Thai unrest impacts on Banyan Tree revenue

Ongoing political and social unrest always have inevitable ramifications on the MICE industry, especially when countries issue travel advisories which affects tourist arrivals.

Even Banyan Tree, the manager and developer of premium resorts and hotels, reported a 27% fall in net profit, in the fourth-quarter of 2013.

Profit for the 3 months ended December 2013 came in at S$3.7 million.  This is down from S$5 million in the same period in 2012.

Forward bookings in the first quarter of 2014 for the Banyan Tree hotels in Thailand are 11% below the same period last year.

Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary, Phuket
Banyan Tree Spa Sanctuary, Phuket

Banyan Tree operations outside Thailand continue to perform favorably.

Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Scheme

Unlike in bigger countries, the SMEs in Singapore face a critical shortage of manpower, especially when they are small set-ups who are unable to match the attractive packages that MNCs or bigger companies can offer to potential recruits.

According to an SME Centre executive, many small SMEs are family-run business.  In terms of manpower utilization, there is a positive advantage in roping in family members to help in essential job areas, because in the face of tight timelines where timely deliverables make or break a business, who else would continually go that extra mile of doggedly rushing day and night without hitting the roof?

But even with the most willing spirits, there is a limit to the output achievable from manual methods.  In the face of competition and manpower constraints, there would come the day when survival of the business depends on how productive and innovative one gets. Once a pattern to the system is established, we can often identify aspects where labor-intensive tasks could be automated or delegated to viable sources.

To encourage businesses to undertake improvements in productivity and innovation, and to defray rising operating costs such as wages and rentals, there is a list of qualifying activities under the PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit) scheme rolled out by the Singapore Government to spearhead the push for economic restructuring and lessen the reliance on foreign workforce.

2014 PIC Brochure Page_12014 PIC Brochure Page_2

Many enterprising funding consultants have set up business to help SMEs with the process of applying for the PIC and other grants.

Get Funding runs a DIY-PIC workshop priced at $297.00.

MICE Ranking took the option of registering for PIC Clinic.  It's a free-of-charge, one-to-one consultation with an IRAS officer and SME Centre executive (

The experience with IRAS's Ms Chua and SME Centre@SMF Development Executive Bernard Tan was highly positive.  Not only are queries keenly and attentively addressed, and 'blur' areas made clearer, Ms Chua even noted down the request for website development to be considered as an essential productivity and innovation tool.

While there are many uses for a website, from the SME standpoint, it enables customers — local or international — to find you instead, reducing the reliance on traditional advertisement methods or sales calls.  Most businesses have websites that frankly does nothing for their business - a revamp would do them good, except they may not have had the budget for this.

On March 2014, IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore) announces that they would allow Website Development costs as a qualifying expenditure.

IRAS Examples of Qualifying Expenditure

This is immensely helpful for many SMEs.  Where before the only option for struggling or clueless SMEs may be a DIY one, they can now procure the help of professional website designers.  These website designers may be local or overseas.

Kudos to the IRAS for acting speedily on constructive feedbacks.