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MACAU BUSINESS by Paulo A. Azevedo No limits T Photos: Luís Almoster

Management at Altira and City of Dreams has been overhauled, and Ted Chan Yin Tat will play an instrumental role as Melco Crown Entertainment’s new co-chief operating officer for gaming. In this exclusive interview with Macau Business – just days before the public announcement that Greg Hawkins was leaving – the president of Altira is bullish on Macau, saying business is stronger than ever

hree years after the opening of Melco Crown’s first property, and almost one and a half years after its name was changed from Crown to Altira, what exactly have been the major achievements and the biggest challenges?

Ted Chan:Well, let’s talk about achievements. This is actually a very small boutique-hotel, not like other competitors that opened with a couple of thousand rooms, resort bases and all sorts of entertainment. The challenges here were the positioning of this property and also how could we brand the [new] name, which is so important to customers. Did we want to go back to three years ago, when

this was a kind of all-you-can-come-and-enjoy type of property, we had this big mass gaming area and little VIP gaming, or did we want to realistically do a positioning of the property and be more focused on the tier of customers that we would like to entertain? So we made a decision one and a half years ago.

Let’s position this property to be high-end VIP, even if the term can sometimes be quite confusing. We have positioned this as a high-end hotel, uniquely built in a place which is neither a hot spot on the peninsula nor in the Cotai area. We decided not to promote this property in a mass-

marketing campaign like many of the new brand names are doing. Because we know that our customers are focused in that particular tier I mentioned, promotion is done by word of mouth by both gaming and non-gaming customers. Today, Altira is known by the “who’s who” in Macau,

by those who like to appreciate the good things in life in Macau, both non-gaming and gaming. All the achievements in the past year are telling us that our positioning is right and that we are delivering the right product and service to the right people. As well as the business, we changed from a junket-aggregator model to a more focused individual junket partner basis, where we deliver the service to both the junket partner and agent or customer. A more customised service. However, nowadays, it is hard to maintain a certain


level of service in Macau, with difficulties on the labour market front, and the fact that customers here are not the same as in Hong Kong and Singapore. Are these not extra challenges? What you mention about the labour market is

quite right. In Macau, the government had to make the decision to protect the workforce. In terms of dealers and at supervisor level, we have to hire local people. But the problem is not specific to this property, it applies to every casino-hotel and we sort of understand the reason behind that restriction. So, it’s more about focusing on the training of the people, given the turnover rate is so high, particularly in food and beverage and in the gaming sector. It is so important that you manage the team right and provide enough training. We have become used to that environment quite

well in the past three years. Honestly, and in terms of lack of labour, at City of Dreams, before the opening, we were nervous about not having enough labour to have the building ready. But it applies to any new Cotai property as well. After three years, we have just become quite used to that. And our relationship with the government is very close and very well maintained.

Bye, bye Amax At the end of the day what puts a smile on the

faces of the shareholders are results and especially gaming results. Before getting into that, why exactly were the changes at Altira regarding the relationship with junkets introduced? (see box in these pages) First of all, we never changed positions on being

partners with the junkets. A lot of people just confuse, stereotype or categorise the junkets as somehow being some kind of lower level, but to me it has a different meaning. To me, they are our partners and we can’t live without them because of a lot of restrictions existing in the gaming industry in Macau. Since [many of] our customers come from mainland China, we need our partners to promote and secure

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