During these challenging times for meetings and events, one positive outcome is the way the entire industry has come together (albeit virtually) to learn, collaborate, share knowledge and support each other. As governments across the world develop their own plans and timelines for the return of live events, there is plenty that we can learn by sharing best practice and case studies.
Singapore is one destination worth watching. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has outlined a clear and steady roadmap to bring back meetings and events safely. We share eight ways the government is working with the MICE industry to make it happen….
Clean and safe
Underpinning everything is the “SG Clean” campaign, launched by the National Environment Agency to rally businesses to uphold good sanitation standards and hygiene practices. In order to be certified for the “SG Clean” quality mark, venues, hotels, restaurants and other establishments have to go through a seven-point checklist. This covers the appointment of an SG Clean manager, temperature and health screening of employees and implementation of cleanliness and hygiene practices. Independent organisations have been appointed to certify that establishments have met and continue to maintain these requirements, giving reassurance and peace of mind to planners and delegates. To date, more than 22,000 individual premises have been certified SG Clean.
Health, not haste
As a global MICE hub – business events provide an economic value-add of $3.8 billion to the destination according to a study commissioned by STB in 2019 – Singapore is keen to get events up and running as soon as possible. But the approach is very much safety first, and slow and steady in order to stress test at every stage.
From 1 October 2020, STB will start accepting applications to pilot events of up to 250 attendees. This follows the successful pilot of its Safe Business Events framework last month. The framework based on strict safe management measures including limits on crowd density plus infection control measures for every stage of an event attendee’s journey. Organisers who apply to pilot events with up to 250 attendees must demonstrate their ability to implement Safe Management Measures to meet a set of health and safety outcomes.
Driving digital innovation
STB is also encouraging MICE businesses to experiment with innovative digital solutions to support the creation of virtual and hybrid business events. For example, facilitating the link-up between one event organiser and a leading technology company to transition the Asia Fruit Logistica event to virtual. Another event, the International Dental Exhibition and Meeting (IDEM), converted its physical trade show and conference into a fully virtual event in June 2020 that attracted close to 4,000 participants, with over 300 exhibiting brands from over 50 countries.
Making hybrid happen
Piloting “hybrid” formats with a mix of face-to-face and virtual interactions are likely to be the norm for business events in the near future. Using STB’s Safe Business Event Framework, two hybrid pilots have taken place – the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Computational Electromagnetics and Asia Pacific MedTech Virtual Forum 2020. Each event featured a maximum of 50 onsite attendees, in addition to approximately 1,000 virtual attendees.
To further support hybrid event formats, Marina Bay Sands has launched a state-of-the-art hybrid event broadcast studio at Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Designed to accommodate a live studio audience of 50, the studio will act as the central hub for event planners looking to produce hybrid meetings.
Collaboration, not competition
STB and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) are collaborating with the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) to formulate an Industry Resilience Roadmap (IRR) – a public-private partnership focused on three strategic objectives: Establishing best-in-class standards for new event safety measures, creating agile business models with a focus on digital capabilities, and developing pathways for professional development in the post-COVID-19 world. The IRR will serve as the “roadmap” to guide Singapore’s event organisers as they plan for the safe resumption of other B2B events in Singapore.
Safe and innovative experiences
To prepare Singapore for the eventual resumption of exhibitions, trade shows and leisure travel, the Alliance for Action on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences has designed safe itineraries, which will be trialled by delegates at a new event in November called TravelRevive – powered by ITB Asia & STB.
These itineraries comprise a selection of leisure activities that not only comply with prevailing safe management guidelines, but also provide high quality bespoke experiences supported by ground handlers and tourist guides, who will assist with visitor movement management.
The Singapore Government has committed SGD$100 billion to protect jobs and help businesses through the crisis. To help MICE businesses improve their competitiveness, the Government launched schemes aimed to spur technology innovation and adoption, and to transform business models and processes. Upskilling is another priority area where funding is available to support employee upgrading, and talent and leadership development.
In addition to financial support for the industry, the STB has enhanced its assistance schemes for organisers to attract new MICE business into Singapore. This includes funding and marketing support under the Business Events in Singapore Programme, as well as updates to the In Singapore Incentives & Rewards (Inspire Global) scheme and the Singapore MICE Advantage Programme (SMAP). Both offer perks such as complimentary experiences or shopping vouchers for groups over a certain size. The Inspire Global and SMAP benefits are now combinable and qualifying groups are eligible for two complimentary experiences from the Inspire Global scheme, with the minimum group size required to be eligible for the SMAP being reduced from 100 to 50.