Among the 3,600 delegates who passed through the Singapore Expo & Max Atria's halls for the Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific 2021 (ITAP) from 22-24 November, about 140 were there for a concurrent conference: LogiSYM Asia Pacific 2021.
The two-day hybrid event from 23-24 November took place in a dedicated ballroom on level two, attended by local (90%) and international (10%) delegates in the supply chain industry.
Host, The Logistics & Supply Chain Management Society, was supported on the events management front by joint-organiser Constellar, who "did a grand job in settling all the government checks, and managing the Eventbrite [digital platform]," according to Peter Raven, part of the LogiSYM planning team.
Raven had flown into Singapore one week prior to the conference, but planning started "more than a year ago, since we originally planned the event for March 2021. We had contingency plans, and kept postponing".
Dr Raymon Krishnan, President of the society, explained it this way: "We worried if the event is going to happen at all; we've had a couple of false starts. Previously we tell attendees the event is on this date, please [get your flight tickets] and turn up. Now, we've to give them the paperwork to submit to STB, European destinations have it easier for entry."
UK-based Raven for instance, cleared all the necessary documentations and "a whole checklist" in UK, but noted there was no assistance apart from the government websites, and the airlines' checklist.
Navigating the new conference checklist
To avoid a bottleneck before the conference, the organisers sent test kits to delegates' homes — each cost S$100 (US$73) — and arranged the logistics around that.
Krishnan added that cost has at least doubled, for things such as setting up conference facilities for speakers to dial in, and hiring heads to liaise with sponsors and speakers because "where previously one person could coordinate with a 100 people, now it's with 50 people due to the to and fro".
Raven also pointed out that the Singapore government's rule calls for conferences to use a different brand of Covid-19 test kit, under the Lucira brand as the regular domestic kit isn't allowed.
Despite adhering to the letter, there were some unexpected glitches.
Vivien Cheong from Arcstone had received her test kit ahead of the conference, but the government-mandated MediCord TESTrack website for uploading results had issues, meaning she could not upload her results. As a precautionary measure, Cheong brought the entire kit to the conference, although she was allowed in eventually.
Delegates are free to mingle — except during meal times — made possible as Singapore continues to expand on newer Vaccination Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS+Test) at business events, marking steps forward in the return of safe meetings.
While delegates could not bring food into the conference, they were served once at breakfast, and another time at lunch. The bento boxes and drinks were served only when delegates are seated — mingling during meals are strictly prohibited.
Once done with meals, delegates are required to mask up, and food trays are swiftly cleared by roving waiters.
Following the conference, yet another element in the itinerary gave a semblance of 'normalcy": a closing party at Timbre+, a new food village also within the Expo grounds.
"There's a lot more planning than usual, quite a headache at times, but a 100% worth it," said Krishnan.