Singapore eyes hybrid future with industry resilience roadmap

New guidelines for hybrid events and capability building network will make Singapore a 'living lab' to test future business models.

IRR launch main
The Event Industry Resilience Roadmap offers practical tips on how to implement safety protocols and provides scenario planning for Covid-related emergencies at events.

As Singapore’s MICE industry begins to creak open, an event guidebook has been launched to help professional conference and meeting organisers de-code the government’s new safety measures.

The Event Industry Resilience Roadmap (IRR), officially launched during a hybrid ceremony on 07 October, offers practical tips on how to implement protocols for increased hygiene, crowd control and scenario planning for emergencies at events — like what do to if a positive case of Covid-19 is detected on site — and will be used to formulate the SG SafeEvent certification, which will be launched later this year.

A joint initiative between the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS), Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the IRR demonstrates the power of collaboration in mapping the future of meetings and events.

“This roadmap will be a valuable guide to our industry during this period, to help them build new capabilities and emerge stronger,” says STB deputy chief executive. Chin Siang Yap. “We look forward to working closely with our industry partners to rebuild and recover, and set Singapore apart as the world’s leading destination for safe, trusted and innovative business events.”

SACEOS held a series of tabletop sessions with industry stakeholder to make sense of the government's safety measures and determine areas of responsibility between planners, venues and attendees.
SACEOS held a series of tabletop sessions with industry stakeholder to make sense of the government's safety measures and determine areas of responsibility between planners, venues and attendees.

The IRR features a weighty chapter on how to plan and monetise hybrid events, which blend offline and online audiences. The IRR guide will be continuously updated to reflect evolving health and safety measures and testing procedures, as well as the onslaught of new digital platforms for events.   

Future editions will explore business model innovation and outline the core capabilities and skills needed to manage successful events (be they live, virtual or hybrid) in the future. This will include developing new educational pathways and training programmes to help MICE professionals, including freelancers and self-employed individuals, acquire skills that will support industry recovery.

To do this, SACEOS has signed an MOU with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to establish the MICE & Events Capability Building Network. Supported by STB, ESG, Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore, the partnership will help to foster new career paths, and develop new learning modules in conjunction with Singapore’s universities and educational institutes.

At the MOU signing, NTUC Hospitality and Consumer representative, Hassan Bin Abdullah, said: “We look forward to multiplying efforts to enable and support companies, as well as freelancers and self-employed professionals… We will also leverage our network to curate learning journeys and facilitate sharing of experiences and best practices across industries.”

Embedding new skills is mission critical

Clearly, the message here is that MICE, as we know it, will be forever changed. Hybrid events are here to stay, so you better get on board (or online?) or get out. This is an argument that industry leaders have been making for some time, and global associations, like PCMA, have been doling out digital training programmes since before the pandemic began. Up-skilling an entire industry that has been brought to its knees is no mean feat, but Singapore, at least, has a plan.  

Speaking to M&C Asia, SACEOS president, Aloysius Arlando, said event planners will need a repertoire of skills that include both digital and physical elements to succeed in a ‘blended’ future.

IRR launch speech
SACEOS president, Aloysius Arlando, says Singapore is a 'living lab' that will test new event pilots and business models.

This will require an intimate understanding of how to engage audiences (regardless of their physical location) and create value for sponsors to (ultimately) generate revenue.

“We had our ‘ah-ha moment’ following discussions with universities, institutes of higher learning and industry stakeholders,” Arlando explained. “We need to re-examine the composition of skills in today’s typical MICE professional and understand which skills are timeless, which skills are outdated, which skills can be transferred, and which skills we are lacking.”

Arlando references skills in broadcasting and digital content production as areas of focus and says MICE businesses will need to assess whether they embed or outsource such talent in order to manage costs effectively.

“There are lots of interesting applications when it comes to cost and revenue structure... Singapore is a 'living lab' so we’re doing our own lab exercises now and, if it works well, we plan to share our findings with the global MICE industry,” he said.

The IRR is now available, however events professionals will need to join SACEOS in order to access the document. Annual fees for ordinary members are between S$800 and S$1,700, and membership for individuals is S$100. IRR 2.0 will be released at the end of 2020.