Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Marina Bay Sands Casino hotel eyes biggest trade shows

Marina Bay Sands expects MICE business to be in full swing in five years

Marina Bay Sands, the US$5.5bil integrated resort in Singapore, is expected to see its meeting, incentive, convention and exhibitions (MICE) business run at capacity in three to five years after the resort opens its doors early next year.

President and chief operating officer Michael A. Leven said it would take time for Marina Bay Sands to attract the biggest and leading conventions and trade shows but he was confident that Asia’s largest ballroom would see its enormous capacity taken up in a matter of time.

“It is going to take a couple of years. Usually in the hospitality and convention industry, the problem is some of these conventions get booked four to five years in advance, especially the very large ones,” he said in a briefing.

“It’s going to take some time before that frees up.”

Leven was speaking after the topping-up ceremony of Marina Bay Sands earlier this month.

The Marina Bay Sands construction site stands along a major highway in Singapore. The US$5.5bil Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino project is expected to open in January or February. – AP

When completed, the resort’s MICE facilities would cater to 45,000 delegates.

There will be 250 meeting rooms at the facility and the building is able to host 2,000 booths.

The ballroom alone can cater up to 11,000 people in a single event.

“I view this particular product as being the dominant Asian MICE building and Singapore has tremendous appeal internationally. I don’t see why this won’t be on the circuit of the major trade shows,” said Leven.

“The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre is sold out and it is not very big, We get a shot at that (business).”

On its own, the MICE business will not be a tremendous profit centre for the resort as Leven said it would feed onto what the rest of the integrated resort had to offer.

The resort would be cashflow positive within the first couple of months of operations, said Leven.

Marina Bay Sands is the most expensive “casino” in the Las Vegas Sands group.

The iconic development features three 55-storey hotels that will have a 375m long SkyPark on the top of the hotels. The SkyPark will have 1ha of open space.

Leven said Marina Bay Sands would have greater variety than the group’s business in Macau in its present configuration.

“Macau is heavily gaming-orientated. We are in the process of building our MICE and tourist businesses there but it is a much smaller situation because of the nature of Macau as a destination,” he said.

Leven said Singapore was more couple- and family-friendly than Macau had traditionally been.

“A higher percentage of our business will come from non-gaming operations than Macau today. Over the future we expect Macau to change its percentage as the Cotai Strip gets more built up. Marina Bay Sands will be more typical of Las Vegas than Macau is today,” he said.

Leven was also cordial when discussing the competition between Marina Bay Sands and Genting’s Resorts World at Sentosa saying the two resorts complement instead of compete with each other.

“I think Genting is a significant addition. I like the idea. I know it sounds strange liking Genting there because I think it’s going to help the overall tourist attraction base to Singapore itself,” he said.

Leven said the promotional activity by both integrated resorts would only help and their respective themes and features would be enough to differentiate one from another.

“From a marketing perspective, Sentosa will be more a family-orientated resort than we will. There will be some meeting and small MICE competition.

“From a competition standpoint and from the business travel, there will not be a significant amount of competition.

“There is a very big difference between the two places,” he said, adding that competition would be limited to the VIP and premium players at their respective casinos.

Leven said that once Marina Bay Sands fully opened, the number of people on its premises should average between 50,000 and 75,000 daily.

It would go as high as 100,000 people on certain days. The visitors to the Macau Venetian is roughly 65,000 people a day.

Marina Bay Sands is counting on attracting a large number of visitors from Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Thailand.

Source : STAR
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