As competition gets fiercer, Asia’s integrated resorts pull out all the stops to ensure the crowds keep coming.
Resorts World Sentosa
By Paige Lee Pei Qi
Since opening in January 2010, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) has constantly added new attractions to lure new and repeat visitors alike.
According to Tessa Er, vice president of resort marketing, RWS’ anchor attractions – Universal Studios Singapore and Marine Life Park – registered growth in visitor numbers in 2013.
Marine Life Park, which introduced new experiences including dolphin interaction programmes, welcomed more than three million visitors last year, she revealed.
To complement the interactive Trickeye Museum slated to open by mid-2014, RWS is developing a Korean cluster at the waterfront stretch, which will include more Korean F&B and fashion outlets.
In order to continue garnering “top-of-mind recall” for both new and repeat visitors, RWS will roll out key campaigns quarterly in 2014 to raise brand awareness across its key markets, as well as more signature events.
For example, Er said the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Singapore will be enhanced to “scare more local and regional fans” in its fourth installment.
“Our Marine Explorer tours and Ocean Dreams sleepover programmes at the SEA Aquarium have been very popular with families,” she said.
“Riding on this trend of fun learning, the Marine Life Park will also roll out more educational activities to enhance visitors’ experience at our attractions.”
To further tap the FIT segment, Er said: “We will also be enhancing our online and mobile platforms, as well as extending our partnership with travel portals, to provide easier access and targeted deals for our guests.”
What’s new Set to open in RWS by mid-year, the 800m2 Trickeye Museum will comprise six theme zones featuring 80 3D paintings and optical illusion masterpieces, allowing guests to not just view the paintings but walk into them and become part of the masterpiece. The Singapore outpost will also feature unique aspects such as the city’s thriving ecosystem of nature and wildlife.
Marina Bay Sands
By Paige Lee Pei Qi
Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is beefing up its shopping and entertainment offerings to fortify its standing as a premier lifestyle destination in Singapore.
Last November, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and Beckham Ventures entered into a partnership which will see former footballer and fashion icon David Beckham consulting on the development of dining, retail and leisure concepts at MBS.
Details of the partnership remain scarce, although LVS is expecting to cash in on Beckham’s immense popularity in Asia to promote both Singapore and Macau properties.
MBS has recorded a “positive momentum and growth” in the retail segment, according to John Mims, senior vice president of worldwide sales and resort marketing Asia, Las Vegas Sands Corp.
“With growing interest and demand from premium luxury brands to expand their presence at The Shoppes at MBS, we will see many luxury duplex stores being completed in 2014,” he added. “Many of these brands, such as Bulgari, Cartier, Dior, Miu Miu and Versace, will have their largest stores in Singapore at The Shoppes upon completion.”
Meanwhile, MBS continues to look out for headlining entertainment acts. In March, a free live simulcast of The Rolling Stones concert was projected in high definition on a 14m-wide LED screen at the Event Plaza as part of MBS’ open-to-public music festival.
Upcoming shows include the multi-million-dollar musical production Grease and live theatrical performance Tap Dogs.
Mims said: “We will conduct direct surveys and marketing research to understand the regional market dynamics as well as what our guests want to see, whether (it is) a Broadway musical, an intimate concert or a global headlining act,” he said.
What’s new Premium luxury brands like Bulgari, Cartier, Dior, Miu Miu and Versace will expand their presence at The Shoppes at MBS, with many duplex stores being completed this year. Renowned shows such as Grease and Tap Dogs have also been lined up.
Hong Kong Disneyland
By Prudence Lui
A stream of attractions at Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) over the last few years has helped it to stay popular, as has strong trade marketing programmes.
According to HKDL vice president of sales and distribution marketing, Terruce Wang, the three new themed areas launched over the past 18 months – Toy Story Land (2011), Grizzly Gulch (2012) and Mystic Point (2013) – have enabled the destination to build “more fun, memorable and comprehensive experiences” for repeat visitors and diverse age groups.
With increasing number of FITs opting for more packed itineraries and shorter stays, HKDL has bolstered its exposure through partnerships with OTAs and airlines to reach out to these fragmented segments.
Wang added: “We have designed more diversified travel products, for example, travel packages consisting of flight tickets and accommodation in the resort’s themed hotel, and special discount on admission tickets for designated boarding pass-holders, to meet the needs of FITs from different parts of the world.”
On the industry front, HKDL runs regular updates on the destination’s latest developments, in addition to webinars, exclusive preview days and in-market trade briefings.
He added: “We also work closely with our travel trade partners to diversify our products with creative special offers such as themed packages and offerings, F&B and merchandise discount coupons. Moreover, in-market trade briefings were staged across major cities in Asia-Pacific, using the ‘edutaining’ approach of education and entertainment to convey the essence of fun in the new experiences, which helped in encouraging trade partners to develop creative travel products.”
More satellite offices in China have also been set up and liaison representatives appointed in key overseas markets to ensure timely and effective communication with the trade.
Between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, the number of visitors for HKDL’s fiscal year hit 7.4 million. Overall hotel occupancy climbed to a record 94 per cent and guest spending also reached a new high with a six per cent year-on-year increase.
What’s new A new night parade called Disney Paint the Night will debut later this year, while upcoming initiatives include HKDL’s 10th anniversary celebration in 2015, the launch of a new Iron Man atrraction in 2016 and a 750-room resort-style hotel in 2017, which will boost the resort’s room inventory by 75 per cent to 1,750.
Ocean Park Hong Kong
By Prudence Lui
With visitor attendance projected to reach 8.5 million by 2020, Ocean Park Hong Kong has planned several new attractions in 2014 and a 495-key hotel in 2016, following the completion of a HK$5.5 billion (US$0.7 billion) redevelopment and expansion programme in mid-2012.
Recent themed debuts include The Rainforest, Thrill Mountain and Polar Adventure, which have raised the park’s number of attractions from 35 to over 80. Upcoming attractions in 2014 include a new shark aquarium and a koala exhibition, while a new water park will debut in 2017.
Recognising the importance of providing attractions “culturally relevant” to targeted markets, Ocean Park has weaved Hong Kong’s cultural heritage with Old Hong Kong – an attraction featuring typical street scenes from the 1950s to 1970s – and taken reference from local fables and ghost stories to create characters and offerings during Halloween, pointed out the park’s sales director, Rosalind Siu.
To drive higher attendance, Ocean Park has installed Wi-Fi on site, and rolled out a virtual guided tour, promotions and instant feeds on social network platforms. It is also establishing more digital payment methods.
Although China’s new tourism law implemented last October has led to a 30 per cent drop in group business in 4Q2013 compared with the same period in 2012, Siu maintained that targeted marketing campaigns have enabled Ocean Park to attract more FITs and locals.
To engage the trade, Ocean Park is participating in major travel fairs and trade shows in key source markets, and also works closely with tour operators in China and South-east Asia to develop packages for outbound tourists.
“From time to time, we organise outreach programmes for both large and small-scale travel (consultants) and media overseas to promote our big five events and new attractions. We also offer site visits and guided tours for the trade to keep them updated on the latest changes in the park,” said Siu.
In the 2012-13 fiscal year (ended June 30, 2013), attendance exceeded 7.7 million, up nine per cent from previous year while 2013 attendance rose one per cent to 7.5 million.
What’s new Shark Mystique is due to open in mid-2014, followed by Adventures in Australia (Koala exhibit) by the end of this year. The 495-room Ocean Hotel and Tai Shue Wan Waterpark are scheduled to launch in 2017.
Cotai Strip Resorts Macao
By Caroline Boey
Source: Cotai Strip Resorts Macao
Like the diversification drive within Macau’s tourism industry, Cotai Strip Resorts Macao is also stepping up on non-gaming developments as part of its growth strategy.
“Important growth (has been) achieved in non-gaming operations such as hotel, retail and entertainment offerings,” noted Fanny Chan, director of destination marketing of Cotai Strip Resorts Macao, which comprises Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao, The Plaza Macao and Sands Cotai Central.
“The company’s fundamental multi-tiered integrated resort development strategy, which features convention, exhibition, hotel, retail and entertainment offerings, helped drive 17.4 million visits in 4Q2013 to our properties, including more than eight million visitors to The Venetian Macao alone,” she added.For the whole year, Cotai Strip Resorts Macao welcomed nearly 63 million visitors.
Two major developments, the 3,000-key Parisian Macao and the 700-key St Regis Tower, are currently under construction and targeted for completion in late-2015.
To keep its entertainment value high, A-list celebrities and pop stars such as Rihanna and Justin Bieber as well as boxing legend Manny Pacquiao have been brought in, while upcoming acts include The Rolling Stones and Stacey Kent.
Among the new marketing ideas is DreamWorks Gang Private Party, a fun setting for corporate events and special occasions of any size, following last year’s debut of the DreamWorks Experience offering breakfast and interaction opportunities with DreamWorks characters.
“We constantly work with our trade partners to provide them with (information on) upcoming events and hotel packages as well as different marketing materials. They are actively passing the information on to their clients through cooperative advertising, their websites and social media platforms,” she added. A series of B2B tradeshows and B2C consumer shows in overseas markets have also been planned this year.
What’s new The DreamWorks Experience includes Shrekfast – a buffet breakfast experience where guests can interact with DreamWorks characters – and DreamWorks All Star Parade. The 3,000-room Parisian Macao and the 700-room St Regis Tower are two major developments targeted for completion in late-2015.
By S Puvaneswary
As one of the oldest amusement parks in Asia, the 21-year-old Sunway Lagoon is no stranger to competition.
“When (Sunway Lagoon) first opened (in 1993), we had no competitors in the city. Today, our competition is from other theme parks in South-east Asia, (with) destinations like Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines made accessible with cheap airfares from LCCs,” commented Bill Holman, consultant director of Sunway Lagoon. “The Internet is our other challenge as everybody can surf to see what new attractions are available at theme parks elsewhere.”
The destination currently offers attractions ranging from an interactive zoo featuring small animals to adrenaline-pumping activities like paintball shooting and bungee jumping and a water theme park with one of the world’s largest surf pools.
Holman looks to the 2015 debut of Nickelodeon Land – the first such theme park in South-east Asia – featuring water-based attractions and live shows as a “game changer” for Sunway Lagoon, as the new concept will appeal to a younger crowd aged two to 15.
Besides attracting an increasing number of corporate events, Sunway Lagoon’s leisure share has “increased exponentially”, growing 10 per cent last year from 2012 and posting a 26 per cent year-on-year increase in January 2014, he shared.
“Our new marketing strategy is to encourage visitors to take photos and videos using their smartphones as these will be posted on social media channels. It is free advertising for us,” Holman added.
At the same time, Sunway Lagoon is examining new avenues such as more TV and digital-based advertising in its major markets to support travel consultants, in addition to hosting regular fam trips for the trade and attending major travel and tourism fairs within Asia.
What’s new Sunway Lagoon recently opened Tiger Land while the Wildlife Park is currently being upgraded to exhibit more endangered animals. A high dive show will be performed thrice daily at the Giant Surf Pool area from May 1, and Cleopatra’s Adventure will be introduced in the Scream Park attraction in 2H2014. Nickelodeon Land will debut in 1Q2015.
Legoland Malaysia Resort
By S Puvaneswary
Legoland Malaysia Resort hopes to woo more international visitors, having transformed last year from a theme park into a resort and with several upcoming attractions on the way.
Mark Germyn, general manager of Legoland Malaysia Resort, said: “Since the opening of the Legoland Hotel in November 2013, we are seeing visitor growth not just from our resident market (Johor and Singapore) and local domestic tourist market (Klang Valley) but an increase in the number of international tourists.”
To attract more foreign visitors, Legoland will train its sights on its two key international markets, Indonesia and Hong Kong. “In Q2, we will organise roadshows and ground events in Indonesia to drive stronger tourist visits. In Hong Kong, we will continue to do both B2B and B2C marketing,” Germyn shared.
However, Germyn also acknowledged that the biggest challenge in attracting families in Malaysia and Singapore – the park’s two biggest resident markets – lies in their preference for travel during school holidays. “Thanks to good response from Indonesia, Hong Kong and other Asian countries, we are also busy when there are no school holidays in Malaysia and Singapore,” he added.
Other initiatives to boost leisure visitation include an Annual Pass – a particularly value-for-money programme for the local market, according to Germyn – plus F&B promotions and Lego-building activities on a monthly basis.
Besides roadshows, trade missions, fam trips and media engagement to keep the industry abreast of the park’s developments, Legoland also offers incentives to trade partners and works closely with tourism offices and airlines to create attractive packages.
What’s new This month will see the opening of Lego Legends of Chima Miniland – which comes less than a year after the launch of the Legends of Chima Movie at the 4D Cinema. This will be followed by the Q4 debut of Lego Star Wars Miniland, a fully air-conditioned indoor attraction featuring all the six Star Wars films and over 2,000 Lego models.
Bukit Gambang Resort City
By S Puvaneswary
Visitor attendance at Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC) has been on the ascent in recent years, with the number of visitors to its Water Park steadily rising from 521,000 in 2011 to 610,000 in 2012 and 646,000 in 2013, according to head of marketing, Nasiruddin Nasrun.
At the same time, average visitor revenue has also seen a corresponding increase, growing from RM27 (US$8.20) in 2010 to RM32 in 2011 and RM35.40 last year.
The addition of the 868-room Arabian Bay Resort in October 2012 boosted inventory to 1,866 rooms, while the Safari Park is the latest of BGRC’s theme parks to open in September 2013.
For 2014, the resort will focus on promoting the new safari park and improving its services. “Opening up new attractions doesn’t guarantee visitors will come if there are no promotions being done,” said Nasiruddin. “We are now looking at promoting our resort to foreign visitors, especially those from the Middle East, China, Singapore and Indonesia.”
BGRC’s location on the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia poses a challenge in marketing to leisure visitors, as domestic visitors, especially those residing in Klang Valley, have to be convinced that the resort is “less than a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur”, Nasiruddin explained. Foreign visitors also need to be persuaded that it “is as attractive as traditional destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi”.
Urging travel agencies to sell beyond the usual hotspots, she added: “They should be brave enough to take bold steps in promoting new destinations as this will also increase the (range of) destinations and attractions that they can offer to their clients.”
In addition to conducting trade fam trips and working with the tourism authorities to enhance its presence in the industry, BGRC has also engaged a Dubai-based marketing representative to promote the resort to agencies in the Middle East. Besides participating in ATF, it will also be present at ATM and other B2B travel fairs targeting the Chinese market.
What’s new The addition of the 868-room Arabian Bay Resort in October 2012 and the opening of the Bukit Gambang Safari Park in September 2013, which has five regions such as Wild Savannah and Night Jungle. Sprawled across approximately 100 football fields, up to 420 species of animals can be found in its rainforest.
Resorts World Genting
By S Puvaneswary
Despite the three-year closure of its Outdoor Theme Park since September 2013, Resorts World Genting (RWG) is still raking in strong business, according to the resort’s spokesperson.
During Lunar New Year, visitor headcount to the park was about 150,000 on the first day, similar to previous years’ attendance figure during the same period.
The resort kicked off the year with the Transformers’ 30th Anniversary Exhibition and International Buskers Festival. Although the much-anticipated Twentieth Century Fox World theme park is set for a 2016 opening, guests would still get to participate in related activities and meet iconic mascots in the coming months. Other new developments this year include an additional 1,300 rooms at the First World Hotel.
Meanwhile, there will be attractive offers of shows, rooms, F&B and indoor theme park tickets, plus concerts at the Arena of Stars with artistes scheduled to perform every week.
“Today’s holidaymakers are well travelled and have higher expectations. Bringing in an international brand such as Twentieth Century Fox and developing the world’s first theme park (of its kind) in Malaysia would offer tourists an exciting experience and new perspective when choosing a venue for their holiday,” said RWG’s spokesperson, who added that the resort would also be introducing a new cable car system as well as more retail, F&B and accommodation offerings when the park opens.
Travel agencies remain an important conduit in spurring continuous growth in room sales and tourist arrivals for the resort, which is working closely with Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau on roadshows and tradeshows overseas to reach its target markets.
What’s new Further upgrading of hotel rooms and additional 1,300 rooms at First World Hotel. There will also be activities centred around Twentieth Century Fox World, which is scheduled to open its first theme park globally at RWG in 2016.
Resorts World Manila
By Rosa Ocampo
While Resorts World Manila (RWM) has not introduced new attractions of late, it is keeping a strong marketing and promotion focus on the non-gaming sector.
RWM has recreated Filipinos’ love for fiestas by frequently hosting feasts, parades and revelry, including a month-long Christmas celebration, to bring in more visitors “regardless of niche markets”, said Martin Paz, vice president for marketing communications.
To sate Filipinos’ love for beauty pageants, RWM has staged the Miss Resorts World Manila beauty contest and hosted several beauty pageants. Reality shows and contests are also crowd pullers. A membership card was also recently introduced to non-gamers, allowing cardholders to earn and use points for purchases, discounts and freebies.
“They’re bringing the leisure and events markets not just from Manila but from provincial clientele as well,” observed John Paul Cabalza, president, Philippine Travel Agencies Association. “You also see small associations and groups from, say, Visayas, holding their events at RWM.”
“We have contracted rates for their hotels,” said Marjorie Aquino, inbound sales and marketing manager, Blue Horizons Travel and Tours, adding that RWM has built up good rapport with the trade.
These marketing and promotions, which include an extensive social media campaign, have reduced the perception that RWM is a costly place, drawing attention to its three hotels for budget, mid-range and upscale travellers. It has also rolled out a staycation programme for families at its all-suite Maxims Hotel.
What’s new The expansion of Marriott Hotel Manila – featuring a new wing with 228 guestrooms and a three-storey convention centre – and Maxims Hotel’s 170 additional suites are due to complete by 2015. Hilton and Sheraton hotels, each with 350 guestrooms, as well as Belmont Luxury Hotel and Savoy Hotel with 500 rooms combined, are expected to come online in the next three years.
Solaire Resort & Casino
By Rosa Ocampo
Solaire Resort & Casino, the first of four integrated resorts at the Entertainment City along Manila Bay, has just marked its first year anniversary.
However, the destination has faced some hurdles in attracting the leisure market as its major non-gaming leisure facilities – a 1,800-pax theatre, a high-end retail area and more F&B outlets – will be launched only within this year. While it has the usual line-up of concerts, boxing matches and shows, most events are now held in its Grand Ballroom.
In addition, Solaire’s reputation as an expensive destination also makes it a challenge to find the right formula while working with the trade.
Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president, John Paul Cabalza, noted that Solaire has an open door to events and works with travel agencies by offering contracted rates.
According to Bill Barnett, managing director of hotel and hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks, Solaire has shifted to MICE and corporate clientele because it is unable to attract foreign gaming guests.
Unlike Resorts World Manila and City of Dreams Manila, as a freestanding integrated resort operator without foreign connections, Solaire lacks the advantage of having the “database of existing regional clients who have credit lines which can be extended to their Philippine properties”, Barnett posited.
What’s new Solaire expects to launch within 2014 an additional 300 suites, a Broadway-style theatre for up to 1,800 pax, a retail area housing up to 35 luxury brands, another 3,000 parking spaces, a night club and more restaurants.