SINGAPORE – A highlight of Northstar Travel Group’s recent M&C
Asia Connections (MCAC) Virtual event, was a panel session flanked by
industry leaders who discussed practical ways forward in this ‘new
With more than 100 regional attendees tuning in, M&C Asia
discussed market sentiments with Kuala Lumpur-based Francis Cheong, CEO
of Aavii Worldwide; Song Yi Kim, COO of Chris & Partners based in
Seoul; and Alexis Lhoyer, co-founder of Chab Events, which has a
presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and France.
In the wake of Covid-19, the biggest challenge for all three
companies was the need to 'pivot' to virtual events and transform their
underlining business model accordingly.
For Cheong, the ability to act quickly — together with "a lot of trial and error" — has kept him ahead of the curve. “Our team only had two days after the announcement of Malaysia’s
Movement Control Order (on March 18) to transform a live event for the
virtual sphere," he explained.
"Luckily, due to some previous experiences in managing webinars and
live streaming, we progressed quickly, hosting seven webinars in April,
and 11 in May. In August, we ran a mixture of hybrid and live streaming
In South Korea, Kim said her business was one of the very first to
make the 'pivot' to digital, and quickly transformed her office into a
webinar studio. As events were cancelled across Seoul, Kim pushed ahead
to host a highly successful live streaming event in May, and backed this
up with a hybrid conference in early June, which was attended by 40
city government leaders and 158 speakers globally.
“With these successes, the market became more receptive to trying new
virtual and hybrid models," she said, revealing plans to expand the
Market needs are continually changing, and for Chab's Lhoyer, this
means additional training to ensure his team can adapt quickly.
“We spent a lot of time training the teams in web technologies, HTML,
video and content creation, and also a lot of education on the buyer’s
side — because everyone experienced webinars before Covid-19, but how
can we execute in a meaningful way? And how do we cost to it? That's the
big change for everyone,” he said.
Chab Events is currently planning the Asia Pacific Medical
Technology Association (APACMed) Virtual Forum 2020, set to take place
on 24 September in Singapore. The hybrid event, which will bring
together more than 1,000 virtual attendees and 50 in-person delegates,
has also been earmarked as a pilot event to test the government's
recently introduced Safe Management Measures for events.
“To create an interesting conference experience, we've had to weave
multiple technologies together. On the content side, we have 90 speakers
for more than 60 education sessions, and AI-powered networking. We're
also using gamification to raise the customer engagement — because when
you do virtual conferences, the number one question from sponsors is:
“How do I get people to my virtual booth?” shared Lhoyer.
“So, we’ve been building up tools for engagement, not just classic
ones like surveys, but embedding technology that allows attendees take
selfies and turn it into a logo… We try to maximise engagement with the
audience through every single platform.”
Rounding up the session, the experts agreed that the key to business survival is "progress and agility,” as Cheong stressed.
Song said that ongoing uncertainty surrounding the spread of Covid-19 means that event planners must be ever-ready to adapt.
“We thought we could open up in September, but in Korea a second wave
just hit us and all hybrid events are now back to virtual, because we
can longer have audiences in the same room," she said. "Everything
happened so quickly and planners like us have to be ready to react to
change accordingly — be ready, but don’t be afraid”.
Next up on Northstar Travel Group’s calendar is M&C Asia
Connections Virtual - Global Edition, set to take place on 28 October
Stay tuned for updates.