A new Global Network case study investigates how one of the largest luxury tourist attractions in Singapore shifted its approach to increase sustainability.
Marina Bay Sands, a luxury resort with three, 55-story towers connected by a cantilevered roof with a park atop it, attracts nearly 45 million visitors per year, who come on business, for weddings, to gamble, to shop, or to relax. The resort, however, wanted to be known as more than a symbol of luxury; it wanted to serve as a model for how sustainable enterprises could be run.
The case was developed by a team from the Yale School of Management and the National University of Singapore Business School who interviewed the resort’s management to identify the challenges they faced. It debuted at the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society International MBA Case Competition in April and is now available for coursework throughout the Global Network.
“The basic issue they faced was one of credibility: How do you market sustainability when you’re a luxury resort charging $455 per night and also operating a casino, among other ventures?” Jaan Elias, director of case study research at Yale SOM, said. “How do you deal with that conflict of messages and visitor expectations? How do you run operations? Well, there were a lot of ways.”
For example, one challenge for Marina Bay Sands arose when the resort decided to switch to a more sustainably caught “harvest menu” of fish for its patrons. It quickly discovered that nearly 75% of the fish consumed in Singapore was considered irresponsibly caught by international standards. The hotel also found that many of its patrons desired some of the endangered fish for cultural reasons.
The resort also tackled its landscaping and event management policies. Rainwater gauges were installed in the facility’s garden systems so that watering is regulated by soil moisture rather than a timer. At “green meetings,” attendees select from a variety of sustainable food options and use facilities that meet the resort’s energy efficiency standards.
Elias said the case was well-suited for the raw format, in which students are presented with a variety of information from numerous sources rather than a simple narrative.
“The case covers a lot of ground and works on multiple levels. You can look at supply chain management and green operations. You can look at how to market sustainable meetings at a luxury resort. You could even look at it from the angle of how innovations on the level of an individual business translate to environmental impact,” Elias said.