IAG FEBRUARY 2016 - page 10

Cover Story
Some properties and operators are more ready than others
for middle class customers. Mr Wieners mentions Sands China’s
VenetianMacaoandStudioCityasmiddlemarket friendlyproperties,
and he believes Sands’ Parisian will join that group. “Through a
combination of room inventory, available space to build further
amenities, and theircommitments topromotenon-gamingofferings,
I feel these resortswill resonatewith thenewmiddleclassMacauwill
need tobegin attracting,” he says.
MrWong sees all of theoperators tilting toward themiddle class
to some degree, noting that Wynn andMGM, long focused on the
high end and lacking Cotai properties, have been increasing their
massmarket tables and slots. GalaxyMacau’s first phase retail mix
includedshops that targetedmiddleclassconsumers, includingdrug
chainMannings and watch shop City Chain plus a range of casual
dining along with more upmarket offerings. Galaxy’s Broadway
Macau, opened inMay along with the resort’s second phase, aims
squarelyat themiddlemarket.EvenbeforeStudioCity,MelcoCrown’s
City of Dreams had aHard RockHotel and later introduced SOHO,
adining and entertainment area catering to themiddlemarket. Later
this year, SJMHoldings will reopen its redeveloped Jai Alai casino
near the Outer Harbor Ferry Terminal with a 130 room hotel and
retail, expected to targetmiddle class customers.
“I think there is an understanding amongst the major players that
middle class consumerswant somethingdifferent but it’s difficult to
transition quickly,” Mr Cavender says. “So, the resorts are going in
the right directionbut itmay take time for themarket todevelop and
formiddleclassconsumers tocome inenoughnumbers tooffset any
losses to revenue fromVIPgamblers and junkets.”
Simply having facilities to serve themiddlemarket isn’t enough,
MrWieners suggests. “From amarketing perspective, organizations
like Sands are well oiledmachines that understand their customers
and where they sit,” the marketing executive says. “Regular road
showsand familiarization trips toChineseagentsandend-consumers
have allowedVenetianMacao to remain ahouseholdname for those
traveling to Macau. I see this happening with Parisian upon its
openingandpartlydue to its iconicEiffel Tower structure. StudioCity
hasmuch to gain from the same exposure in key inboundmarkets,
and a sexy, exciting product that will visually stimulate but must be
combinedwith the right sales pitch.”
It’s not amatter of the sales pitch, but what Macau has to sell.
“Macau requires a major reengineering of products and services,”
Mr Wieners says. “The majority of properties today have been
planned and fitted out with a premiummarket inmind. In order to
see success, the destination as a whole must work to reinvent the
perceived serviceofferings available to visitors.”
Citing a new generation of Chinese consumer that have traveled
overseas, or see it as a genuine alternative to Macau, Mr Wieners
says, “While we need to remain culturally relevant in our offerings,
the lack of diverse offerings across entertainment, food, beverage
and amusements are keeping theMacaubrandoff the travel lists for
many in the Chinese middle class who perceive Macau as ‘boring’
or ‘just a gaming destination’ or ‘not a place for quality family
entertainment.’ I believe the incoming Cotai resorts are aware of
this and are in the process of shiftingwhat they canwith regards to
“The challengehere is stillmovingbeyond the imageofhard core
gamblingas this isn’tnecessarilywhatyoungermiddle class consumers
are looking for.Macauhasabsolutelyaddedmoreattractions fornon-
gamblersor casual gamblers toenjoy, but there is still room togo.”
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