How Resorts World Can Succeed

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).

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