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IRs must provide non-gaming elements to ensure sustainable success: industry experts

March 21, 2024 Philippines Events & AnnouncementsIndustry Updates

Integrated Resorts (IRs), which provide a wide range of activities to draw guests, have long been associated with gambling. However recently, the emphasis has been on improving the non-gaming aspects of these resorts.

Experts from the industry participated in a panel discussion during the 6th ASEAN Gaming Summit that provided insight into how these non-gaming components are increasing revenue and evolving into stand-alone attractions that draw tourists and boost brand value.

Mike Chan, Managing Director at Cape Bridge Creations, Knut Becker, Vice President for F&B at Newport World Resorts, and Tracey Winslow, Chief Revenue Officer at TransAct Technologies, provided insightful commentary on the development of non-gaming products at IRs.

Knut Becker began the conversation by outlining an innovative method used in the Philippines, where unique dining experiences were planned for their restaurant.

These events included attendees dressed traditionally, with music tailored to the area and meals selected from different regions. This meticulous attention to detail enhanced the eating experience while showcasing a specific region’s cultural richness.

“We are currently exploring the possibility of introducing a similar dining experience from a different region in our restaurant. This initiative aims to offer a unique perspective beyond Philippine cuisine alone. Given the Philippines’ rich diversity with numerous regions and provinces, each boasting distinct dishes, we seek to highlight this culinary variety by showcasing the same dish prepared and executed in different ways up to five times,” he said.

Joji Kokuryo then underlined how crucial it is for integrated resorts to vary their offers. Even if gaming can be the main attraction, having a variety of attractions guarantees that people will come back and make money.

Tracey Winslow repeated the same ideas, highlighting the need for integrated resorts to develop as attractive travel destinations outside of the gambling industry.

“I believe it’s an evolutionary process. Initially, integrated resorts may primarily focus on gaming. However, over time, it becomes evident that there are additional revenue streams and strategies to enhance the gaming experience,” she said.

Tracey Winslow added that diversifying offerings within the integrated resort becomes key to attracting a broader audience and establishing the destination’s appeal. She said that evolution is reminiscent of the transformation observed in Las Vegas, where there was a significant shift towards prioritizing dining experiences, resulting in substantial revenue growth. This trend is not limited to specific locations as opportunities abound globally.

“The goal is to differentiate the resort, making it a destination that people are eager to visit, stay at, and fully immerse themselves in,” she said.

The panelists also said that it is rather simple to integrate non-gaming activities in integrated resorts as many people have different interests. The panelists discussed their favorite non-gaming experiences and encounters highlighting the variety of services available in integrated resorts and emphasizing how crucial it is to provide guests with unique, memorable experiences.

Joji Kokuryo, Managing Director of Bay City Venture who was also the discussion moderator, said that even a simple orchestra musical event can improve the overall guest experience.

“It’s quite straightforward—my favorite non-gaming event was an orchestra performance in Macau. It featured a university orchestra playing in front of a diverse audience, including students and family members. Beyond the music itself, what stood out was how it fostered a sense of community. Employees’ families were present, and the event served as a unifying experience,” he said.

Tracey Winslow described an NFL football game that was played in London’s Hippodrome, which drew a wide range of spectators by customizing the experience to fit local tastes and include aspects of the game, as her favorite non-gaming experience. These kinds of activities not only increase foot traffic but also raise the resort’s total entertainment value.

“It perfectly encapsulates the global theme we’re discussing. The event transformed the theater into a vibrant NFL experience, with attendees donning their football jerseys and indulging in football-themed cuisine. It was a fantastic gathering that attracted a large crowd to the casino, exposing them to something truly unique. While the Hippodrome regularly hosts NFL football weekends now, the excitement was palpable during the inaugural Super Bowl event,” she said.

All of the panelists agreed that IRs have evolved beyond models that are primarily focused on games. About the future, the panelists conveyed hope about Southeast Asia’s ability to host successful non-gaming events. Becker emphasized the area’s thriving food industry and said it offers plenty of chances to hold events that appeal to both local and foreign palates.

The session ended with the panelist saying that it’s becoming clearer that non-gaming components are essential to the long-term viability of integrated resorts. IRs may establish themselves as top destinations that serve a diverse spectrum of interests and ensure long-term success in an industry that is always evolving by embracing diversity and innovation.

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