After organising the eighth edition of the Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E Asia), the president of Reed Exhibitions China says the results were satisfactory but could have been better.
Stating that they wish they could have had more foreign buyers, in a phone interview with Business Daily, Nat Wong explains that it may be related to the lack of flight connections and consequent difficulties in reaching the territory. As a result, when thinking of the expansion of Reed Exhibitions in Macau, Mr. Wong says they’ve reached the conclusion that trade shows are not the best fit for the territory. Still, for an event such as G2E Asia, focused on gaming, the MSAR continues to be the natural choice
We have G2E Asia in Macau and we’re looking at the possibility of bringing more exhibitions to Macau.
We feel that the Macau positioning may not be the best for trade shows — perhaps, it’s better for consumer-based shows, conferences and meetings. We have many shows in the Reed Exhibitions calendar worldwide and we’re trying to see if we can bring some more matching shows that fit the genre of Macau better. Obviously, G2E Asia, as a gaming event, is a natural fit for Macau.
Trade shows, where we do B-to-B, we do have to bring in buyers and the sellers, business to business. So, most of the time, in a trade exhibition, one of the key ingredients will be the buyers sector. For example, in G2E the buyers are all in Macau, so the show is a very natural event to have in Macau. But if we want to bring, for example, a machine tool exhibition to Macau – not to say that it’s impossible – but, perhaps, the attraction is not so great for the buyers because they will have to travel all the way to Macau. Whereas a place like, let’s say Shanghai, which has a very large manufacturing base, will probably be better for some of these types of exhibition.
Similarly, I can give you an example of a stone exhibition in Xiamen — it’s an area rich in natural resources, so quite naturally a stone exhibition grew up in that area and is now a very important show for the world calendar. So, I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but the fit will probably be better for B-to-C shows — or consumer-based — shows and, maybe, entertainment performances as well as conferences and meetings.
I would say so.
If you look at other successful MICE cities, for example Melbourne, Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai, London, Paris, New York, all these places host a very large quantity of MICE events and the transportation and travel infrastructure is very important. I would agree that the need for a world-class airport and the need for connecting flights all over the world, the need for a range of hotels — from 5-star hotels to 4-stars, even budget hotels for some of the lower budget travellers — are all essential and important in successful MICE cities.
I guess things that are more suitable for B-to-C type events or maybe even B-to-B events in the hospitality business, like hotels and food supplies and services — perhaps leisure and entertainment would be another potential B-to-B success in Macau.
We’re still in the planning stage at the moment. We have a very busy schedule. We’re in China and we’re reaching out to quite a few cities that have some potential for the type of exhibitions we do. Reed Exhibitions is very focused on B-to-B events.
We have grown quite nicely over the years, so we definitely would like to continue to grow in tandem with the growth of the country. Although China has stepped down a little bit from the high GDP growth of the earlier years, 7.5 percent GDP growth is still very good in many countries, so there’s still growth in the economy in China. We need to continue to try and grow our shows and to also expand into related areas — a good example would be, when we look at a show like G2E, how we continue to expand the show and grow the show, so we may look into other areas of gaming, other areas of hospitality and perhaps even hotels and entertainment and leisure.
Some of the challenges we face in China are the various levels of quality deliverables in different cities. China has got this segmentation of first, second and third-tier cities, so the offering and the services are very different in these cities and obviously it would be much easier to organise an event in the first tier and experienced city, perhaps like Shanghai, Shenzhen or Beijing. Other challenges that we face — sometimes language is a problem.
We pay Chinese taxes, so we’re very local as well.
I would say that, as a foreign multinational company, wherever we go to we definitely have to ensure that while we bring in the global events and the global brands and a certain level and quality we ensure that we embrace the local culture and the local environment in such a way we are able to find a good mix and a good blend to have better longevity in a country like China.
We try to localise as much as possible in China. We have about 500 staff and we only have a handful of expatriates — not more than 10 — so with that we have a good quality turnout with the local staffing and local culture, local knowledge, local guanxi, local networking and, most of all, being able to communicate and reach out to the local visitor sectors here in China.
Yes. When I say engage the locals it’s not just in terms of hiring locals. We need the support of the local government; whether the central or the municipal government, we do require the support of the ministries as well as specialised agencies. We do work with the local authorities to look after the exhibition industry as well.
In addition to getting support, we also respect the local culture a great deal and in certain areas where we feel the local parties are more advanced than us in that particular industry, we engage in partnerships.
We have a tranche of events organised in China for quite a few years and very successfully. We do have a partnership with Sinopharm, and with them we’ve organised some 20 events in the pharmaceutical and medical industries.
New events in the pipeline that we’re trying to launch and bring into China are. for example. our fitness brand from Europe. We hope it can gain the same kind of success that our ALUMINIUM brand has gained in China.
We’re also looking at some new areas in China that are opening up in the fields of pollution, waste management or even specialised sectors. We’re looking at bringing in our brands as well as our speciality areas
We will obviously be looking at the upcoming countries, be they Japan, Korea, or even China, where gaming might be opening up. But obviously Macau generates about US$45 billion from this business; Singapore about US$6 billion and the Philippines about US$2 billion. So, with that, Macau is a clear leader in this field at the moment. Unless there are good opportunities in some of the new areas; and we’ll obviously will be looking at them to develop branches of G2E.
I don’t think so. Japan has a very large population base and if you look at how the Philippines and Singapore have grown – despite Macau’s presence in this business for a long time, and Macau itself has grown, as the other countries do open up – I believe they would probably be able to generate a lot of interest but on the other hand we do like to bring in the ‘whales’ to Macau casinos and hopefully the business can grow in that sector.
The countries themselves would probably be able to have a large enough local-based kick-start of business. At the end of the day, when Japan liberalises, there will be opportunities and potential for a show like us to be able to launch in Japan and, at the same time, work together with the Japanese market, to grow in tandem.
I don’t think there’ll be a lot of cannibalisation because I believe this industry is fairly well dissected. For example, the language in Japan would be something that might deter the Japanese from coming out to Singapore or Philippines, whereas they will be very comfortable at home. At the same time, if you go to Japan, it will probably give you a whole genre of mixed offerings in terms of gaming and leisure. So, I think the package could be different from city to city and the positioning as well as the offering to the potential attendees or visitors will be very different from city to city. I believe there will be a positioning in Japan that would be very unique.
We think the market has grown very well. We’re not unhappy with the growth, but we really wish we could do more. And probably gaming will find its equilibrium in the market, in terms of the size of the exhibition, so therefore we need to try to enhance the package for G2E, to perhaps add in adjacent segments and launches that will synergise with the gaming offering. Hopefully, we will experience steady growth over the years.
The strategy in Macau probably will have to change along with the environment at present. We feel Macau is a tourism and gaming attraction and we’ll focus on those key areas — obviously, we will try to build on other segments like hospitality, entertainment and leisure, and we will try to focus more on that. Whereas if we go to some other place, we will have to look at what that city has to offer that differs from Macau.
Although the Macau gaming market is huge, if you look around in Macau, the decision makers and the buyers of gaming services and gaming hardware and gaming technology are but a handful.
What we’ll probably face pretty soon in Macau is that it might reach a maximum or peak in terms of the number of casinos that Macau is willing to build. When that happens, the growth market for equipment coming into Macau will probably then become a sustenance market, whereby the machines and the software for the machines will change but the number of new casinos coming out will not be as fast. When that happens, we will obviously have to implement a few other things, like adjacent launches, segment launches, related synergy launches. We could also look at satellite meetings, whether we could host various related meeting with various related conferences or events related in conjunction with this field.
Yes. The number of visitors has grown 36 percent over last year and the space has also grown nicely. We do have a very healthy exhibition on our hands. The challenge now is probably to maintain this growth and to try and bring in new elements and exciting elements that continue to bring the investors and buyers to Macau.
If I really want to do better, I would have loved to bring in more foreign buyers. We did bring in a fairly decent delegation from Japan, in view of the coming vote on the deregulation of the market, but obviously we could do a lot more in the overseas visitor side. Once we are able to bring in sizeable groups from Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, then we’ll truly have a regional show.
I guess G2E is quite attractive and it’s the biggest show of its type in Asia — it’s attractive in its own right. But the availability of the connections may deter some people coming from faraway places. They probably would prefer to be closer to where they stay. Or, on the other hand, if they have a trip to make that year to a gaming show, if they have already gone to Macau, they may reserve that trip for a location in Europe or to Las Vegas, for G2E in Las Vegas.
We also have to ensure that we put our ears very close to our customers and if they do have some new opportunities that they want to seek out in a different place, we may have to listen to what they have to say, and we have to make a decision that is the best for the show. In the foreseeable future, it will definitely still be in Macau.
Reed reaching out