Seasoned well to taste: Singapore

The city state’s reputation as a gastronomy hub has propelled event organisers to deliver more unique experiences. By Paige Lee Pei Qi SG

Singapore may be home to towering skyscrapers, but this concrete jungle has also been busy growing a plethora of unorthodox and authentic experiences to increase the country’s business events offerings.

Jeannie Lim, executive director, conventions, meetings and incentive travel, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said: “The challenge for organisers is to continually create events of outstanding quality, interesting and original content, which are supported by enriching experiences to create more value for delegates.”

Lim pointed out how several event venues, hotels and event organisers have begun investing in experiential dining concepts to cater to the evolving needs of their clients.

For instance, with the exhibitions industry moving towards confex (a hybrid of conference and exhibition events), Suntec Singapore introduced a Dessert Safari catering concept as a catalyst to integrate both components seamlessly.

According to Arun Madhok, CEO of Suntec Singapore, the concept was developed as a answer to the organisers of HR Summit’s desire to draw conference delegates to the exhibition, and improve the crowd circulation around the exhibition hall.

The Dessert Safari – which transforms a typical lunch buffet dessert spread into a culinary kaleidoscope – encouraged delegates to find the 27 desserts that was spread across nine dessert stations placed throughout the exhibition hall.

Leveraging its Michelin-star-studded dining collection, Marina Bay Sands (MBS) offers a dine-around concept that showcases six celebrity chef restaurants. Delegates start with cocktails and canapés at the first restaurant, then move on to subsequent establishments for starters, mains, desserts and digestifs.

STB’s Lim elaborated: “While business events have already been incorporating gala dinners, receptions and networking cocktails as part of the programme, many are looking towards unconventional venues to host these activities. Singapore offers a variety of unique venues for organisers to customise new concepts.”

At the Night Safari for instance, the attraction recently rolled out An Evening in the Wild package which features the attraction’s diverse wildlife and is designed for organisers looking for an intimate venue for 40 (seating) to 60 (standing) guests. Guests can enjoy a three-course meal in a tepee tent and get up close with the animals at the same time.

And while organisers are already familiar with the picturesque Gardens by the Bay’s cosy indoor spaces and spacious al fresco areas, the new outdoor venue Secret Life of Trees – which made its debut in July 2016 – offers a unique alternative. The space adopts a fairytale-like garden setting, framed by trees of varied species, and offers plenty of photo opportunities.

According to Darren Oh, director of business development at Gardens by the Bay, there has been a surge in demand for outdoor venues at the attraction, and this spot, which caters for up to 120 guests, is the answer to this growing interest.

Another interesting venue option in Singapore is the Royal Albatross, an exclusive luxury yacht which can accommodate up to 149 guests. There, guests are able to indulge in culinary delights paired with wine, and take in the sunset as the yacht cruises along Singapore’s coastline.

Andrew Koh, managing director of Events Architects, told TTGmice that corporate event delegates are indeed “becoming increasingly hungry for new experiences and would often be adventurous to explore possibilities that are not classified as the norm”.

However, he pointed out that capacity is a challenge for unique venues and activities.

Koh explained: “Most of these fun events must be executed in smaller group sizes (an average of 30) to allow guests to enjoy a fuller experience. But (business event) groups can be large in numbers, and thus it could be a problem.”

Judy-Lim

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{Developments to Watch}

1Myanmar visitors bound for Singapore for short trips no longer need to apply for a visa from December 1, 2016. Under the agreement, both countries will grant an exemption of visa to each other’s citizens for a stay not longer than 30 days, subject to prevailing entry requirements.

2Another step has been taken towards the development of the Mandai nature precinct, an integrated nature and wildlife destination in Singapore’s north. A ceremonial ground-seeding event took place on January 16, marking the start of the district’s rejuvenation. By 2020, the precinct will welcome two new nature attractions that will sit alongside the current Singapore Zoo, the River Safari and the Night Safari.

3On December 13, 2016, an agreement for the development of the 350km Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail project was signed. Three services are slated to run along an eight-station, dual-track line, including an express service between Singapore’s Jurong East and Kuala Lumpur’s Bandar Malaysia.

TropicalValley

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