Thursday, November 20, 2008

Marina Bay Sands to help MICE industry's growth

Business Times - 20 Nov 2008

Marina Bay Sands to help MICE industry's growth
By NISHA RAMCHANDANI
DESPITE the gloomy economic climate, Marina Bay Sands will help spur the
local MICE industry and intends to work with Singapore's tourism players to
achieve this growth.
'While there is some belt-tightening, many exhibitors will still attend
trade shows. I am confident we will widen the portfolio of trade shows
here,' says Wolfram Diener, vice-president of conventions and exhibitions
for Marina Bay Sands. Operations in Macau can act as a springboard to bring
new trade shows to Singapore, he reckons.
Mr Diener says the Marina Bay Sands MICE facilities are on target to open at
end-2009, but the company will forego major MICE events until the first
quarter of 2010 to allow sufficient time to be 'ready to deliver service
excellence'.
He believes Singapore's geographic location and the large number of
companies based here stand the island in good stead to host more corporate
meetings.
Additionally, trade shows and corporate meetings may encourage business
travellers to return as leisure travellers, he feels.
However, he acknowledges that the corporate meetings segment is likely to
soften in the short term, especially as clients such as those in the
financial services look to cut costs in trying times.
While corporate meetings are unlikely to come to a standstill, since they
serve as both an incentive and a source of education for staff, Mr Diener
thinks companies will instead shorten the duration of meetings and shave
spending on them about some 20 per cent.
As costs in Singapore are higher than elsewhere in the region, the island
has to work to communicate its strengths - efficiency, transparency and
reliability - to win business.
However, this has to be done hand in hand with the rest of the tourism
industry, he says. 'We need to work together to keep Singapore strong as a
MICE and travel destination.'