Singapore’s Strategic Intent of Product Differentiation
Singapore, which practices sustainability like a habit, is moving on with a new game plan which seems to follow M.E.Porter’s business strategy for competitive advantage. Inducing wellness and sustainability with ease of access, international visitors can now leave their green footprints while taking back unforgettable memories. Creating experiences that one can only have in Singapore is the focus, Keith Tan, the Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board tells The Asian Footprints.
AFP Exclusive June Mukherjee, New Delhi, June 1, 2022
After over two years of the pandemic, how is Singapore planning to stand apart from its competitors?
I would say we think of a few strategies, first is the differentiation. It is very important for Singapore to create new products and experiences that differentiate ourselves from our competitors in terms of attractions and experiences. We want to make sure that the attractions that you get here in Singapore, you get nowhere else. For example, for the first time in Asia, we have a Museum of Ice Cream! It is not only for attractions and experiences but our hotels and resorts are also curating unique experiences for the visitors. We want to make sure that hotels are not just generic, that you can get anywhere in the world. During the pandemic, we opened a hotel called The Clan Hotel by the Far East Hospitality group, which is located in the middle of China Town and was once a very was a notorious or infamous area for housing for many old Chinese clan associations. But what the hotel is trying to do is to maintain the heritage of the area and offer a lot more experiences that are unique to the Chinatown area. We know that till China opens its borders, not many tourists are expected in that area, but they will come in the future.
Secondly, at the same time, we are very particular to maintain a very high standard of all F&B retails in Singapore to maintain the health and safety of our visitors. Even before that, our precaution starts from the airport, as you know that Singapore Airlines and Changi International Airport always maintain a very high standard of flying and airport experience for all the incoming and outgoing passengers. Hence, all travellers are assured that when you come to Singapore, the quality of your journey is excellent.
The third and very important factor is the use of technology and how we use it. How do we make the process of coming to Singapore seamless and easy? We make it easier for you to calculate your tax refund and get the reimbursement. For the responsible traveller, we help you calculate your carbon footprint when you're in Singapore. You buy a single ticket that accesses many different attractions for a large group or for an individual traveller.
Therefore, we want to leverage technology to make the process of coming to Singapore and spending time in Singapore very pleasurable, full of fun and meaningful for the visitors.
How do you plan to break the myth that Singapore is beyond theme parks for families with kids and can be exciting for the millennials?
Yes, I would say that we want to send across a new message, especially to the millennials that we have a lot of experiences that are hands-on and immersive. For example, millennials don't just want to go to a museum and look at something on the wall, right? The question is can they participate in a painting workshop rather than looking at the painting, they want to go to Hawker Centre and not just eat, but can they go for a cooking class along with the experience of eating chicken rice or chilli crab? The answer is yes! We are curating more immersive experiences that would be quite attractive to the millennials.
This is what Singapore is promoting through SingapoReimagine or Passion Made Possible campaigns for the last few years? But like the western millennials, are you getting the same enthusiasm from the Asian youths in exploring the newer experiences?
My sense says yes, especially from South Asia, I think there is a lot of enthusiasm among the millennials to explore in similar ways to the westerners or their Singaporean counterparts. For example, the Indian youth are well-travelled, well-educated, very digitally enabled and have good spending capacity and want to enjoy high-quality experiences in life. So, it's important for a destination like Singapore to make sure that we have a wide range of these experiences that are easily accessible to them.
Recently we see Singapore is leaning toward a lot of wellness promotions? How do you make it different?
Everyone wants a clean, green, relaxing holiday. Wellness is now a very important priority for us. We want to position Singapore as an urban wellness hub. A busy city, yet, with a wide range of experiences and offerings that support the wellness of our travellers. To that end, we have inaugurated our first Wellness Festival in Singapore which showcases the whole range of products. It's not just massage and spas but we go beyond that. Many other masterclasses and experiences are going to support the wellness of our visitors, whether you are a busy business executive, a corporate traveller who is always jet-lagged or a family with small children. We are planning to offer a wide range of easily accessible wellness opportunities for everyone and they don't need to drive three hours up to the mountains to access these opportunities.
Being one of the earliest smart cities in the world, Singapore always gives top priority to sustainable development. Every tourism establishment or service provider follows the sustainability practices like military discipline, but how do you make these sustainability practices inclusive with the foreign visitors?
This is a very good question and I thank you for that. Well, we think sustainability is not an option. So, it is important for us to work as a destination, not just at the country level, but even at the industry level. Hotels, MICE organisers, leisure tour operators, and cruise lines make sure that they're doing everything to support that larger goal of sustainability. And that includes making some hard decisions that also affect their businesses. Removing single-use plastics, switching the different sources of fuel for their cruise ships, installing solar panels in hotels, and sourcing food locally rather than from around the world, all entail hard choices for our business partners, but we want to help them understand it is important for them to do it. We make them understand that they will be punished by the travellers in the future if they are not seen as sustainable. It is important for us to move now, move early.
You have to give the option to the traveller to become responsible and as an industry, it is first our duty to create all the sustainable options and second to educate the visitor about the availability of sustainable choices. If the choices are given, travellers tend to become responsible or at least there is a starting for somewhere. In that way, we give the assurance to any traveller who comes to Singapore that they are doing the right thing when they come to Singapore, contributing their bit to the earth as well as having great experiences. They are staying in great hotels, but their carbon footprint is small. We use social media and other mediums round the year to promote our sustainability practices and encourage every visitor to become a responsible traveller.