. MICE industry stays resilient in Singapore | Meetings & Conventions Asia

MICE industry stays resilient in Singapore

A slew of support schemes and business innovation initiatives mean Singapore is primed for the return of business events.

SINGAPORE — As destinations across Asia-Pacific begin to reignite local economies and reopen borders, Singapore is ideally placed to welcome the safe return of international meetings and incentive travel programmes, thanks to a number of support measures recently introduced by the Singapore Government and Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

These forward-thinking initiatives provide added confidence to international event organisers by ensuring Singapore’s MICE ecosystem is alive and well. Meanwhile, new training and up-skilling efforts are supporting local players to ‘reimagine’ events for the post-Covid-19 world.

SG Clean: A mark of assurance

Hygiene is now at the very top of the priority list for event planners. Singapore recognised this and launched a scheme back in March to audit hotels and attractions nationwide in order to give them a mark of hygiene excellence — by way of the SG Clean certification.

To be certified "SG Clean," businesses must fulfil a seven-point criteria. For hotels, this includes appointing an SG Clean manager to oversee the property's practices, conduct temperature and health screening of employees, oversee arrangement for engaging external suppliers and contractors, implement cleanliness and hygiene practices, and ensure compliance with health and travel advisories as well as government orders on Covid-19.

As an SG Clean-certified venue, Marina Bay Sands has implemented contactless services and increased deep cleaning of high-traffic areas.
As an SG Clean-certified venue, Marina Bay Sands has implemented contactless services and increased deep cleaning of high-traffic areas.


More than 250 hotels have been certified SG Clean, with The Grand Hyatt Singapore and Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa among the first to obtain the certification.

At The Grand Hyatt Singapore, contactless experiences also extend to meetings and events, with the hotel replacing all printed materials with electronic collateral accessed via QR codes; and introducing a Virtual Meeting package with dedicated technical support. Over the last few months, the property also leveraged government grants to train and up-skill staff in the areas of digital engagement.

Like all hotels in the Lion City, Mandarin Oriental Singapore, has employed the use of Singapore’s SafeEntry check-in system and significantly increased anti-viral disinfection measures for communal spaces and guest rooms. The hotel, which proudly asserts itself as ‘SG Clean certified’, also provides personal protective equipment (PPE) for all guests to use during their stay and has enhanced health and safety training among staff.

Singapore icon, Marina Bay Sands, is also adopting new ways of business. As another SG Clean-certified venue, the Integrated Resort (IR) has optimised processes and initiatives across its hotel, convention, F&B and retail spaces. These include the presence of Safe Distancing Ambassadors to ensure groups don’t exceed five persons, thermal cameras for non-invasive temperature checks, increased deep cleaning of high-traffic areas, and contactless delivery of luggage and hotel amenities.

The IR’s unique venues, such as the ArtScience Museum and SkyPark Observation Deck, as well as its fine-dining restaurants, which are often used to host private events, have also implemented these new measures.

According to STB Chief Executive, Keith Tan, the SG Clean quality mark “sends a strong signal to both locals and visitors that our tourism businesses take their cleanliness and hygiene very seriously and are committed to maintaining these high standards as a ‘new normal’ for the future”.

To ensure ‘the show will go on’, event professionals across the MICE supply chain in Singapore have accessed a number of financial support schemes. Photo Credit: Getty Images
To ensure ‘the show will go on’, event professionals across the MICE supply chain in Singapore have accessed a number of financial support schemes. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Jobs Support Scheme (JSS)

In response to Covid-19, the Singapore Government rolled out four fiscal packages to support workers and businesses. Through the Unity, Resilience, Solidarity and Fortitude Budgets, Singapore dedicated more than S$90 billion to counter the impact of the virus.
 
As part of these support measures, the MICE industry has been able to tap on the Job Support Scheme (JSS), where the government subsidised up to 75% of the first $4,600 of gross salary.

To ensure ‘the show will go on’ once travel restrictions are eased, event professionals across the meetings, events and incentive travel supply chain have also accessed additional financial support schemes, including subsidies for SkillsFuture, a set of national training programmes for lifelong learning.

According to STB’s Executive Director, Exhibitions & Conferences, Andrew Phua, the city-state will not be rushed into re-opening its borders. Instead, it is supporting lives and livelihoods by establishing safe and sustainable measures to support longer-term resilience.

“We will continue to engage business event organisers to help them prepare and implement all safe management measures before they resume operations to ensure their events can proceed safely,” he said.

Following initiatives like JSS, international planners can be assured that the MICE industry in Singapore remains robust, and ever ready to execute events once business resumes.

To bolster digital transformation, STB partnered with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to develop web-based training. Photo Credit: Getty Images
To bolster digital transformation, STB partnered with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to develop web-based training. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Marketing Partnership Programme (MPP)

Communication is a critical aspect of crisis management, so to help MICE and tourism businesses maintain an international presence and build demand ahead of market recovery, STB launched the Marketing Partnership Programme.

Under this S$20 million programme, STB supports marketing costs and awards additional funding boosters to companies that collaborate with other tourism stakeholders to create experiences that add greater value to visitors.

To bolster digital transformation, STB also developed a set of new tools under a three-step framework, known as Learn, Test, Build.

This includes the Tourism Transformation Index, a new self-diagnostic tool to identity new growth areas; Treehouse, a dedicated innovation space to test new ideas; and the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network, which allows businesses to tap into shared data and content to help guide business decisions.

On top of this, in recent months MICE players in Singapore have also leveraged online training via the STB Marketing College. In an effort to embed new digital capabilities geared towards the future, the college partnered with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn to develop web-based training on how to engage customers online.

Such programmes ensure innovation and digital readiness is at the forefront of Singapore’s re-opening plan, with local players ready to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour.

QR scanning now forms part of the visitor experience as operators use technology to manage capacity while adhering to Covid-19 health protocols. Photo Credit: Getty Images
QR scanning now forms part of the visitor experience as operators use technology to manage capacity while adhering to Covid-19 health protocols. Photo Credit: Getty Images


Business Improvement Fund

Beyond the hygiene factor, initiatives like the Business Improvement Fund allow Singapore’s MICE players to integrate new technology into the visitor experience, such as the use of digital guides and contactless registration, and to reinvent the MICE model.

For Phua, the hybridisation of events (a format where content is delivered virtually, while retaining a ‘live’ aspect) will continue long after the threat of the pandemic recedes. And the Business Improvement Fund will help reshape the local MICE landscape.

“As we take steps towards embracing what a post-Covid-19 world holds for the MICE industry, we encourage our MICE industry partners to use this time to rethink event formats, explore new partnerships and up-skill,” he said.

To further accelerate business innovation for the ‘new normal’, the Singapore Tourism Board recently hosted a Digital Marketplace to showcase market-tested technologies that can be used to create low-touch experiences and hybrid meetings.

Delight Labs, which provides an AI-powered, multilingual voice assistant for apps and chatbots, was among the 24 tech companies that took part in the online event. As a result, CEO and Founder, Andrew Kuan, said he has already received enquiries from event planners.

Kuan and his team are now working with event planners to help them automate processes for customer relationship management and enhance digital engagement throughout the entire event journey — including pre and post event.  

“The Singapore MICE industry is no stranger to innovation and digital transformation, but we will help them to accelerate their efforts and boost their competitiveness,” Phua added. “We have to be well positioned and ready to resume business when the time comes.”

For more information, visit: https://www.stb.gov.sg/content/stb/en.html

 

STB-200817

This article is brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board