BY TOM MCLEAN
The unveiling of Angsana Laguna Phuket’s new event space, ACES, heralds a new chapter in Phuket’s MICE industry.
On the 28thof September, Angsana Laguna Phuket opened their enormous and exciting new function space, the Ansana Convention and Exhibition Space (ACES). This pioneering enterprise has the capacity to host incredibly large-scale events and is the ideal venue for big conferences, events and weddings.
Following ACES’ unveiling, Masalatalked to the Area General Manager for Angsana Laguna Phuket, Michal Zitek, about the sensational new prospects ACES brings to Phuket and the challenges that come with such a massive undertaking.
What was the primary objective behind ACES’ conception?
The Angsana Convention and Exhibition Space was conceived from the increasing demand for a versatile venue in Phuket, able to cater to sizeable events. Previously, there were no venues on the island that could cater for up to 1,400 people. Subsequently, Phuket was not able to bid on the global stage for meetings, incentives or exhibitions of a significant size. The grounds of Angsana Laguna Phuket were identified as the perfect location to create the 1,500 sqm convention space, which is now known as ACES.
What impact will ACES have upon the MICE, wedding and business landscape in Phuket?
ACES is expected to strongly change the events industry in Phuket. With its sheer capacity, seven-metre-high roof-line, and partnerships with some of the best staging and event companies in the region, ACES is setting the stage for MICE excellence in Phuket. ACES is not a typical hotel meeting room or ballroom; rather it is a ‘blank space’ that can be converted into any type of venue, limited only by imagination. The flexibility of the venue will allow creative event planners the opportunity to truly express the dreams of their clients and generate incredible, lasting memories. ACES has only been open for 10 days and we are already fielding inquiries for corporate meetings, exhibitions, destination weddings and mini concerts from across the globe.
Which target markets is ACES geared towards? With that in mind, what unique selling points (USPs) does ACES offer to these target markets?
ACES is geared to every potential market of the MICE Industry. The scale and flexibility of the venue makes it perfectly adaptable to any requirement. Some USPs include its central location – just 20 minutes from the International Airport – and it’s connectivity to the Laguna Integrated Resort precinct. Other USPs include its adjacency to the stunning Bang Tao sunset beach and Xana Beach Club, walking distance to the 18-hole championship Laguna Golf Course and additional break-out space, including the newly built 400 sqm over-water Lagoon Deck at Banyan Tree Resort. Plus, it has easy access to all of Phuket’s major attractions.
What are your marketing strategy plans for ACES?
Our marketing strategy is constantly evolving, guided by market and client reactions to ACES’ inception. Initial marketing has been a success, via our connection to industry partners and supporters, all the way through to online and offline advertising in regional and international source markets. The pre-opening media plan has already generated a great deal of interest. Now that ACES is alive, social media sharing of the different events, themes and décor is creating a buzz in itself.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing ACES in the future?
Honestly, I fear the biggest challenge for ACES is that we did not build it large enough. The MICE Industry, at this scale, is something new to Phuket. We have witnessed great success from venues in Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam, with repeat business based upon the scale of their events. Phuket already enjoys superb direct flight access to so many international destinations and Thailand continues to attract more flights, as interest in the destination grows. The response to ACES has already been tremendous, with some enquiries well exceeding the current capacity of the venue. We could even potentially look at ways to temporarily expand the facility, depending on the needs of our clients.
What is your outlook on Phuket’s future, as a destination for weddings and MICE events?
The outlook for MICE and Weddings in Phuket remains very positive. The island continually develops new attractions, services and infrastructure support, allowing new and repeat travellers to discover something fresh and unique. This makes Phuket particularly attractive to weddings, MICE bookers, attendees and delegates.
With ACES accommodating large-scale events, how will your catering division meet this increased demand for food and refreshments?
The launch of ACES has heightened our culinary focus. The additional investment in kitchen and service equipment, in support of such a large scale operation, is very exciting. The resort’s food and beverage teams have always operated to a high standard of excellence and now ACES allows our associates to deliver this on a larger scale, to a broader audience. We continue to seek the best menus, A/V services, and beverages, as per our client’s individual requirements.
Are the Thai government and Phuket Hotel Association (PHA) doing enough to promote Phuket as a destination for MICE, business events and weddings?
The Thai Government and respective associations, such as the TAT, TCEB, TICA, PHA, PTA, have always been great supporters. Now that ACES is open and its full potential visualised, we are starting to see even more support from these agencies. ACES allows them, and Angsana, to increase people’s awareness of Phuket as an incredible destination for MICE, weddings and leisure.