By Stephen Reilly
Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.” In this fast changing world we live in, there has never been a time that this adage holds more truth than it does today. The integrated resort industry is a relatively new concept in the Philippines, and while it might be accurate to say that it is still in its embryonic stage after we opened the first just eight years ago, it could also be argued that it is growing and developing at an unprecedented rate, changing the country’s entertainment and gaming landscape virtually overnight.
Perception accounts for a lot and once upon a time, gaming carried a certain stigma with casinos stereotyped as venues of dubious repute. But integrated resorts are changing all that. People have stopped thinking of integrated resorts as casinos with auxiliary facilities attached, but instead as one seamless entertainment offering under one roof. Such a perception is crucial for the integrated resort industry to flourish and evolve into an industry that is not just for gaming enthusiasts but tailor-made for the entire family.
This is a vital consideration in the Philippines, a country where families are particularly close-knit. Naturally, next generation integrated resorts will depend largely on consumer trends and available technologies for each of its foundations — namely hospitality, gaming, retail, dining, and entertainment. While they are traditional, they must always be part of the equation while keeping up with the ever-changing preferences and behaviors of the customer. Psychographic segmentation will play a critical role in understanding what they want in order for operators and designers of integrated resorts to focus on understanding the patrons’ attitudes, interests, lifestyles, personalities, values, and so on.
Gradually, consumers are moving away from traditional resorts in favor of culturally authentic attractions that allow for rapid consumption of multiple experiences and promote interaction and exclusivity. An example of this would be The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. While still an integrated resort, it pushed the envelope with a simple yet innovative value proposition: experience Venice in the heart of Las Vegas by riding an authentic gondola along an indoor man-made canal, propelled by gondoliers garbed in traditional attire, amidst a setting that realistically replicates the romantic ambiance of the Italian city. Such was its success that just eight years later, the resort group opened another location in Macau.
As proven by the popularity of those resorts, the customer experience will always be among the top priorities of next generation integrated resorts in the country if they are to continue to succeed. With 5.4 million international tourist arrivals in 2016 and a projected 8.3 million in 2020, the market for integrated resorts in the Philippines will only grow bigger and bigger each year. Reinvention and keeping up with the ever-changing trends is the name of the game and will ultimately determine which of these “cruise ships on land” sink and which of these continue to stay afloat.
(The author is the Chief Operating Officer, Resorts World Manila) firstname.lastname@example.org.