ES. Please tell us about the iconic MBS, its major highlights and its distinctive offerings
Ong Wee Min. Marina Bay Sands is an iconic destination renowned for our diverse range of unique experiences, all under one roof. The integrated resort offers a luxurious hotel, state-of-the-art convention and exhibition facilities, world-class entertainment, captivating cultural experiences, and unparalleled shopping and dining options. For business travelers, Marina Bay Sands boasts exceptional offerings through collaborations with like-minded partners to transform the Marina Bay area into Asia’s premier leisure, business, and entertainment hub.
We have recently unveiled our Bay Precinct Strategy, a forward-thinking blueprint that positions us as a driving force for the entire Marina Bay area. Under this strategy, we bring together partners around Marina Bay to collectively offer over 8,000 rooms, more than 1,500 retail and dining experiences as well as 10 attractions, centered around our world-class meetings venue. This new way of working moves away from the old norm of positioning our destination as just a singular venue. By tapping into the collective strengths and resources of our partners, Marina Bay Sands will be able to provide event organisers with an extensive network of services and offerings, enhancing the value proposition for hosting events at the integrated resort and showcasing what Singapore has to offer for MICE events. In this age of mass customisation, the Bay Precinct Strategy opens up the playing field for event organisers, giving them limitless opportunities to conceptualise
and curate interest-based trails tailored to their attendees’ preferences and itineraries. In addition, Marina Bay Sands has also reinvented the visitor experience with a new Festivalisation strategy. This comprises thematic programming built around tentpole events at Sands Expo & Convention Centre and around Singapore. Spanning arts, culture, food, wine, music, wellness, and fashion, these exciting festivals inspire and deepen engagement with visitors, offering them the freedom to curate their own experiences and a compelling reason to return.
ES. How do you leverage sustainability at your venue?
Ong Wee Min. Marina Bay Sands is a hospitality destination that places sustainability at the core of our offerings. Sustainability is comprehensively and seamlessly integrated throughout every step of our business to ensure environmentally-responsible practices.
The integrated resort focuses its sustainability efforts on four key areas:
- Green buildings;
- Environmentally responsible operations, across 29 goals in Energy, Waste, Water, Plastic & Packaging, Sustainable Sourcing, and Biodiversity;
- Green meetings;
- Stakeholder engagement.
Taking an evidence-based, impact-first approach, MBS has significantly reduced our overall carbon footprint by over 50% since 2012, aligning with Singapore’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2020, Sands Expo and Convention Centre became the first carbon neutral MICE venue in Singapore. Marina Bay Sands’ investment in Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and carbon offsets covers 100 per cent of the carbon emissions generated from the meeting venue’s gas and electricity consumption. As the only tripleplatinum certified sustainable MICE venue, Marina Bay Sands works closely with clients, integrating sustainability into event design and striving to achieve zero-waste events.
Initiatives include digitalising collaterals to reduce waste, allowing delegates to download soft copies through a unique QR code, and implementing ala-minute food stations to minimise food waste. From food waste management to achieving a zero-waste event, our team works closely with our clients and event organisers in the planning phase to ensure sustainability goals will be met. To help strengthen Singapore’s food security, we have an on-property MICE herb garden at Level 4 of Sands Expo and Convention Centre that provides 30 herbs used in signature dishes and drinks prepared by our banquet team.
ES. How do you utilise technology at your venue?
Ong Wee Min. Marina Bay Sands leverages technology to revolutionise the MICE sector, continuing to provide cuttingedge solutions for events and immersive experiences during and post-COVID. In August 2020, Sands Expo & Convention Centre showcased our agility and commitment to innovation by creating the industry’s first Hybrid Broadcast Studio (HBS) in just seven days. This achievement demonstrated our readiness to meet the growing demand for hybrid events during COVID. The implementation of broadcast-quality livestreaming technologies bridged the gap between in-person and virtual attendees, offering remote viewers high-quality and seamless access to engaging content from anywhere in the world.
innovative technologies like holographic presence, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Extended Reality (XR) capabilities. These advanced tools elevated the level of immersion and interactivity, transforming traditional events into captivating and memorable experiences. In October 2021, Marina Bay Sands introduced the Virtual Meeting Place (VMP), a fully customisable platform replicating reallife event spaces in virtual venues. This technology empowered organisers to deliver engaging experiences and reach wider audiences.
During the pandemic, Marina Bay Sands also served as a testbed for new meeting concepts and digital solutions, including temperature-checking kiosks, contactless registration via QR codes, and wearable dongles for tracking interactions. These not only enhanced safety but also enriched the event experience for organisers and delegates. Post-pandemic, offerings such as the VMP have been refreshed, allowing organisers to create customised mobile applications for easy access to event information and delegates’ contact details, as part of our omnichannel event strategy.
ES. What are some of the key MICE events that have been successfully hosted at your venue?
Ong Wee Min. Sands Expo has successfully hosted diverse key MICE events, including high-profile events like Singapore International Water Week, TFWA, Token2049, ITB Asia, and International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM). The integrated resort has also hosted new-to-Singapore events and major international rotating shows, such as ARTSG, Vinexpo Asia, INTA, and MDRT Global Conference in 2023. The ability to continue attracting and hosting these high-profile events at Sands Expo is a strong endorsement from our event organisers and delegates.
ES. How do you view the resurgence of travel after Covid?
Ong Wee Min. International visitors are now coming back in large numbers, and they are staying longer and spending more as they seek out more premium services. These visitors are keen to explore more of what Singapore has to offer. For Marina Bay Sands, we have also stepped up with refreshed offerings and a greater focus on experiences centered around wellness, personalisation, and engagement. To cater to guests prioritizing wellness, we introduced on-demand services, such as a live jogging app suggesting scenic routes around Marina Bay, virtual gym, and yoga accessible via a digital platform from the comfort of guests’ rooms. For eco-travellers, we have strengthened eco-friendly solutions like using recycled wooden blocks from disposable chopsticks for guests to request a change of bed linen. These initiatives align with our sustainability efforts, aiming to reduce our environmental impact without compromising guest experiences. We adapt to evolving traveller preferences by offering flexible booking policies, curated experiences, and a focus on wellness and sustainability. The integration of technology, such as mobile apps and digital concierge services aim to provide our guests a seamless and personalised guest experience. Beyond these, we have also observed visitors becoming more sophisticated and inclined towards bespoke experiences. Through the Bay Precinct strategy, we collaborate with our hotel, attractions, retail and dining partners across Marina Bay to offer curated bundled experiences with limitless possibilities.
ES. What is your observation on the Indian market and business coming from Indian travellers?
Ong Wee Min. Since our inception, Asian countries have been a pivotal demographic for us. According to the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore received over 650,000 travellers from India in 2022, making it the second-largest source market after Indonesia. Notably, India also contributed the largest post-pandemic incentive groups in 2022 At Marina Bay Sands, India continues to be a strong source market for MICE, and we have been seeing the healthy return of Indian MICE groups and events. These events are typically booked three to four months ahead. We maintain a positive outlook and eagerly anticipate extending a warm welcome to more Indian travelers at Marina Bay Sands.
ES. What message would you like to share with the industry at large?
Ong Wee Min. We are in the midst of a multi-year transformation which will see elevated suite and service offerings. To date, over 1,000 hotel rooms in Towers 1 and 2 have been completed as part of the renovation. The transformation in Towers 1 and 2 is expected to be completed by the end of 2023, with the renewal continuing into Tower 3, the Hotel Lobby, and Sands SkyPark. The suite of world-class experiences will also encompass a revamped Executive Club lounge, new premium fine dining options, and health and wellness offerings, elevating the landmark to a fresh benchmark in Asian hospitality. With these ambitious plans, the integrated resort looks forward to offering guests unrivaled and unforgettable experiences for years to come.