Beyond the shiny surface

Demand for experiential offerings is growing among travellers to Singapore, spurring inbound tour operators, hotels and resorts to serve up a new breed of tours and activities.

Potato Head Folk resides within a heritage building on Keong Saik Road in Chinatown

As the red-hot craze for immersive travel gains ground, tourism proponents in Singapore are getting creative by whipping up experiential and value-added activities for intrepid travellers.

Kicking off industry-wide efforts was the Tour Design Challenge launched last year by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), which selected tour operators for a programme comprising industry workshops, site visits, pitching and grant support for selected applicants to pilot these new tours.

Potato Head Folk resides within a heritage building on Keong Saik Road in Chinatown

The challenge helped launch innovative tours such as Singapore 1920s: Trails of Ah Huat by Let’s Go Singapore and the back-of-house Silicon Valley of Singapore Insider tour by UBE Singapore.

Furthermore, under this year’s Marketing Innovation Programme, STB awarded seven businesses up to S$1.3 million (US$933,428) for marketing proposals that introduced a new dimension to storytelling about Singapore. One of the winning businesses, local e-commerce company Carousell, will launch a campaign – Embark on Your Great Singapore Treasure Trail – inviting Indonesian users to explore Singapore by planning their own ‘treasure trail’ itinerary using the Carousell app.

The need for innovative visitor experiences is not lost on the local hospitality sector. The young Six Senses Maxwell has paired with Jane’s Singapore Tours to bring guests through locales such as MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Botanic Gardens and the Civic District.

Capella Singapore, under the Capella Curates programme, has launched the Qi & The City experience that whizzes guests around the city in vintage sidecars, while providing commentary about the fengshui principles reflected in the local architecture along the way.

Murray Aitken, general manager, Six Senses Singapore, expressed: “We want to be an intrinsic part of the local fabric and culture, and if this calls for a deeper exploration of community partners who can bring about a layered approach to help our guests reconnect with themselves and experience the community, then we will continue to innovate, look for experiences that are always unique – often unexpected, sometimes unusual – and partner with leading experts.”

The trend has spilled over even to Singapore’s two integrated resorts, which are building on the traditional resort model to provide more experiential offerings. As part of a suite of massive expansion plans, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will increase its gross floor area by about 50 per cent to usher in new attractions, while Marina Bay Sands (MBS) will welcome a fourth tower and a 15,000-seat indoor entertainment arena.

Putting a greater focus on immersive products and services, RWS will first open a pirate-themed “adventure dining playhouse” in end-2020 to replace the Resorts World Theatre. Arriving in phases through to 2025 will be a public seafront attraction with free evening light shows and a new waterfront lifestyle complex helmed by two new hotels.

Additionally, Universal Studios Singapore will unveil two new themed sections – Minion Park and Super Nintendo World – and S.E.A. Aquarium will more than triple in size and be rebranded as the proposed Singapore Oceanarium. The transformed resort, which will be backed by a S$4.5 billion investment, is touted to “create a new wave of tourism growth for the next decade”.

Tan Hee Teck, CEO of RWS, said: “RWS will form an integral part of the future Greater Southern Waterfront and become a centrepiece of the transformative journey to enliven the southern corridor.”

Meanwhile, MBS has already begun flexing its creative muscle in the lead-up to its expansion. Where celebrity chef restaurants and Michelin-star dining were once all the rage, consumers are now hungry for an experience beyond the meal.

Mike Lee, vice president of sales, MBS, explained: “Guests now want to be entertained while they dine, and be simulated by visual and aural senses. Think DJs taking centrestage in a restaurant, theatrical show kitchens and a playlist that sets the mood of a venue and the ensuing conversations of its guests.”

That mentality is distilled in the resort’s fresh F&B concepts recently opened with TAO Group that have “morphed entertainment and food” together, shared Lee, referring to rooftop restaurant Lavo, inventive nightclub Marquee, and Japanese restaurant and sushi bar Koma.

MBS has also taken the visitor experience to the next experiential level with the Wonderland trail, an adventure and food tour inspired by the ArtScience Museum’s Wonderland exhibition. The trail brackets a visit to the exhibition with a specially concocted Wonderland Crazyshake at Black Tap and Wonderland-themed high tea at the signature Renku Bar & Lounge.

Sponsored Post