Gaya Travel team had the privilege to interview Dato’ Badlishah Haji Ahmad, the Chief Executive Officer of Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC). In an exclusive interview, he shared PICC’s exciting and future plans in building their brand and ultimately, the venue.
Dismissing The Perception
“When we took over PICC from Perbadanan Putrajaya in 2013, there were two public perceptions that PICC needed to dismiss: that the place is meant for government functions and events only and that Putrajaya is far from Kuala Lumpur”; Dato’ Badlishah quipped.
With a smile, he added; “PICC is actually open to all. And if you are coming from Kuala Lumpur via MEX highway, you can reach Putrajaya in about half an hour”.
After the takeover, PICC begins to tap on the corporate sector market by enhancing its marketing efforts so that it would be able to garner more corporate clients, including recruiting highly experienced and committed marketing talents. PICC sees that out of the 60% of its corporate clients, 10 to 15% should come from international events.
PICC then took steps in communicating to the public, especially the private corporations using various methods such as advertising and publicity through mainstream media, billboard, digital marketing such as short message services, and social media like Facebook.
Dato’ Badlishah believes that the customer experience is important because the public could easily disseminate information about how good or bad an establishment is through social media – when satisfied customers put in good words about PICC, they inadvertently do experiential marketing on behalf of PICC, which is crucial in making sure that PICC remains relevant.
Spoiled For Choice
Nowadays the atmosphere at PICC is more inviting and vibrant due to the presence of a business centre, retail outlets and franchised restaurants.
The retail outlets provide stable income to PICC besides rental of booths and venue. Bazaars, which consist of spaces at PICC’s foyer that are rented out to vendors, are also set up concurrently during large events to further boost PICC’s income. PICC also offers Wi-Fi connectivity to the public.
On top of that, PICC also introduces its new signature event titled I’SO (pronounced ‘ai-so’, Kadazan word for ‘one’), a showcase of the rich heritage and culture of Malaysia’s various ethnicities via 45 minutes of exclusively choreographed dance and music extravaganza. Each dance is specially choreographed to perfection and audience are encouraged to participate on stage.
As every dance featured in I’SO has its own story to tell, so does every graceful movement, every single beat and most of all, every single smile.
“I’SO is in line with PICC’s efforts to establish Putrajaya as one of the major tourist locations in the country and PICC as the gateway for visitors to the administrative capital of Malaysia”; he said.
I’SO is presented twice daily and patrons can opt between two packages – Deluxe (inclusive of lunch) and Standard. The show is unique in the sense that, chances are, you may not be watching the same dance sequence twice.
Food. With A View
Dato’ Badlishah said; “What diners like about Cafe@PICC is the chance to enjoy the view of breathtaking Putrajaya Skyline as they dine there. Apart from food and beverage being PICC’s strongest point, this I believe, is PICC’s unique selling point”.
Since PICC sits on Putrajaya’s highest point, it offers vantage position for visitors to enjoy spectating large scale events held in Putrajaya such as the Red Bull Air Race, Putrajaya Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and Putrajaya International Fireworks Competition. As such, PICC has now begun attracting the public as the place for them to get together with family and friends to enjoy reasonably priced comfort food and beverages while enjoying the view of Putrajaya.
PICC also receives positive feedback with regard to its culinary offerings such as steamboat buffet at night and Ramadan buffet. Diners from around the vicinities of Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Sepang, Bangi and Kajang remarked that the buffet served at PICC to be value-for-money. PICC also entertains tour groups from Indonesia and China stopping by for lunch when visiting Putrajaya.
“Our café can accommodate up to 1,000 diners at any particular time. For Iftar (breaking of fast) buffet held throughout the month of Ramadan in 2014, the café was fully booked, especially during the second and third week. That caught me by surprise. A pleasant one, that is”; he added.
Since the response looked encouraging, from March 2015, PICC has started selling its Ramadan buffet vouchers as early as during the previous MATTA Fair. As expected, the vouchers were all sold out.
Bringing The World To PICC
To further establish PICC’s mark on the world map, PICC is actively participating in international travel fairs and MICE conventions around the world such as the Internationale Tourismus-Borse (ITB) in Berlin and World Travel Mart in London under the auspices of Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB). In addition to that, PICC is also looking into smart partnerships with Professional Conference Organisers (PCO) to attract new customers.
Dato’ Badlishah remarked; “PICC needs to catch up with the other newer convention centres in terms of holding international events. Each of the international events that PICC has hosted involved over 1,000 participants. Being a standalone building and not immediately connected to any accommodation facilities, PICC has created smart partnerships with hotels in the surrounding areas, where more than 2,000 rooms are available”.
PICC is also the member of International Congress and Conventions Association (ICCA), the global meeetings industry association and the leader in the international association meetings sector. ICCA represents the main specialists in organising, transporting and accomodating international meetings and events, comprising 1,000 member companies and organisations in over 90 countries worldwide.
“We are constantly being approached by organisers thinking of having their events outside of Kuala Lumpur due to traffic congestion and parking nuisance, especially upon learning that PICC has over 2,000 parking bays”; Dato’ Badlishah said.
The Road Ahead
PICC is one of the hallmarks of Malaysia’s MICE) industry that contributes 6% to 7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with seven times multiplier effect, meaning for every RM1,000 spent by a MICE tourist, the impact to the local economy is RM7,000.
“Malaysia’s MICE industry looks positive. Since 2002 until today, the Malaysian MICE industry has grown more than 100%. To further enhance the Malaysian MICE industry, I believe the government should provide more incentives to convention centres and international event organisers, especially when it comes to tax”; Dato’ Badlishah suggested.
He added; “Apart from building a strong brand for PICC, the tax relief, coupled with carefully planned marketing and risk mitigation strategies, would indefinitely assist us in propelling PICC as an internationally renowned MICE centre”.
“Our current focus is building PICC’s brand so the public will have PICC on top of their minds. PICC is now booked up for all weekends throughout the entire 2015, so I believe we are on the right track”.