SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC) increases its footprint in the business of MICE (Meetings, Incentives,Conventions, Exhibitions) as it recently opened the SMX Convention Center Clark, seen as the hub of the North.
“SMX Convention Center Clark’s presence in this vibrant district of the North solidified SMHCC’s unprecedented growth and optimism as Clark Freeport is poised to become the preferred MICE and tourism destination in the Asia-Pacific region by 2030. What you have seen today are just a few of the countless and creative ways of transforming these event spaces at SMX into slice of life representations that exude dynamism, rhythm, and energy,” said Peggy Angeles, SMHCC Executive Vice President.
SMX Convention Center Clark is dubbed as the second stand-alone convention center after SMX Manila. It boasts of a gross leasable space of more than 4,000 sqm comprising of two-level event venues and a mezzanine floor for offices. The facilities are complete with three trade halls with 1,466 sqm leasable space and can accommodate up to 5,000 persons; three function rooms with leasable space of 1,664 sqm that can fit 100 booths or 1700 persons depending on set up type; and 14 meeting rooms that has a total of 931 sqm leasable area.
Located within the SM City Clark, it is right connected to Park Inn by Radisson Clark and is linked to the mall and corporate towers via a walkway called the SM Sky Line.
“The formula is working great, that’s why we are so happy to have it in Clark,” said Walid Wafik, SMHCC Senior Vice President for Operations. “Having a mall beside a hotel and a convention center is a tried and tested formula of generating foot traffic and business as shown in Davao, Bacolod, and at the Aura Mall in BGC Taguig properties.”
SM City Clark is home to 10 corporate towers leased by BPO offices and will be adding three more office towers.
“It will be a holistic complex or SM integrated complex and as mentioned, no SMX ever giving more connection via the Skyline, so everything would be safe, convenient,” Wafik added.
MICE has been seen as an important contributor in foreign arrivals with an estimated 8 percent share in arrivals in 2018. The industry generates more revenue compared to average visitor spending, but in the absence of relevant data, the path was unclear until DOT launched a MICE roadmap in 2018 meant to have a more defined approach and increased revenue.
Presently, events outnumber exhibitions in the “E” segment. Concerts, weddings, and birthdays have been increasing and taking over a sizable part.
“One of the other segments or industries where we are seeing some movement are not just the multi-level marketing companies, but also many social events like weddings and birthdays that you haven’t seen in the convention centers in the past. But because of the space that we have and the physical distancing that we can provide, we have now seen more weddings happen in our convention centers and birthday parties and even renewal of vows, and of course graduation ceremonies,” revealed Agnes Pacis, SMXCC Vice President-General Manager.
“I think the biggest market segment for Clark is going to be corporate because of all the company locators that are here in CDC complex, followed by conventions of associations. This could be associations of architects, engineers, dentists, and even bazaars etc.,” she said.
Pacis also mentioned that she would like to bid for the ASEAN Tourism Forum to be held in Clark when the turn for the Philippines comes.
SMX and more
With the opening of SMX Clark, other projects to expect will be in 2023 according to Peggy Angeles.
“First quarter will be our Lanson service apartment and hotel. So that’s about 400 rooms which is a block away from Conrad Hotel. Following that will be our SRSP project in Cebu which has two hotels — one is a three-star and the other is a four-star hotel — plus the SMX Convention Center. We have other projects but not in the next five years. Baguio is also in the pipeline. We go where the expansion of the mall is planned. We always are guided by where SM Prime is going. We collaborate and we see if there is a market then we go. There are always opportunities that are presented to us by SM Prime in various locations, whether in the mall that will have the facility, or area for the hotel,” Angeles revealed.
Currently, the SMHCC portfolio is comprised of nine hotel properties with a combined inventory of more than 2,200 rooms and over 41,000 sqm. of leasable convention space. The list of properties under SMHCC includes Taal Vista Hotel, Pico Sands Hotel, Conrad Manila, Radisson Blu Cebu, Park Inn by Radisson—Clark, Davao, Iloilo, North Edsa and Bacolod— and the SMX Convention Centers and trade halls.