As the number of casino resorts developed in Asia grows, it is becoming increasingly important for gaming operators to offer personalised experiences for visitors, says Tom Wucherer (pictured), chief executive of YWS Design and Architecture.
He added that could be achieved with support from digital technology.
YWS – with offices in Las Vegas and Singapore – is an international design firm specialising in serving the hospitality, gaming, retail, dining and entertainment sectors. The firm’s portfolio includes projects for large-scale U.S.–based casino operators including Wynn Resorts Ltd and MGM International Resorts. In the Asia-Pacific region, the firm recently worked with Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd in the design for the new Crown Towers Perth.
“The [Asian] region is evolving quickly,” Mr Wucherer told GGRAsia. “It didn’t matter how well they [the resorts] were built [in the past] because demand outstripped the supply.”
“But Asia now as a whole is really getting to that tipping point where capacity is getting to a certain threshold, where you actually have to start paying closer attention to not only the aesthetics but the product and the mix you are offering,” he stated. “The margins for error get much tighter.”
The design of Asian casino resorts should offer “a dichotomy of inclusiveness and exclusivity”, where mega spaces inside the properties “should somehow get broken down into more intimate settings,” Mr Wucherer said. “The market is moving towards this type of experience as opposed to the gigantic 30,000-square-metre gambling hall, where it’s like taking a bucket and dumping 10,000 people into it and say ‘Go, have fun’.”
YWS’s chief executive also highlighted the importance of the integration of electronic devices in the design of resorts, as technology such as smartphones become an important part of everyone’s life.
Mr Wucherer noted however that Macau casino resorts were different in style from most of the gaming resorts found in other Asian jurisdictions.
“When you look at the resorts in the greater [Asian] region, it’s much more about authentic experiences, relaxation… and immersion in the local environment but Macau is something entirely different,” said Mr Wucherer. “Macau will continue to put much bigger projects in place with much bigger environments but I think the challenge here is to diversify [the offerings].”
In a research report published earlier this year, brokerage CLSA Ltd predicted that China, one of the largest outbound tourism markets in the world, would account for 200 million outbound travellers per year by 2020.
Mr Wucherer said: “Chinese consumers are looking for [experiences with] more [greater] cultural relevance to the places that they are visiting. It doesn’t matter whether they are going to Australia, Japan, Europe or the [United] States, the experience is becoming much more important than the simple act of getting the [leisure] product.”
India is another outbound tourism market with great potential as the size of its population also exceeds the one billion mark, he noted.
Mr Wucherer added that the ability accurately to forecast consumer trends was very important when designing a new casino resort.
“These projects take three to five years to be developed. You are not looking at trends for today [but] the trends for three to five years from now, or more importantly, five to eight years from now,” he said. “I’d rather arrive to a market slightly early than slightly late.”
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”We expect it [the first phase of casino resort Hoiana in Vietnam] to open in October, and by then basically 90 percent of the first-phase content will be launched – such as the golf course, and hotels”
Andrew Lo Kai Bong
Executive director of project investor Suncity Group