Indian MICE market has great growth potential, our biggest challenge is creating awareness

Resorts World at Sentosa is Singapore’s first integrated resort located on the resort island of Sentosa. It is home to Southeast Asia’s first-and-only Universal Studios theme park, the world’s largest oceanarium – Marine Life Park™, the Maritime Experiential Museum™, a casino, luxurious accommodation in six unique hotels, the Resorts World Convention Centre™, celebrity chef restaurants, a world-class spa as well as specialty retail outlets.

In this exclusive India Tourism Review interview, Theresa Gan, Vice President, National MICE & Group Sales, Resorts World Sentosa tells Aishwarya Singhal what have to offer to the Indian MICE traveler. She also highlights how RWS offers a one-stop MICE destination different from other MICE destinations all over the world.

Being largely gaming and entertainment based, how do you aim to attract MICE tourism from India? What kind of products do you have for the Indian MICE traveler?

Resorts World Sentosa’s offerings go beyond gaming and entertainment. As Singapore’s first integrated resort, the MICE offerings at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) pack a punch not only because of its ability to cater to 35,000 delegates at any one go, but more so, the quality of the unprecedented MICE options never available in this part of the world.

Our offerings include two key attractions – Universal Studios Singapore, which is Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park, and the Marine Life Park. Resorts World Convention Centre houses Asia’s largest column-free ballroom which can seat 6,500 delegates. There are also 37 function rooms and 20 varied indoor and outdoor event venues spread across the property. With our gamut of attractions, accommodations, entertainment and performances – all of which are housed under a single destination – we are offering a one-stop MICE destination that has never been available before.

MICE clients seek to accomplish more than just work during their events, be it exhibitions or conventions. At the integrated resort, we are more than just a venue space. There is a growing demand for a variety of activities, from business to leisure, and organisers are looking for a one-stop shop that cater for work in the day and after-hour leisure activities and networking opportunities in the evenings. By providing a wide array of attractions and entertainment options, Resorts World Sentosa is poised to meet these demands.

Universal Studios Singapore has been and continues to be a very popular choice for evening events, complete with unique and all-inclusive of entertainment, attractions and food experience, fully themed and delivered from start to finish by our MICE team. Event organisers have a wide variety of venues to choose from. Some of the more popular venues include the zone of New York, where companies and organisers can book an evening function that uses the streetscape of 1950s and 1960s nostalgic New York as a natural décor, yet is fully covered and sits 1,500 people banquet style, as well as the Waterworld Stunt Show Amphitheatre which seats 3,500 people amphitheatre style that can be booked as a venue, accompanied by Waterworld Stunt Show, complete with pyrotechnics and stunt performers.

The park also offers a special Scavenger Hunt program which has been popular as a company team-building activity. This Scavenger Hunt Team-Building Programme creates a unique and dynamic team bonding experience that revolves around Universal Studios Singapore, suitable for groups 20 persons and above. It comes with a choice of 3 levels and plays on puns and words that revolve around all things related and found at Universal Studios Singapore. Complimentary Scavenger Hunt themed group photos are also provisioned.

Over at the Marine Life Park, which consists of Adventure Cove Waterpark – the region’s only waterpark integrated with marine life; and S.E.A. Aquarium, which has recently been accredited with two Guinness World Records – World’s Largest Aquarium and housing the World’s Largest Acrylic Panel. Housing more than 100,000 marine animals from more than 800 species, the park features unique event spaces such as the Ocean Gallery giving delegates an underwater event experience like no other in front of the world’s largest aquarium viewing panel. Event organisers can also take line up a fun day out for teambuilding at the waterpark features the region’s first hydro-magnetic coaster, a 620-metre Adventure River, Bluwater Bay wave pool, and ray-feeding at Ray Bay, among others.

ESPA at Resorts World Sentosa also offers 10,000 square metres of luxury relaxation at Singapore’s largest destination spa, equipped with the first authentic Turkish Hammam. It is the brand’s flagship spa in Asia and an oasis for those wishing to escape from the city or taking time out from the resort’s attractions, making a spa retreat the perfect complementary item on the itinerary for delegates and their spouses.

There is wide-ranging dining and entertainment options available at the resort, offering different options for guests to conduct private networking session on the sidelines of the event. These include celebrity-chef restaurants to authentic hawker fares at the newly opened Malaysian Food Street to tantalise different taste buds, as well as shows such as the world’s largest animatronics spectacle – Crane Dance.

We also have a dynamic and dedicated MICE team that will not only customise every package to the needs of our clients, and not forgetting ideas which will add elements of thrill and surprise, but also ensure the smooth delivery of the events from planning to execution, paying close attention to every detail. We believe this personal touch by our dedicated MICE and Event Services teams are will give us an edge, especially with clients seeking variants in their events. Cookie cutter events are definitely not our signature.

What is your distribution channel in India? What is your marketing strategy?

As one of key leisure and business destination in Singapore, we work very closely with the Singapore Tourism Board in marketing the country’s offerings as a whole to India. India has been one of the top emerging markets for Singapore, and is one of Resorts World Sentosa’s key markets, besides Southeast Asia and Greater China. We work closely with travel agents as well as STB partners such as trade associations to further market our products, as well as engage with potential clients at major tradeshows such as TravelRave and IT&CM.

With our integrated resort fully opened as of last year, we now have a wide range of offerings to target different segments of the market. For India, clients are more discerning and our marketing efforts are currently focused on product updates as well as increasing awareness of our experiential offering.

Our existing products such as Universal Studios Singapore have established itself well in India as a leisure attraction. However, we will need to establish the awareness of our new offerings such as the Marine Life Park, and destination spa ESPA at Resorts World Sentosa, as well as new accommodation options such as the Ocean Suites and Tree Top Lofts. This tier of offerings can cater better to MICE clients from India, often seeking to integrate unique experiences in their MICE events.

How long have you been active in the Indian market? What are your growth expectations from here vis-a-vis MICE?

Since the integrated resort first opened in 2010, we have been active in the leisure sector of the Indian market. With the completion and opening of Marine Life Park in November 2012, we are now fully operational and will be placing more emphasis on the MICE sector in India as well. The majority of leads coming through from the market are incentive groups from the automobile, pharmaceutical and finance sectors.

As the market awareness for our offerings grows, and in light of forecasted slower growth in other markets with less optimistic outlook, we expect the MICE business from India to grow by at least 20% on-year in 2013.

Will you be concentrating only on the Tier-I cities in India?

At this stage, the focus will very much be on first- and second-tier cities, but we will continue to explore different opportunities and growth areas to target different cities and industries.

Can you list some of the initiatives you have planned to engage the travel trade from India? For example, training sessions or FAM trips or incentives, etc?

We are currently working with the Singapore Tourism Board closely to engage the travel trade industry. In the pipeline are trade shows, FAM trips for travel agents as well as incentive scheme for clients to hold experiential MICE events in Singapore. More details will be available later.

Do you foresee any challenges in tapping the MICE traffic from India?

The MICE market from India has great growth potential, and the biggest challenge is for us is creating awareness.

Singapore and India is very well connected and tourist arrivals from India continue to soar.  In terms of MICE traffic, regional competition is heating up as many cities seek to grow their MICE offerings and India is a key target for most, given its status as the one of the world’s largest emerging economies.

We are confident that our unique and differentiated offerings will bring about unprecedented event experiences for the delegates we host and leave an impression for a long time to come.

The MICE industry in India is fragmented, with less specialization than some other MICE destinations, how do you aim to resolve this?

We believe that the fragmented MICE industry will take some time to develop, given that the outbound MICE industry in India is still pretty much in the growth stage. We continue to work collaboratively with STB and other industry partners, such as DMCs which are now extending their reach in India. We are confident that with greater awareness of our offerings through education, FAM trips and incentive schemes, the market will develop over time and strong partners, including travel agents, will emerge in the current niche MICE industry.

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