Trump-Kim summit a priceless branding opportunity for Singapore, Sentosa and hotels involved, say industry experts

Trump-Kim summit a priceless branding opportunity for Singapore, Sentosa and hotels involved, say industry experts

The images of Singapore – and Sentosa – splashed across the front pages of newspapers and television broadcasts worldwide will not only benefit Singapore’s tourism industry.

view of sentosa
File photo of Sentosa. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: With the world watching the upcoming Trump-Kim summit intently, the spotlight has also been turned on Singapore – and its role as host. And according to marketing and hospitality experts Channel NewsAsia spoke to, the summit is a priceless opportunity for Singapore to showcase itself to the world.

Preparations are well underway for Tuesday’s summit, which will be held at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island, and in the lead-up, images of Singapore have been splashed across the front pages of newspapers and television broadcasts around the world.

This, said founder of marketing consultancy Kepios Simon Kemp, can help raise valuable awareness about what the country can offer.

“When I go travelling around the world, I find that a lot of people know that we exist, but they have no idea where we are on the map, and have no idea that we’re not part of China,” said Mr Kemp. “They have no idea how clean it is, how vibrant the city is...and once they do…I don’t think anything more than simple awareness is needed for people to add Singapore to their list of destinations.”

“The Formula 1 race has done a wonderful job in projecting Singapore’s landscape, image, and beautiful skyline on a global scale, and the upcoming summit will do the same,” added Lars Voedisch, managing director of PRecious Communications. “This is something that a lot of countries would pay a lot of money for.”

And when the throng of international media land in Singapore, they will experience, according to managing director of public relations firm Asia PR Werkz Cho Pei Lin, what she terms the “Singapore DNA”.

“From welcoming them at Changi Airport, to our garden city, connected infrastructure and transport network, a SMART Nation, clean and efficient, and the ability to put together the summit at short notice whilst ensuring safety and security for the two delegations and Singaporeans,” she said. “It is an opportunity like never before to showcase Singapore to the world.”

“As a Singaporean, I’m very proud that we are trusted by the United States and DPRK to put this together on such short notice,” she added.

BENEFITS TO SINGAPORE GO BEYOND TOURISM DOLLAR

Citing high-level meetings Singapore has hosted in the past, such as the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, Mr Voedisch added that the summit will reinforce Singapore’s reputation for being a go-to destination for such meetings.

This, he said, could also have benefits in attracting more foreign companies to set up shop in Singapore.

“If everything goes as planned, it will re-emphasise the image that Singapore is one of the safest places on Earth,” he said. “Which company, CEO or family wouldn’t want that for their families and staff?”

“The fact that both the President of the US and the North Korean leaders have chosen Singapore also shows that it’s easily accessible,” he added. “If you think about why Singapore attracts so many global and regional HQs, it’s because the CEOs and decision-makers feel that it’s not only a good place for them, but safe and enjoyable for their families.”

“So it adds to the image that Singapore can not just attract tourists, but also the best of the international workforce.”

Mr Kemp noted that the summit would also position Singapore as having a “relatively inclusive” culture and society. “It’s really interesting that two countries that are, perhaps, at complete opposite ends of the spectrum around the world have chosen Singapore as the place where they both feel comfortable,” he said.

“I think that says a lot about what Singapore means to political leaders around the world.”

Mr Voedisch added that from a political standpoint, Singapore’s reputation as a “neutral and trustworthy” player on the international stage will also be enhanced. “Singapore can also play up the image of a positive peacemaker,” he said. “That’s an added value that can come out of that.”

BENEFITS EXTEND TO SENTOSA, HOTELS AS WELL

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) noted that as with all high-profile visits, the Trump-Kim summit “places Singapore on the map for international audiences”, and “showcases Singapore as an ideal destination, especially for businesses and meetings.”

And experts pointed out that this will benefit Sentosa in particular, which has largely been perceived and marketed largely as a tourist and leisure destination.

Capella sentosa 5
The Capella hotel on Sentosa island resorts in Singapore is pictured on Jun 6, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

“Sentosa is a tropical island off a tropical island,” said Mr Voedisch. “So in terms of the images, you have the greenery, landscape, and maritime shots that add to the flavour of what it’s known for.”

“But it’s mainly known for being an entertainment and holiday destination for families, so the summit will help Sentosa to position itself as a great place to hold meetings and events.”

“From a security perspective, you can see why Sentosa is attractive for such meetings,” added Mr Kemp. “It’s much easier to manage a small place, and you could very easily cordon off the whole island.

“Besides that, the idea that there’s a very serious political conversation going to take place there also gives Sentosa the opportunity to show off a whole new element to its image.”

And while hotels involved in the summit – whether host hotel Capella, or the hotels the foreign delegations will be staying at – will undoubtedly have their work cut out for them, hospitality experts noted that they will experience “priceless benefits”.

“If you are good enough for the President of the United States, then you’re good enough for anyone,” said Kevin Wee, a senior lecturer in hospitality and tourism management at Nanyang Polytechnic.

“Let’s say security-conscious billionaires want to book entire floors for their entourage,” he explained. “They might say that if Capella or Shangri-La have met the President’s needs, they should be able to meet your needs.”

“This sort of branding is priceless, which is probably why they’re happy to go through all the work.”

“Imagine the President is making a speech at the podium, and it has your hotel name and logo, and the façade of your hotel is on all the news broadcasts around the world,” added Revi Nair, a senior lecturer in hospitality and tourism management from Temasek Polytechnic.

“The value of that kind of publicity can’t be measured.”

The opportunity of hosting such an event also gives hotels the chance to put their culinary and banqueting skills on full display, added Mr Nair.

“From choosing the local produce on the menu, to decorating the tables with subtle hints like an orchid here, or a Merlion there...hotels would not pass up the chance to showcase Singapore and their hotel.”

Watch our comprehensive coverage of the Trump-Kim summit live on YouTube from 7am on Tuesday (Jun 12). Subscribe to our channel here.

You can also watch the livestream, and read updates at www.channelnewsasia.com/trumpkimsummit.

Source: CNA/lc

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