“If you build a business, run an exhibition, or run a conference, you
would know that everything revolves around the building of
communities,” said Ian Wu, co-owner and group CCO of HUONE Singapore.
Wu was moderating 'The Rising Importance of Community Building to
Remain Relevant and Keep Audiences Engaged’ panel discussion at the
Singapore MICE Forum (SMF) 2023, where he emphasised the importance of
building communities to drive attendance and engagement at business
events. Organised by Singapore Association of Convention &
Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers, the SMF2023 was held 26-28 July
2023 at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre.
Understanding event communities: 4 key groups
Wu shed light on engaging four key groups within an event's community:
- Enthusiasts are individuals who are highly
passionate and deeply engaged in the subject matter of the event. They
are the core members of the community who actively participate and
contribute to its growth and success.
- Visionaries are forward-thinking individuals who
see the potential and long-term impact of the event's community. They
often play leadership roles and help shape the community's direction and
- Pragmatists are practical and results-oriented
individuals who seek tangible benefits from their involvement in the
event. They value the practical applications and outcomes that the event
- Sceptics are individuals who may initially be
hesitant or critical of the event. They may have doubts or reservations
about its value or relevance. Engaging sceptics involves addressing
their concerns and demonstrating the benefits of being part of the
4 ways to build event communities
1. Understand your community: Building a thriving
event community requires a deep understanding of the target audience's
needs, interests, and pain points. Tailoring content and experiences
that align with the community's values fosters a sense of belonging and
Kim Underhill, CEO/founder of She Brilliance, a women leadership
community dedicated to empowering women through mentorship and social
impact, exemplifies this approach by osting small-scale events to bring
like-minded individuals together and provide a safe space to learn from
2. Engage leaders and influencers: For the esports
community, engaging enthusiasts and drawing them to live events are a
challenge due to the rise of online interactions, said Ng Chong Geng,
president of the Singapore Esports Association.
To overcome that, Ng partners with influencers and game publishers to
mobilise networks and drive attendance to events, creating compelling
experiences that appeal to enthusiasts and newcomers alike. By actively
connecting with diverse esports communities and offering incentives for
live events, they create an ecosystem that keeps enthusiasts excited and
3. Cater to wider audiences: To attract a broader
audience, event organisers should curate experiences that cater to
different segments within the community. A wide variety of activities
and content ensures engagement from enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
Charles Ross, managing director of The Art Assembly, shared strategies to engage art enthusiasts at ART SG, one of the biggest art fairs across the Asia Pacific.
Singapore, while vibrant, has a limited number of art collectors. To
open up new buyer communities for ART SG, Charles Ross, managing
director of The Art Assembly, actively reaches out to potential buyers
in the region. The objective was to create a thriving art ecosystem that
attracts new buyers and showcases galleries to a broader audience
Similarly, Michele Lee, managing director of O4X, The O4 Company,
which focuses on two key IPs – Gastrobeats and Sneakercon – faces the
challenge of attracting a broader audience beyond a dedicated following
in the sneakerhead community. She stressed the importance of creating
experiences that appeal to different segments within the community, such
as street culture enthusiasts.
4. Early, effective communication: Early and clear
communication about the event's offerings and value proposition is
crucial to generate interest and drive attendance. Utilising various
communication channels, including social media and content marketing,
helps reach the target audience effectively.