management experience gained at organisations ranging from the NSPCC to Country Living Magazine. Her skills include strategy, new business development, content marketing and event management. She is an avid traveller and has visited 34 countries including, of course, China.

Julie looks after our clients, ensuring that service levels are kept to her exacting standards. She is also a great person to talk to if you are new to China and is always happy to chat about how to find effective marketing solutions, whatever your challenges and budget.

Louie Gao

Social Media Manager

Louie graduated from Beijing International Studies University with a BA in Tourism
Management.

She has three years’ experience in tourism product development, having worked for CYTS and Uniqueway where she was in charge of travel route planning, operating, sales training and supplier relationship maintenance.

She also has experience in digital marketing and advertising and worked as an Account Executive, setting up websites for international clients.

Louie is an approachable and enthusiastic member of the team, managing the Chinese social media accounts for clients such as Gatwick Airport, VisitBrighton and London North Eastern Railway. Louie’s work includes writing original content and running promotions and sponsorship deals to deliver strong presence for the brands across platforms such as Weibo, WeChat, Mafengwo and Qunar.

Guanxi Travel Trade Manager, Maria Wang

Maria Wang

Travel Trade Manager

Maria Wang is Guanxi’s Travel Trade Manager. Starting her career at CTS as a European Visa Commissioner, Maria now has more than nine years experience working in the travel trade and Chinese Tourism Market. During this time, Maria has developed great relationships with overseas tourism bureaus, Chinese travel agencies and other industry partners. She has a deep understanding of the Chinese tourism market as well as a wide network of contacts.

Maria has a strong background in rail, and has worked in ticketing, marketing and operational roles. She has also worked in social media management, responsible for social media content distribution and interaction with followers on WeChat and Weibo.

Maria has a degree in English from Beijing Language and Culture University. She is a friendly, outgoing member of the team and works with Vivienne on the travel trade side of Guanxi, visiting agents to promote our clients’ products, negotiating itinerary inclusion, and training agency staff. She develops and manages excellent relationships with travel trade partners and has a strong ability to do this with sensitivity and professionalism.