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Exclusive Interview: Marketing Asia - Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
Thursday, 16th January 2014
Source : ITB Berlin News

We spoke to John Mims, SVP WW sales and resort marketing Asia for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation (who run the Marina Bay Sands) about this and other topics of interest that were put in the spotlight at ITB Asia. 

Hot after the news that next year's ITB Asia trade show will return to the Marina Bay Sands complex in preference to the Suntec Centre, talk has been rife among MICE specialists in Asia as to the reasons behind the decision.

Actually as a bit of history, the Marina Bay Sands complex, with 2500 guest rooms, opened in Singapore as recently as 2010. Sands corp. is an integrated resort company, meaning we have hotel rooms, meeting spaces, a convention centre and theatres. We have a museum here in Singapore plus attractions like celebrity chefs and a retail mall with over 250 shops...

It's the same concept as in Macau and Las Vegas. Today, the biggest news is the fact that ITB the show will move to Marina Bay Sands next year with a four-year contract and we’re very excited about that.

John Mims (centre) with Richard Barnes (left) and Jean-François Pieri (right) from ITB Berlin News
4Hoteliers Image Library
Why did that happen? What was the turning point?
 We have been working with ITB over the years to get them to see the venue and understand it better, and last year they ran ITB Asia in Marina Bay Sands because of the temporary closure of Suntec. So it was a chance for them to experience it and thus better come to grips with the space and facilities we had. They realised it was a great opportunity for them and others to be able to have a one-stop show with one point of coordination for rooms, space and meetings and so on… and they were very appreciative of our operations.   

You are also marketing the other main resorts in Asia as well. Is there anything we should be talking about? Any new resort openings? 
In Macau, where we are the largest operator, with almost 10,000 rooms plus a couple of million square feet of meeting space, we operate six different brands. In Macao, we own the Venetian, we have the Sands, which was our first project beyond the Venetian, but last year we opened the Holiday Inn, The Conrad and the Sheraton, which we all own. Starwood manages the Sheraton and we also have a Four Seasons, which is managed by Four Seasons.

We believe these are all superior products -- the largest Sheraton, the largest Holiday Inn, and the largest Conrad in the world. What it does for our customers is to give them a variety to choose from with four-star and five-star properties in different categories, and it gives us a lot of capability to cater for our guests. Recently, we announced the upcoming opening of The Parisien in 2017. It's an Eiffel Tower themed resort, which is creating a lot of buzz and a lot of our colleagues are going to want to come and see that.
Is that similar to the one in Vegas or not? 
No, it’s going to be very different. What you'll see is the Asian influence and the Sands influence in the property.
Your roots are in Vegas with massive results there, and that gave you a good footing to get first into Macau and then places like Singapore. How important is that in terms of differentiating your organisation from anyone else? 
I think you have to look back to our history… our company was founded by Sheldon Gary Adelson. Mr Adelson was the founder of Comdex, the consumer Electronics tradeshow. So when we think about that, we're not just a hotel company trying to make hotels… we were founded by a guy who created a trade show.

He's a “trade show guy” and he understands the needs of the exhibitors in the trade show and - the needs of the customers. So we have an integrated resort concept led by meeting facilities designed by a guy who is clearly an expert in the sector. That's what separates us from a lot of our competitors.
How is the MICE sector going in Asia? 

It’s going very strongly in Singapore. We opened in 2010, last year we hosted 51 tradeshows and this year we will have 70, so when you think about that, it’s a huge increase, having a major influence on tourism into the city. 

What do you see as being the key attractions in Singapore? 
For a start, the Marina Bay Sands is a phenomenal building, but in addition to that, we have Gardens by the Bay, which is a government-run project just next to the hotel and Singapore as a destination is really blossoming.  When you think about the compact size of Singapore, and all of the attractions that we have here, along with the convenience of Changi airport, it has to be said that the Singapore tourism bureau and the government have done a phenomenal job of listening to the customers to make this an attractive destination.
How important is ITB Asia as a show in this region? 

ITB Asia is a mix of leisure as well as MICE. I think it's the most important show in the region and this is an opportunity for destinations from all over the world. Being represented here, they bring in both trade experts and destination marketing organisations from all over the world. For outbound and inbound, it's a fantastic marketplace.

4Hoteliers Image LibraryNaturally, the 4Hoteliers teams will be covering the world’s largest travel show again in 2014 and the dedicated ITB Berlin news site's popularity and traffic is highly expected to increase once again as it has been increasing YOY.

It will be our 6th consecutive year and through our high traffic ITB news site - - we are offering:

  • targeted advertising packages with exclusive locations;
  • full exposure, no rotations and
  • superb brand awareness

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