Skip to Content

How One of ASEAN’s Leading Marketers Is Preparing for the Future

How One of ASEAN’s Leading Marketers Is Preparing for the Future

Dr. Nicco Tan, VP of Marketing at Resorts World Genting, discusses the state of marketing and the skills marketers should be building now.

According to the seventh edition of our State of Marketing Report, 90% of marketers globally say their organisational priorities have changed since before the pandemic. 

Many marketers are embracing technology, data, and measures of success in new ways. They are also changing how they communicate and collaborate at work. While innovation is one of the top priorities for marketers in ASEAN, it’s also one of the top challenges. 

To dive a little deeper into these trends, we spoke to Dr. Nicco Tan, Vice President, Marketing at Resorts World Genting. A leading marketer from one of the industries most impacted by the pandemic, Dr. Tan offered a unique perspective on the state of marketing in ASEAN.

Here are highlights from our conversation, including Dr. Tan’s top tips for marketers just beginning their digital transformation journey.


How have your marketing priorities changed since the start of the pandemic?

Nicco: One of the challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic is the uncertainty about when it is going to end. For that reason, we’ve had to carefully manage our resources to ensure we have enough people in customer facing roles, as customers start to come back to the resort.

We’ve also needed to maintain constant contact with our employees, most of whom have been working remotely. We pivoted our use of Marketing Cloud to focus on internal communication, which allowed us to get messages out quickly to employees and keep them informed of what we’re doing to manage this crisis.

With the first round of communications, we reached around 90% of employees and, with a little education, we were soon able to get the rest of our employees used to communicating this way.

How has the pandemic impacted your plans for innovation and digital transformation?

Nicco: The pandemic led many businesses to accelerate their digital transformation. However, those of us within the hospitality industry really had to tighten our belts. 

We had to think about social distancing and how to minimise revenue loss, knowing that customers would not return right away.  

One industry innovation during this time was the application of Wi-Fi and mapping technologies to monitor foot traffic and manage social distancing. 

In the future, we could use the same technologies to identify movement across our property. We could then send customers real-time communication that’s relevant to their location.

How are you getting ready for the reopening of the economy? What role does marketing play in revitalising the tourism and hospitality industry?

Nicco: Many people are ready to get out and start travelling and visit hospitality venues again. As marketers, it is our job to inspire them and that’s why we are shifting our messaging. Safety is still a priority on-site, and people know that we are a trusted brand in terms of safety, so we are amplifying our messaging to focus on inspiring people to travel again, while assuring them that we are making it safe for their visit. 

Our upcoming campaign ‘Welcome to My World’  reflects this change in messaging and offers a reminder of what it’s like to travel and visit our hotels and attractions. We’ve enjoyed seeing our visitors return to enjoy the resort.

What are your priorities for the next 12 months? How do you see the future of marketing taking shape?

Nicco: Mobile phone use is growing and people are spending more time on digital channels. So I will be shifting priorities and budget towards these channels to get our messages out. 

We will continue to allocate some budget to traditional channels like radio and billboards, because these remain highly trusted by consumers.

What is the most exciting new development you see in your industry?

Nicco: It is exciting to see more collaboration in the industry. A lot of direct competitors are now working together and creating new opportunities for the smaller players especially. 

One of the outcomes is an increase in dynamic pricing based on supply and demand. Many larger hotels and hotel chains have used dynamic pricing for some time, but it is more difficult for hotels with a limited number of rooms. However, we are starting to see online travel agents collaborate with the smaller hotels to implement dynamic pricing and level the playing field. 

Another thing I see is that there is no customer loyalty anymore. It may be controversial to say that, but I think customers are more concerned about safety and affordability at this point in time. They will make decisions based on price over brand, and trade off convenience for lower-priced alternatives.

What are your top tips for marketers who are beginning their digital marketing transformation?

Nicco: First, I would say don’t be afraid. A lot of marketers have been through this journey and can provide proof of success. So take a leap of faith and if you don’t know what to do, find external resources or a partner to support you. 

My second piece of advice is to take it slow. You don’t need to rush into everything and start experimenting in many different areas at once. Instead, go back to basics and ask yourself what’s most important. This will likely mean investing in revenue-generating activities first. 

It is also important to have the right mindset. Taking a traditional process and digitising it without improving it is not digital transformation.

What skills should marketers focus on building right now?

Nicco: Data skills are key right now and I am happy to go to meetings today and find my own team using dashboards and talking about analytics. That is not something that happened in the past. 

I do think marketers need to be clear about what they are tracking and why, as there can be a tendency to start measuring and analysing everything. They also need to be careful when collecting data that they are not adding unnecessary steps for customers or breaching any privacy policies. 

As marketers mature their data skills, they will be able to navigate these things and get more value from the data collected.

Want Trailblazer tips and thought leadership straight to your inbox?