Aerial view of Genting’s winning bid Resort World, courtesy of Channelnewsasia
By now, the news would already have been out. Genting International and Star Cruises, the widely-anticipated front runner in the $5 billion plus Sentosa Integrated Resorts stakes, had won the bid.
While the design of their Resorts World may not match the architectural statement and drama of Frank Gehry’s light and glass creation for Kerzner International, it had most of the right ingredients. This included the combination of Universal Studios theme park, Dreamworks Studio, record breaking aquarium, water theme park, and maritime museum. Add to that Genting’s expertise in the Asian tourism market (with 20 million annual visitors to their Genting Highlands Resort) and ability to keep to the nature focus of Sentosa (70% green cover) and it is clear why they won.
With that first major hurdle out of the way, how can an attraction like Resorts World do well in Singapore’s market? Here are some thoughts from an operator’s point of view:
1) Do not neglect the locals. Long-term sustainability of major attractions depend very much on local acceptance. We not only make up a big percentage of customers, but also help to promote the attraction through Word Of Mouth (WOM).
2) Partner tour operators, tour guides and hotel concierges. Right from the word “Go”, identify who the major movers and shakers are. Get in touch with the big inbound tour operators like RMG and SH Tours, and establish sweet deals (commission and kickbacks) with hotel concierges. Educate the tour guides and make it worth their while to become your ambassadors.
3) Work with grassroot bodies. The CDCs, Community Clubs, People’s Association, and schools are key local stakeholders. Invite them for tea and show them the educational and enrichment value that your attraction provides. See also if specially tailored programmes could be developed with an edu-tainment focus.
4) Smoothen transportation channels. Make it a point to work with airlines, bus and rail operators early. See if they could assist in providing new transport services, directional signs or other guides to show people the way. Provide maps, easy guides and orientation sessions for taxi drivers so that they know how to bring their passengers there.
5) Quality service is a must. What makes Disneyland, Universal Studios and Six Flags tick is more than just the hardware and software. It is also the heartware. Start training all your employees and associates early, especially if service orientation isn’t in their lifeblood. All it takes are a few bad apples to drive away customers.
6) Think long tail (or many long tails). Do not bank entirely on your biggest blockbuster shows or most important customers. Look at ways to generate multiple streams of income beyond ticketing – such as merchandising, shows, tram rides, and function rentals. Be nice to your niche customers even though they may not necessarily be your big rollers. To recover the huge investment and operating costs, you will need smaller pipelines beyond your mainstay.
7) Reinvent and rejuvenate constantly. Ultimately, an attraction is all about flash, dash and splash. Identify and plan for multiple opportunities to create and generate news beyond the initial hype and hoopla. Constantly seek to reinvent yourself and your product offering, as well as the visitor experience. Space them out so that they do not crowd each other.
8) Pay attention to operational details. Don’t let equipment failures, accidents and thefts ruin your guest’s experience. Make sure that daily checks are made on your rides, exhibition displays, and lightings. Safety is a key prerogative, and do not ever compromise on the rules and regulations governing this. Finally, take note that technology – no matter how state-of-the-art – may and do always fail during critical junctures. Ensure that you have Plan B ( C or D).
Some valid points. On the macro level, how do you think genting should position sentosa in the world? will sentosa have an adverse impact on genting highlands in malaysia?
the 8 points sound like a leaf from management 101. you may like to consider affordability of the gated attractions and the access to sentosa as well. the traffic congestion as it is now is pretty bad.
Thanks for your remarks. In terms of global positioning, I believe the idea is for Sentosa to be considered a premium Asian tourism product for families and holiday goers. This can be seen partly in the sky high prices fetched by private homes in Sentosa Cove.
Sentosa also offers a mixed bag of attractions on the island, with the IR, Underwater World, Luge, Butterfly Park, 3 beaches (Siloso, Palawan, Tanjung), Images of Singapore and Fort Siloso.
On the other hand, Genting Highlands, positioned as a City of Entertainment, is largely seen as a gambler’s paradise. Its USPs are the cool climate, cheap hotels, and interesting Asian-based entertainment. The casino element is much more central in Genting’s draw compared to Sentosa’s.
Agree with you on the traffic congestion, which is why Sentosa and LTA has built the SMRT train going all the way into the major attractions. Gradually, parking charges may be raised as demand increases, and this may halt the flow of cars into the island.
In terms of charges, Universal Studios is bound to be higher in prices say than Underwater World of Images of Singapore. That is natural due to the sheer size and spectacle of its rides (16 new ones no doubt). However, I don’t see that the other attractions on the island will be much more expensive as the market will only bear this much for certain types of attractions. Usually thematic offerings with global names and nature/wildlife parks can afford to charge higher prices say compared to museums.
I was disappointed that Genting won the bid even though I hold Genting Int’l shares. First thing, sell on Monday!
If you have been to Genting Highlands, you would have seen how badly managed their resort & casino is. They don’t treat their customers well. I was there during last Deepavali & I had a long list of complaints. I decided not to send it. Why help it to improve itself?
I hope they won’t make Singapore ‘lose face’.
interesting angle you chose when reflecting on Genting’s win. Everyone else wrote on why they thought Genting won, you actually have advice for them on how to run the business. Intriguing.