Singapore may not be known as an innovation hub just yet, but the city is certainly making headway to meet the demand for varied and in-depth local experiences for MICE delegates. International meetings and events buyers who were in town for the second successful edition of Asia Business Meet had a front-row seat in some of the new developments happening.
At the Tour Design Challenge Hackathon hosted by Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the buyers participated as 'judges' in a pitching session, which saw nine shortlisted tour operators and companies taking turns to pitch new ideas on tours tailoring to business travellers.
"The challenge is an enhanced version of our previous industry-wide calls for tour proposals, with the aim to develop a diverse selection of good quality tours," said Ong Ling Lee, director, travel agents and tourist guides, STB.
At the next stop, buyers were given a fitting introduction to Peranakan history through a hands-on dining experience at an authentic Straits cuisine restaurant in Singapore. Housed in Claymore Connect along Orchard Road, 130-seater The Peranakan was not just any ordinary restaurant. It also houses a retail and events space, in which buyers met with Executive Chef Raymond Khoo, a real-life Baba (an honorific for Straits Chinese men) who regaled colourful tales of the Peranakans in Singapore.
"I've visited Singapore at least 20 times but have never heard of the history of the Peranakans before today," quipped an association buyer from the UK.
In the restaurant section, buyers took in the colourful and ornamental designs from ceiling light fixtures to tables and walls and tucked into authentic dishes such as Nasi Ulam, a dish of rice with raw herbs, vegetables, minced fish and salted fish. Served alongside the dish was a surprise course: a vocal performance of a cheeky folk song by Chef Shirley that got buyers laughing and learning about Peranakan culinary culture.
To cap off the evening on a high-note, buyers were treated to an evening among the futuristic greens of Gardens by the Bay. Hosted at the Secret Life of Trees, buyers mingled at the 475-sqm outdoor venue - a perfect vantage point for the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show - and tucked into local dishes catered by Purple Sage Group.