. Courage amidst adversity: How Singapore’s MICE industry is reinventing events for the future | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Courage amidst adversity: How Singapore’s MICE industry is reinventing events for the future

Event professionals share stories of resilience and business innovation, paving the way for Singapore’s post-Covid recovery.

MICE professionals in Singapore are reinventing business models and fostering creative partnerships to emerge stronger from Covid-19.
MICE professionals in Singapore are reinventing business models and fostering creative partnerships to emerge stronger from Covid-19.

As meeting and event planners across the globe examine new ways of working, in Singapore, event professionals have embraced the new norm by reinventing their business, embedding new digital skills, and forming new, creative partnerships in order to emerge stronger from Covid-19.


Strengthening digital capabilities

As one of the many determined players in the Singapore MICE industry, World Express Group managing director, Darren Tan, said that while international meetings may be on hold, his team has been exceptionally busy.

“We’ve embarked on a lot of training programmes to keep staff engaged,” he said. “We’ve focused on digital because there’s been a big shift to digital in everything we do — whether its digital marketing, being more competent online, or creating virtual experiences and hybrid events that combine online and physical meetings.”



Thanks to government grants and support, Tan says he has also been able to make calibrated investments to ensure the 51-year-old destination management company (DMC) remains relevant and ever-ready to welcome visitors once borders reopen.

This includes investing in low-touch technologies, such as wireless guiding systems and wireless microphones for tour guides, which allow for safe distancing measures without compromising on the experience.

“The MICE and tourism industry has allowed us to prosper and lead meaningful lives, so we’ve decided to dig into our reserves and invest in the future,” he said. “We believe the market will bounce back and we want to be there when it does. So, this is our commitment to the market and to our people.”

In the interim, however, his team is keeping international clients engaged by hosting virtual tours around Singapore’s cultural neighbourhoods and creating virtual experiences like live-streamed tea ceremonies in Chinatown.

With an eye on the future, Singapore’s MICE stakeholders are experimenting with new event formats and digital engagement tools.
With an eye on the future, Singapore’s MICE stakeholders are experimenting with new event formats and digital engagement tools.

Embracing virtual elements in MICE events

Following the coronavirus outbreak, planning for the Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed) 2020 conference in Singapore was turned on its head, and CEO Harjit Gill said the association “had to pivot fast”.

“We held our first virtual AGM back in February and that was a great learning. Building on that, we accelerated the learning by hosting our annual conference as a virtual forum,” she said.

To do this, APACMed partnered with Singapore-based creative agency, Chab Events, and local event technology provider, GEVME, to create an immersive digital experience.

“We were lucky to find both partners in Singapore and worked closely with them to plan the programme, understand how we can creatively engage our membership base, showcase products, and promote online networking,” Gill said.

The 24 September event went off without a hitch and attracted more than 1,000 virtual attendees with four different content tracks, more than 100 speakers, and 65 sessions that included a mix of in-person discussion panels, live-streamed video content, and pre-recorded webinars. There were also virtual 3D exhibition booths for sponsors and a host of networking opportunities.

The team at APACMed worked with a number of industry partners in Singapore to “pivot fast” and host its very first virtual conference.
The team at APACMed worked with a number of industry partners in Singapore to “pivot fast” and host its very first virtual conference.

New tech tools driving MICE transformation

The Mandarin Oriental Singapore is also gearing up for the new normal, having recently partnered with an AV supplier to convert its meeting rooms into a hybrid event studio in order to offer a ‘safe’ space to host virtual meetings.

“We’re starting to see the light,” said Lirong Wang, director of sales and business development at the hotel. “While we’re still experimenting and gathering feedback from clients, we’re excited by the opportunities this technology can offer. It’s very versatile and the set-up is mobile, so it can be moved around the property.”

The hotel has already hosted a number of virtual events in the studio and, following the recent government announcement allowing the pilot of MICE events of up to 250 pax from 1 October, is gearing up to host larger hybrid meetings.

We are prepared and already have new function room capacities in place, and our banquet and service teams are well-versed with the latest safe management protocols when it comes to events, having already managed a number of weddings,” she said.

Looking ahead, she believes technology will go hand-in-hand with the guest experience. “Interaction is really important, so we have to find the right balance,” she said.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore recently converted its meeting rooms into a hybrid event studio in order to offer a ‘safe’ space to host virtual meetings.
Mandarin Oriental Singapore recently converted its meeting rooms into a hybrid event studio in order to offer a ‘safe’ space to host virtual meetings.

Passion makes MICE innovation possible

Embracing an active learning process, Gill said the team behind APACMed Virtual 2020 were “learning by doing” and that she was encouraged by the enthusiasm of both her team and her event partners.

“Our annual conference is the only event that brings together the regional medical device industry so cancelling the event was not an option, and in a year of such transformation, its critical to come together to collaborate,” she said.

WorldExpress Group
The team at World Express Group is embracing new ways to connect with clients and local partners in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Similarly, Word Express Group’s Tan said collaboration has  proved critically important.

“Clients want to be informed and are actively seeking our advice, so we are keeping in touch with our local partners to exchange ideas and share the latest industry updates and government guidelines,” Tan said.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore is also exploring new partnerships in order to “jump back into the industry” when international MICE visitors return.

“We’re already working with a number of DMCs and attractions to offer local, authentic experiences that can later be scaled-up for international groups,” Wang said.
 
With an eye on the future, it’s clear that MICE stakeholders in Singapore are ready, willing and able to welcome international groups in a safe environment once borders reopen.

 

STB-200817

This article is brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board