Integrated resort wins over ITB Asia with sweet approach

MARINA Bay Sands (MBS), which has wrested ITB Asia from Suntec Singapore, said it was not overly generous in its bid, despite throwing in a host of sweeteners including bringing and accommodating an additional 100 of its worldwide buyers, hosting ITB Asia’s opening receptions and VIP C-suite lunches, and even offering free WiFi to all delegates.

Las Vegas Sands’ SVP worldwide sales and resort marketing Asia, John Mims, said the deal was consistent with the company’s “partnership” approach for all tradeshows and events.

Mims said: “ITB Asia is coming onto its own, so for us, it’s a great opportunity to partner them over the next three years, hopefully longer, and help make the show bigger and premier.

“All of the tradeshows, meetings, etc with us are partnerships in one way or another. It is in our interest and in theirs to align and make the show successful.”

MBS will be the official hotel and venue of ITB for three years from next year. It hosted ITB last year when Suntec – home to ITB since the show’s inception in 2008 – underwent modernisation works. With the five-year contract up, ITB Asia reopened the bid.

“Suntec has always provided us with an optimal business environment but we believe that our partnership with MBS will provide delegates with a more convenient and integrated experience,” said Nino Gruettke, ITB Asia’s executive director.

He also said Suntec could not ensure the availability of additional space for the next three years.

Suntec’s CEO, Arun Madhok, said the centre has not lost events due to renovations – ITB is looking for more space to grow beyond the space available at Suntec (42,000m2).

“We are seeing a high level of bookings well into next year and beyond,” he said, the line-up of which will be disclosed soon.

Meanwhile, this year is a record year for MBS in hosting 70 tradeshows, from 51 last year.

“A lot of that is due to our approach of looking at organisers as partners, not just buy-space,” Mims said. “As well, we’ve been opened three years, the operations team is doing a phenomenal job and we hear from clients that when they have meetings here, more people attend because they like the venue, Singapore, etc.”

There still is room for growth in terms of event space at MBS, he said, but in terms of occupancy, MBS is full, with MICE guests making up 20 per cent.

Latest full third-quarter report ending September shows a 99.8 per cent occupancy, and an average daily rate of US$401, an 11 per cent rise over the same period 2012.

Mims said it is likely MBS as official ITB Asia hotel will offer a special delegate rate.

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