SMF 2017: Welcome, Pandora!

Oscar Cerezales, COO, Asia Pacific of MCI Group
Oscar Cerezales, COO, Asia Pacific of MCI Group

There are no "buts" about it. You either evolve or revolutionalise. When you've got Oscar Cerezales, COO, Asia Pacific of MCI Group as the chair for this year's organising committee, you can expect to hear the language of change and to think out of the box. 

"Products and services must evolve, while business models of companies must undergo a revolution," Cerezales highlighted.

The two-day conference held from July 27 to 28 at Marina Bay Sands was designed to compel delegates to re-imagine by engaging them through different session formats. Debates to spark verbal sparring; taking contrary viewpoints, and in essence, throwing out the old to welcome the new. 


In his opening address for day 2, Cerezales opened the Pandora's box to address the need to engage customers emotionally, not just transactionally. With this understanding, MICE professionals can begin to build upon the layers of holistic and economic value to make events and meetings an attractive part of the marketing mix. 

He addressed the investment priorities of CMOs, of which events and marketing have a healthy share of 30 percent. This makes it worth the while of MICE professionals to look at how they are helping marketers get their customers. "83 percent of marketing goals are on increasing sales. So how can we make it easy for them to track ROI in events," prompted Cerezales. 

He also identified the current red ocean that the MICE industry is swimming in, with players all competing for the same market and focusing on beating the competition. Instead, the goal should be to create new uncontested markets and to make the competition irrelevant.

It is an industry that needs to attract the attention of venture capitalists, something which is still lacking, according to Cerezales. The top three industry sectors that have received funding are in software development, biotechnology and media and entertainment. The MICE industry is not on the radar of these venture capitalists, he stressed.

The session ended with takeaways from key industry professionals on "skills", "outcomes" and "disruption".

"Are you afraid? What do we need to be equipped with in order to face something that is so uncertain. The ability to try, fail, and try again is to be encouraged. But from a company's perspective, I'm not going to allow you to fail fast and at my cost. Your bonus will be striked off. So how do we ensure our workforce is future ready? 

"Firstly, we need to build up our EQ and think about how to synthesise, analyse and create the value proposition. Secondly, no man or woman is an island…the ability to collaborate is important…Profitable companies come about from a passionate workforce, and that is the crux of it all."
- Aloysius Arlando, CEO SingEx

"Have we gone too far in our quest for justifying our industry and quantifying our outcomes, the ROI and the economic impact? We all know that when people come together and meet face to face, incredible things happen. When doctors and researchers come together, they can impact outcomes for cancer patients around the world.


"Outcomes are far and wide but very difficult to quantify. It can be simple but impactful. It can be a business connection that bears fruit. It can be the friendship forged from an event. So let's think about telling our stories, the work that we do and the lives that we change."
- Claire Smith, VP, sales & marketing, Vancouver Convention Centre

"When we were younger we were disruptive. It was a problem. Change we looked at as work. But the fact is, we won't be here today if we did not evolve. We must disrupt. If we are not prepared to change, we will be extinct. 'Those that recognise the inadvertibility of change stand to benefit the most from it.' Together, we in this room, through events or otherwise, have the power to change the world. We must take that to heart, and start to disrupt."
- Sherrif Karamat, COO PCMA

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