Singapore’s venue operators, hoteliers and event planners are coming up with innovative ways to remain competitive, as more affordable regional destinations gain prominence.
As one of South-east Asia’s most expensive destinations, Singapore is losing out to more affordable cities such as Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
“The common grouse we’re getting is that Singapore is very expensive,” said Eunice Chua, director of business development, inbound – international, of SingExpress Travel, noting that the highest costs were due to hotel rates and translator fees.
The spike in pricing is especially perceptible in hotels with meeting and conference facilities, observed Daniel Chua, chief executive of Aonia, a conference organiser.
In a bid to keep afloat, hoteliers are wooing event planners with value-added promotions and packages.
Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale, general manager of The Fullerton Hotels Singapore, said: “One way for Singapore to improve as a destination for meetings and incentive programmes is to offer delegates unique experiences… along with modern conveniences to appeal to their quest for immersive experiences.”
One of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s recent efforts is introducing wellness offerings for business guests, such as providing healthy dining choices and fitness activities onsite.
As well, Park Regis Singapore and Parkroyal on Pickering now offer additional benefits to corporate guests, including perks like Handy phones for international calls and Internet access, and bicycles and e-scooters to get around the city.
Similarly, conference centres and event planners are boosting their technological capabilities to provide organisers with enhanced services.
Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre is now equipped with built-in RFID heat-mapping technology, which tracks the location and movement of event attendees who connect to the venue’s Wi-Fi.
Originally used for internal maintenance and security, the centre recently started sharing data on attendee movements on show floors with organisers.
“Data analytics is the way forward,” said Bibiana Lau, Suntec’s senior director of sales. “You have to build a community and constantly engage (delegates), not just during your show.”
Meanwhile, Singapore EXPO Convention & Exhibition Centre has adopted a “hybridised” model, becoming a venue that develops its own new-to-market events. This allows its team to experiment with both online and offline elements at its own shows, said Aloysius Arlando, CEO of SingEx Holdings.
He cited the Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2016, when the centre “festivalised” the conference into a multisensory experience.
He said: “We brought the conferences, exhibitions, start-up alleys and F&B into one plenary space. Delegates felt like they wanted to engage and were not going to lose out. The festivalisation gave the event character.”
To supplement attendee engagement, digital and mobile elements were also used, such as having Twitter posts with the “SGFintechFest” hashtag appearing on a live TweetBoard.
“If you don’t embrace hybridisation, you’re going to be a dinosaur,” remarked Arlando. “Everyone recognises (technology’s) disruptions, but how to embrace it is another question.”
For now, one of Arlando’s concerns is getting people with the “right skill sets and talent” who are not afraid to make changes.
Lau concurred: “We’re focusing on younger talent. The way they look at the industry is different, so we should look towards them for the future. Companies have to evolve and change, or it’s going to be very difficult to see people coming back for the next edition (of the event).”