by Esther Faith Lew | September 01, 2016

 

More than 30 decades of industry experience stand behind her, and it has been an evolving landscape of upheavals and catalysts of change. While one common rhetoric among industry professionals may speak of the disrupters that have caused waves of fragmentation among players, Tan-Collis prefers to call them "enhancers".
Recently recognised as the PCMA 2016 Global Meetings Executive of the Year, Tan-Collis shares with Meetings & Conventions Asia her thoughts on education, technology and what it means to be relevant, experiential and memorable in the current market.

Do you see artificial intelligence as the next wave of innovation in the industry?
We are indeed facing interesting times in the industry. Everything that has come about in the technology realm has served to improve and enhance service levels rather than to disturb the order of things.
So technology is an enhancer rather than a disrupter because it helps us to be more time and cost effective in our operations. But it is not a replacement for many things. 
Our industry of eyeballing and handshakes cannot be replaced - providing our clients with the experience and memorable takeaways from an event cannot happen in a virtual context. 

How do you adopt technology and innovation in your work?
For me, necessity was the mother of invention. I was thinking of a way to alleviate the workload of my associates so they could spend more time focusing on front desk duties. I decided to hire a developer to create an interactive planning portal. Using this portal, planners are able to log into their account and build itineraries according to their requirements. 
The programme allows the planner to create and propose itineraries, price them and send them to clients in a brochure format. This is a white-label product that allows planners to use to their advantage. It has increased my yield by 30 percent since its launch.
I am already in talks with investors to see how I can develop it further and make it available to the industry. Singapore Tourism Board is also looking to see how it can be a complementary marketing tool.

How do you create a memorable event with a local flavour?
A recent client - the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine - wanted a post-conference finale night with a local flavour. I booked Makansutra Gluttons Bay for a party of 3,000. They have never done such large-scale events before, but it turned out to be a huge success. The nighttime setting was beautiful and the delegates enjoyed themselves.

What is SACEOS's goal in driving MICE education?
We continue to work closely with PCMA to professionalise the industry and to collaborate with regional associations to have our courses accredited. We have the highest number of graduates in Southeast Asia to have attained Certified Meeting Professional certification. By 2018, we want to be recognised as the education hub for MICE.