Scheduled to open gradually by the end of this year, Phase 3 of Galaxy Macau will face some challenges concerning available human resources and possible travel restrictions but management is confident the property will not just have enough market available but will help revitalise the local MICE sector, the Galaxy Entertainment Group Senior Vice President for MICE Operations and Sales, Joey Pather, stated today (Wednesday).
The Galaxy International Convention Center (GICC) included in Phase 3 – which has already opened for event quotations – will include 500,000 square feet 16,000-seat multi-purpose Galaxy Arena, and will be directly connected to the future Hyatt Hotel Corporation 700 rooms Andaz Hotel.
“We didn’t want this to just be a big box, we wanted it to look iconic and stand out. […] Industry-wise people now also have large expectations for technology and immersiveness. We wanted to build a venue capable of delivering experiences so we have a lot of technology deployed in the building,” Pather stated in a talk held by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce.
According to the centre’s brochure, the GICC will include 10,000 square meters of pillar-less space that can accommodate up to 7,000 delegates, a banquet event area that can hold corporate banquets up to 2,400, a grand ballroom for 1,000 guests, and a 650-seat auditorium.
The project is scheduled to open in stages in the second half of this year depending on market response but with Pather admitting Galaxy is aiming more for “the later part” of the second half.
“We have not yet decided which sector will open first. We are going through our licensing and making sure the building is tested and ready. Then we will see what events we take on,” he added.
Pather noted that most inquire for possible venue bookings have come from associations and corporate groups, mainly from Mainland China.
According to the MICE Operations Senior Vice President, the main concept was to achieve the feel of a 5-star hotel with the functionality and flexibility of a convention centre.
The Galaxy Arena, for example, is set to be used for the event ranging from boxing matches, e-sports to Cantopop concerts
The expansion project of Galaxy Macau also includes approximately 4,000 hotel rooms and villas, including family and premium high-end rooms, plus F&B, retail and casinos.
According to Pather, some 2,000 people are expected to work in the property, including 200 people in the convention centre, some 500 to 600 people in the hotels, plus security, cleaning and floor staff.
“Here the challenge is HR and the accessibility of labour […] quality of talent and the retention of talent. The return of the market in terms of skilled people will also be a challenge, together with border openings, the return of visitors and people’s perceptions of travel,” Pather.
“MICE models use a lot of temporary labour, we have a lot of gaming concessionaires and the pool is not as big as other countries […] We have partnered with local authorities and universities in internship programmes to increase the available pool of local talent.
As the pandemic progressive GEG management spent months analysing economic forecasts and drafting scenarios over possible V-shaped economic recovery, with Pather believing the property could be another catalyst for local recovery after a considerable downturn in the number of MICE events.
A total of 215 MICE events were held in the first three quarters of 2020, less 860 than in the same period of last year as the pandemic limited travel and forced events to either go completely digital or to incorporate social distancing limitations and digital elements.
A reduction in public government expenses has also impacted the local heavily subsidised event sector throughout 2020.
Under the background of the pandemic economic reality, Phase 3 and Phase 4 represent a considerable investment for the gaming concessionaire, ranging from HK$45 billion to HK$50 billion, with GEG having announced this week it already signed a HK$13.5 billion contract with China State Construction International Holdings Ltd for the construction of Phase 4.
The group is also carrying out a HK$1.5 billion revamp on-going for Galaxy Hotel, Hotel Okura Macau, Banyan Tree Macau, the next-door Broadway Macau and the StarWorld Hotel on the Macau peninsula.
Still, Pather believed the scalability and flexibility of the property venues will allow it to adapt to the demand and the most suitable business model at the time of opening.
With several properties expected to compete for a lower number of events, the GEG representative did not see the new property as increasing the “cannibalisation” of the local MICE sector.
“I like to rather see it as stimulation. From the client’s perspective the more offers in the market, the more options there are. All our clients are accustomed to what a good and quality infrastructure is. It all helps the competitiveness of the game. I don’t think it will bring down prices but it will raise the game,” he noted.
“I think there is something for everyone […] If you don’t up your game you all get swallowed up”