Pushing boundaries: Singapore blazes a trail for the future of events

Singapore makes great strides in its latest MICE event, expanding global opportunities for networking and COVID-safe meetings.

The inaugural launch of gamescom asia 2021 sets a new benchmark for innovative, COVID-safe meetings in Singapore.
The inaugural launch of gamescom asia 2021 sets a new benchmark for innovative, COVID-safe meetings in Singapore. Photo Credit:gamescom/Koelnmesse

In-person interaction remains a powerful driving force in the business world. The return of meetings and events took another leap forward in Singapore recently with the inaugural gamescom asia 2021 exhibition, a platform to develop the region’s gaming industry, where local and international delegates were able to network and conduct business effectively in a safe environment.

 

Reconnecting face-to-face with safety as top priority

Organised by Koelnmesse, the four-day hybrid event welcomed more than 2,200 attendees from over 60 countries attending physically as well as virtually.

In-person connections are the key draw for physical delegates, as gamescom asia 2021 provided a glimpse into the future of safe events.

The event organisers partnered with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to trial new protocols and innovations to pave the way for the safe and calibrated resumption of MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) events.

Event delegates were able to experience a strong line-up of activities that included conference sessions, 1-to-1 business appointments, interaction with game displays, and safe networking with fellow gaming experts.

The Lucira self-test kit was piloted at gamescom asia 2021, the first to be used at an event in Singapore.
The Lucira self-test kit was piloted at gamescom asia 2021, the first to be used at an event in Singapore. Photo Credit: M&C Asia

In addition to granting admission only to fully vaccinated participants, daily pre-event testing was also conducted for delegates at gamescom asia 2021, along with additional protocols such as safe group itineraries for foreign participants and less restrictive zoning requirements.

“With the additional safeguards, delegates were able to interact freely within the trade show safely,” said Poh Chi Chuan, Executive Director of Exhibitions & Conferences at STB.

Previously, on-site delegates had to be segregated into cohorts of 50 pax. However, gamescom asia was selected by STB to trial new protocols that allowed delegates to network and explore the trade show freely.

Koelnmesse Managing Director, Mathias Kuepper, said: “STB was instrumental in pushing the boundaries to remove the need for zoning; what we want to do here is to collect data and see what works. That is key to see what is the right way for the MICE industry to open up.”

Meals were collected from stations fitted with plexiglass and groups of five are permitted to dine together within the event venue with 1m safe distancing, in line with current SMMs for MICE events.
Meals were collected from stations fitted with plexiglass and groups of five are permitted to dine together within the event venue with 1m safe distancing, in line with current SMMs for MICE events. Photo Credit: gamescom/Koelnmesse

An impetus for change

While incorporating a number of new Safe Management Measures (SMMs), gamescom asia 2021 has helped to pave the way for the safe and calibrated resumption of MICE events.

Co-located alongside gamescom asia, the invitation-only Global Top Round (GTR) 2021 Conference saw a good response from studios, publishers, and investors in the gaming industry. A year ago, GTR was only organised as a virtual event.

“We organised this event with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board. They kept us updated constantly on all the regulations so that we could brief our overseas delegates,” Pontus Mähler, Director of Business Development of GTR, said. “With our local partners, STB and our staff, we organised the event through daily phone calls and good old-fashioned spreadsheets. It was really easy.”

He added: “If you adhere to safety precautions and laws, you can still make business happen.” Which he urged his fellow industry members to learn from.

Echoing this, Koelnmesse’s Kuepper stressed “the world has to learn to live with COVID-19”, and while there may be “many steps to attend to”, he believes these are necessary for sustainable growth leading to the recovery of the  MICE industry.  

Kuepper added that the virtual component of gamescom asia allowed the event to have a “greater reach into the region”. In fact, he plans to make the virtual showcase a permanent feature for his shows moving forward.

Following the success of this year’s event, Koelnmesse has confirmed that gamescom asia will return to Singapore in 2022, this time with an expanded event programme.

On-site attendees at gamescom asia 2021 had to be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 pre-event test result in order to gain entry to the show.
On-site attendees at gamescom asia 2021 had to be fully vaccinated and present a negative COVID-19 pre-event test result in order to gain entry to the show. Photo Credit: gamescom/Koelnmesse

Looking towards a positive future

The Safe Business Events Framework sets the tone for more collaborative efforts between government and the MICE industry.  It was established at the onset of the pandemic to outline hygiene and safety measures for event organisers to plan a safe experience for all event delegates.

Since TravelRevive — Singapore’s first major travel trade show during COVID-19 — to the Singapore FinTech Festival, PCMA Convening Leaders, and Geo Connect Asia, the logistical demands of event safety measures and the safe accommodation of on-site guests have gradually become easier and smoother for event planners.

“Since the start of the Safe Business Events Framework, we have piloted more than 160 business events of various sizes. This series of pilots allows us to see what is effective so that we can scale it up for the next event,” Poh shared. “Every event becomes the foundation for us to think about how we can push the boundaries next as we open up our market for business.”

Looking ahead, Singapore will maintain its momentum in charting a new direction and capturing the pent-up demand of the MICE industry.

Poh added: “Even during this time, we are seeing a huge demand for business events, for face-to-face meetings, and for business deals to be made. I’m very optimistic that come next year, we’re going to see more demand coming our way.

“I am extending my welcome to all different event organisers who are thinking of starting a show in 2022, come approach us [STB] and let’s talk about how we can make your event a success.”

Click here to explore the possibilities of planning events of all sizes in Singapore.

 

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This article is brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board



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