INSIDE ASIAN GAMING JULY 2018 20 COVER STORY consecutive year above 6%. The economy grew a reported 6.8% in this year’s first quarter. That rising tide has boosted the gaming industry, especially Manila’s four IRs. At the start of this year, Morgan Stanley analysts Alex Poon and Praveen Choudhary estimated GGR at Manila IRs rose 27% in 2017 and forecast 32% growth for 2018. RWM has trailed the trend since the attack. For the four quarters reported since the incident, from 2Q17, GGR fell 30% – gaming capacity has been reduced by approximately 70 tables and 400 machines – and EBITDA dropped 55%. The gap between pre- and post-attack numbers has narrowed in each of the past two quarters, though, and daily visitation is off less than 10%. Brand consultant and Senior Partner at Prophet, Jay Milliken, believes RWM can bounce back completely. “What happened at Resorts World Manila was beyond their control,” he says. “As long as there’s no obvious negligence on the part of the company, it’s a relatively quick rebound.” GRAND OPENING To support recovery, RWM accelerated the launch of its Phase 3 Grand Wing, scheduled for completion by year end. The rollout began in May with new gaming space adding 35 tables and 414 machines, capacity to double in early August and surpass what was on the gaming floor before the attack. The wing includes new retail space and 949 hotel rooms under the Sheraton, Hilton and Okura brands. The 191 room Okura, originated in Japan and new to the Travellers road map Muhammad Cohen: Once the emergency was over, what did the company do to restore the confidence of employees and customers that it was safe to return to Resorts World Manila? Stephen Reilly: We engaged one of the top private security consultants in the world to undertake a full review of our safety and security protocols. We took their recommendations and put them in place immediately to enhance further the security of the resort’s operations. MC: What were the main challenges during the weeks when the casino was shut down? SR: The financial impact was, of course, one of the biggest challenges. We were committed to making sure our employees received their salaries even though we suspended our operation. Without income coming in during those weeks, you can understand how it would affect our bottom line. Another challenge was keeping employee morale up. It was quite easy to forget during those days that we were, in fact, also victims in the incident. We had to make sure that the emotional well-being of our RWM family – on a group and individual level – would be taken care of during a potentially traumatic time. We also had to reach out to our customers and members to assure them that this was indeed a temporary setback – that things would not only be back to normal, but be better eventually. MC: What steps has Resorts World Manila taken to bring back business in terms of new facilities? SR: We’ve already had expansion plans in the pipeline, specifically the opening of the Grand Wing and the entry of new international hotel brands. We did accelerate the opening of the casino floor in the Grand Wing to make up for the lost second-floor gaming space. Travellers International Hotel Group COO Stephen Reilly shares his view of Resorts World Manila’s recovery and the way forward with Inside Asian Gaming Editor-at-Large Muhammad Cohen. “A week or two after the RWM incident, there were less people in our mass gaming floor. But after two weeks, it was back to normal.” – Bloomberry Resorts CFO and Treasurer Estella Tuason-Occeña.