As Galaxy Entertainment’s VP of international development, Jane Tsai says she hit the “trifecta”—the perfect intersection of gaming, hospitality and business creation.
Even so, and despite a strong personal allegiance to Galaxy Deputy Chairman Francis Lui, in late 2017 Tsai found herself pulled in a new direction.
“I had my dream job at Galaxy, but I’m a serial entrepreneur at heart,” she says. “I thought I could influence the conversation as an independent more than I could on the inside.”
The idea took hold as she assessed new Asian markets.
“I recognized a huge knowledge gap out there,” she says. “We were being asked not just about the commercial terms of partnerships but who is the target audience, how do you get a hotel to work with a casino, how do you put restaurants in—it was very basic, IR 101. I knew I could bring a level of depth and understanding that would allow them to have more informed conversations.”
In response, she founded JCT Holdings, with a panel of experts who know the rules of the game and can teach them to new, emerging and even established operators.
“Unlike the PWCs, KPMGs or Deloittes,” says Tsai, her team is made up of former IR execs (from Wynn, Caesars, Marina Bay Sands, Cosmopolitan, etc.). “We don’t just study the industry, we’ve worked in the industry. We bring real, hands-on experience and knowledge” that enable governments, operators, consortiums and other partners to create and operate successful IRs.
In Japan, she says, the three groundbreaking operators will be chosen based on their reputations, both outside and inside Japan, their track records as partners, and of course financial performance: “cash reserves, how leveraged is the company, financial impact to the markets they operate in.”
But they must also understand the culture. As a longtime high-level marketing executive (for Galaxy, Expedia and Hotels.com) and a Taiwanese-American (born and raised in Seattle), Tsai knows how to hit the right notes.
“There’s a subtlety and grace about everything in the Japanese culture, and it affects commercial dealings as much as interpersonal communication,” she says.
“To build strong relationships, foreigners must acknowledge this and adhere to as many of the unwritten social protocol nuances as possible. The biggest mistake is to be perceived as forcing, rushing or pushing one’s opinion.”
Asked about her former base of Macau, where the Big 6 concessionaires face an imminent re-tender process, Tsai says the SAR’s global dominance would have been impossible “without the incredible investment, dedication and support from each of the six concessionaires.”
That said, and despite the dearth of developable land, she believes there’s room for more. “To stay regionally, even globally competitive as a tourism destination, Macau needs to push the experiential envelope and create new, unique and exciting tourism opportunities. One or possibly two new operators could open up a host of possibilities.”
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Japan—often called the “Holy Grail,” with a potential market value of $25 billion or more. But Tsai sees opportunity worldwide.
“Mature, saturated EMEA markets need innovation to change decades-old operational and marketing habits that are becoming irrelevant to today’s gamer,” she says. “And the gaming industry everywhere is trying to crack the ultimate question: what does a millennial gamer want?
“We at JCT are continually keeping a close watch on changing consumer trends, trying to help our clients stay ahead of the curve.”