Fantasy turns reality : Macau

Macau may be challenged to meet demand for themed corporate events, but it is not looking about to fold, Prudence Lui writes

STUDIOCITY
New hotels reflect an aspiration to transform Macau beyond being just a
gaming destination; Studio City (pictured), boasts several event venues
on top of offering themed gala events

With there being tight restrictions on the use of government-owned unique sites in the territory, hotels and venues in Macau are increasingly having to cater to demand for corporate themed events.

Studio City, for example, has developed a forte in such events. It offers various conceptual venues such as the Event Garden, French Garden, Golden Reel and Pacha Macau. Its signature Hollywood themed dinner has been popular, as well as its Great Gatsby gala dinner – which involves a roaring twenties band, dance performers and themed décor and photo booths.

The resort recently organised the Hollywood Glamorous dinner for 2,000 participants at the multipurpose Studio City Event Center.

Grand Hyatt Macau is another property that has created parties based on themes, including Modern and Chic, Opulence Ball, Shanghai 1930s and Pool Party.

“The Dai Pai Dong-themed coffee break we recently introduced allows our clients to have a taste of local comfort foods while having a meeting. (Instead of giving delegates) a traditional coffee break, we invite a tea master to brew traditional ‘silk stocking’ milk tea, which is then served with Macau handmade egg rolls or a variety of street foods,” general manager, Paul Kwok, said.

On the appeal of themed events today, Grand Hyatt noted that participants are interested in their storytelling aspect and dynamicity, and want to broadcast these experiences via social media.

Kwok further pointed out that a key (motivation) of international MICE planners is to allow participants to explore local culture and experience something different from the normal setup. Companies almost always look for a theme for their welcome or farewell gala dinner to leave lasting memories for their participants, he continued. 

Adding to that, MCI’s managing director for Macau, Peter Hassall, said: “The days of large themed events seemed to have disappeared for the moment, with clients opting for more of a small touch of décor with entertainment or to experience an off-site meal somewhere that reflects the destination in a restaurant if the group is not too large.”

A Studio City spokesman said: “Demand is positive, especially from international attendees. We are also seeing more requests from China and Hong Kong.”

However, hosting a themed event can be daunting for some clients, as there are difficulties in amassing resources such as venue, creative manpower, time and hefty investments, opined Kwok.

Fortunately, this is looking set to improve, with Hassall pointing out that the city’s events hardware is evolving in a good way.

“With properties (keen on) changing the perception of Macau as just a gambling destination, the design of new buildings and renovations of existing properties are providing more choices for groups.”

Specifically, he pointed out that The Parisian Macao will spark interest throughout Asia-Pacific and on its own could see good business given the size and style of the property.

The Parisian Macao boasts a total area of 5,200m2 of meeting space catering to various uses, including a teambuilding event for 20 participants or a gala dinner for up to  2,600 guests.

A spokesman from the resort told TTGmice: “MICE groups can also enjoy views from the observation decks at levels seven and 37 of The Parisian Macao’s half-size recreation of the Eiffel Tower. Every evening there will be a lighting ceremony when the tower lights (up).

He added that for Paris-themed activities, the Parisian Streetmosphere offers live street performances that recreate some of the French capital’s most famous cultural and historical cameos. Performers range from high-kicking cancan dancers, to caricaturists and mimes to French cabaret singers.

MACAU2
Clockwise below: Macau Peninsula’s glittering structures;
traditional incense coils burning in A-Ma Temple; artist’s
impression of The Parisian Maca

{Talking Numbers}

21
Macau’s standing in the 2015 ICCA Asia-Pacific rankings, up 38 places from 2012, where it was in 59th place

108
The percentage growth in Macau’s exhibition space from 94,000m2 to 197,000m2 in the past five years

909
The number of conferences hosted in Macau in 2015, according to data from Macao’s Statistics and Census Service. Of this, 540 were corporate meetings, 173 were conferences or organisation/association meetings, 57 were major conference, and 78 were exhibitions

{Developments to Watch}

1The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is now under construction. When complete, It will shorten travel time for travellers. Those driving from Hong Kong to Macau, for example, would only take 30 minutes, making Macau a convenient add-on for business event programmes in Hong Kong.
HK-Zhuhai-Macau-bridge
picture by cozyta/shutterstock.com

2The number of hotel rooms is expected to increase to 50,000 in the next few years, which will substantially boost Macau’s capacity for business events and provide more choices for event planners.

3The four-storey north extension of the Macau International Airport passenger terminal building is slated to complete in 2Q2017. It will add 14,000m2 of floor space and increase the designated passenger capacity from six million to around 7.5 to 7.8 million persons.

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