Jing Travel take: Being a shareable tourist attraction is vitally important for word-of-mouth marketing in China, but it can be difficult to get a grasp on the degree of success due to the closed nature of WeChat. Marina Bay Sands, the world’s most Instagrammed hotel, provides a highly diversified offering: it sports a large casino, a world-famous infinity pool, a huge retail area, and a busy exhibitions area—something to share for all types of travelers.
In 2017, The Marina Bay Sands Singapore became the most Instagrammed hotel in the world, according to data released by Instagram. That puts it in the company of Disneyland (the most Instagrammed place), and the Louvre (the most Instagrammed museum).
Over a million snaps have been uploaded to the app from the luxury hotel’s Skypark, 57 stories up, where the world’s longest infinity pool looks out over the city.
The hotel has been the most iconic building in the city-state since it opened in 2011. The architecture, designed by Israeli-born Bostonian Moshe Sadie, has been likened to a spaceship docking, a work of sculpture, and an ironing board. Inside are 2,561 luxury rooms and The Shoppes, which are made up of 800,000 square feet of retail and dining, and 170 luxury and premium brands.
The Marina Bay Sands is something of an outlier on Instagram’s top ten list, with seven of the others situated in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Marina Bay Sands is itself a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp.) No Chinese hotels were included in the top 10—little surprise considering that Instagram is blocked in China.
How Marina Bay Sands ranks in terms of Chinese travelers’ holiday pics is harder to establish because pictures posted on China’s most popular social app, WeChat, can only be viewed by friends. The hotel’s Weibo account (滨海湾金沙), though, reached over 4 million users organically in 2017 and has a respectable 51,830 fans. That’s twice as many as the Peninsula Shanghai, but not a patch on the Crown Plaza Beijing, for example, which has 1,706,602 fans.
Regardless, Hotels.com says a selfie from the hotel poolside is a “bucket list” item for Chinese visitors to Singapore, who are the top spending tourists in the country, dropping an estimated $3.52 billion in 2016, up nearly $1 billion from 2015. The numbers of Chinese visitors have been growing fast too, with 2.86 million in 2016, up 36 percent from 2015, second only to Indonesia.
Marina Bay Sands says Chinese travelers are among the top five countries of origins for both the number of guests who stay at the hotel and the amount they spend. And selfie-taking pool-loving tourists are especially important to the property’s revenues as the take from its casino declines.
To reach Chinese visitors, a spokesperson for the hotel told us they have collaborated with Chinese celebrities including Jing Boran (井柏然) and Fu Xin Bo (付辛博). They also have an ongoing relationship with WeChat, including the “iBeacon campaign, which employs the app’s ‘shake’ function and location-based mechanisms to deliver targeted promotions and distribute e-vouchers redeemable at The Shoppes.”
Crucially, the hotel and The Shoppes also accept Alipay, which, along with WeChat Wallet, is one of Chinese travelers’ favorite means of payment.
Meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) are also part of Marina Bay Sands’ strategy, and the hotel creates customized meeting itineraries and programs for Chinese groups. This year, Marina Bay Sands is also home to Art Stage Singapore, one of the most prominent art fairs in the region.