Singapore wraps largest in-person exhibition since pandemic

Collective public-private sector push delivers Covid-safe event with 5,000 in-person attendees.

ITAP 2021 attendees were free to mingle over the three-day exhibition from 22-24 November.
ITAP 2021 attendees were free to mingle over the three-day exhibition from 22-24 November.

On the back of a collective public-private sector push, Singapore has successfully wrapped its largest in-person exhibition since the pandemic: the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific 2021 (ITAP) from 22-24 November.

Hosted as a hybrid event and supported by organiser Constellar, delegates who could not join physically logged on to a digital platform, which ran the Industrial Transformation Forum, Future of Manufacturing Summit, the Standards Forum, digital sandboxes featuring 'smart' factory virtual walkthroughs, product showcases, and business matchmaking sessions.

Organiser Constellar hosted a separate Gevme-powered digital platform for attendees who could not be there physically.
Organiser Constellar hosted a separate Gevme-powered digital platform for attendees who could not be there physically.

But for those who could, there was definitely a palpable sense of excitement in the air — since in 2020, the only physical component was the opening ceremony, and even then, it was with a cap of 100 attendees.

Delegates arrived at the Singapore Expo & Max Atria as early as 1.5hours before the 10am opening session, where clearly marked signage guided the way around registration and to the exhibition floor.

After taking the pre-event test (PET), filling in an e-declaration form and a short wait, it was off to the opening ceremony. Delegates sat one-metre apart and, together with guest-of-honour Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, witnessed a string of agreements to boost supply chain resilience.

On the exhibition floor, attendees could freely mingle and explore some 109 booths representing eight countries. There was also a business matching lounge and workstation zone, although food and drinks were not able to be served, and handshakes discouraged.

From days two to three, happening concurrently with the exhibition, was the LogiSYM Asia Pacific 2021 conference, which had 300 registered attendees, of which 10% were foreign attendees.

Delegates could opt for the quicker option of registering via the face recognition machine by Trakomatic, capable of managing accuracy at a large scale event.
Delegates could opt for the quicker option of registering via the face recognition machine by Trakomatic, capable of managing accuracy at a large scale event.

Letting technology do the work

One major component in Singapore's path of regaining its foothold as a MICE hub is the use of technology.

Following gamescom asia 2021 in October, this month's Bloomberg New Economy Forum and now ITAP 2021 — eased Vaccination Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS+Test) have been successfully implemented.

For instance, after a daily PET, delegates could either register the traditional way over the counter and collect their badges, or be screened with a facial recognition machine, which prints out a pass.

Thereafter, a dongle/token the size of a thumb is assigned to each delegate throughout the event for movement tracking and capacity control.

All delegates at ITAP 2021 were required to carry around this Safe Events Tool, to facilitate movement tracking and capacity control.
All delegates at ITAP 2021 were required to carry around this Safe Events Tool, to facilitate movement tracking and capacity control.

Called the Safe Events Tool, the technologies were developed by Viatick and Trakomatic under Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority's National Innovation Challenge, which invited local companies to create solutions for sector-wide challenges.

In fact, previous trials of the technology at TravelRevive in November 2020 — the first international travel trade show in Asia Pacific — and Geo Connect Asia in March 2021, guided similar protocols at ITAP 2021.

"For TravelRevive, the dongle was paired mobile application for attendees, but this was not a very sustainable and scalable method as mobile applications for a single day event are mostly dealt with high resistance and low take up," said Louis Kent Lee, Head of Accounts & Engagement, Viatick.

"The most practical was to link everything up with the dongle/token, already paired and integrated with the registration ticket details."

Lee pointed out a benefit for sellers as well.

"What’s new at ITAP, is the way business interactions are also logged; where there’s an extension within Safe Event Tool to let exhibitors have an overview of who requested for their specific content/brochure".

ITAP 2021 attendees were encouraged to swop out handshakes for elbow and fist bumps instead, to reduce contact.
ITAP 2021 attendees were encouraged to swop out handshakes for elbow and fist bumps instead, to reduce contact.

Booking sheet for 2022 "really long"

All these public-private efforts will pave the way towards Singapore's calibrated push to reopening its international MICE sector, where Singapore Tourism Board's Executive Director, Exhibitions & Conferences, Poh Chi Chuan, indicated that the Lion City signed "a few shows" in the past few months, adding to an already strong Q1 and Q2 2022 pipeline.

"So far, our pilots have been a safe space, and from the data we've seen [our measures] are very effective: low incidence rates, and none of [the events] became a cluster. This gives us the confidence that we're able to continue to push, and every round we are fine tuning our safety management measures with event organisers.

"[ITAP 2021] paves the way for us to conduct bigger shows in 2022 moving forward, such as the Singapore Airshow 2022 in February, and the Tax Free World Association Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in May," he said.

And while these events might not be as large as ITAP, Singapore is definitely expecting more events to come on board.

"The list is really long so this goes to show the demand for industry events in the MICE sector is high, but what we hope is that [even as] we work with larger shows in pushing safety management measures, independent show organisers will be able to find the space to come and organise their own business events as well."



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