Asia/Singapore Thursday, 23rd November 2017

[Sponsored Post] Things you might not know about Putin and his choice of resort for APEC 2017

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Some interesting facts about the Russian President’s interests and taste.

#1: Putin was greatly influenced by his paternal grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin, a skilled cook who worked for Lenin, then Stalin.

Photo: Reuters

“It required sensitive political instincts and nimble balancing… He passed what he learned to a grandson eager to hear such things” writes Katusa in The Colder War.Hence, there are undoubtedly culinary secrets about how and what one of the planet’s most powerful leaders actually eats. It is said that there are top chefs, doctors and even food tasters involved in each dish of Putin’s meals. As he travels a lot, the food he eats on the move is another story.

#2: Putin loves animals, nature and has a well-known passion for active outdoors leisure namely fishing, skiing, horse-riding and swimming.

Photo: Reuters

#3: Not to be outdone, there is undoubtedly over-the-top security involved in the accommodation of the President during overseas visits. Each time he travels, an immensely security plan is set and executed weeks before. About one month before the trip, a team of multi-functioned experts from Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) will be present to thoroughly investigate the area including the hotel Putin plans to stay. They will handle all possible risks and ensure the hotel can be considered “overseas Kremlin Palace” in term of facilities, security, hygiene and service. The chosen premises hence, certainly needs to acquire a long list of luxury standards, service and security.

#4: Recently in mid-November, Vinpearl Da Nang was chosen for Putin’s stay in Vietnam, for the APEC Summit 2017, and those foregoing facts explain.

Image: A deluxe ocean front villa with full panoramic view was chosen for HE President.
Image: Spacious and refined living room

Nestled in tranquility of the palm trees’ shadow, the villa boasts an open space in harmony with nature, yet ensures absolute privacy and security for the President.

Image: Inside the villa, each room is fully equipped with modern, high standard utilities and amenities; highlighted with Vietnamese contemporary artworks.
Image: Major books representing Vietnamese culture and all over the world’s are showcased on the bookshelf.

Image: A state-of-the-art conference room was the place to host important leaders’ meetings.
Image: Each villa has private space facing stunning tropical gardens and one of the six most attractive beaches on the planet, voted by The Forbes.
Image: Especially, a tranquil beach line connected with the resort campus has made Vinpearl Da Nang one of the most beautiful destinations in Vietnam.
Image: The infinity swimming pool under the tropical canopy is the favorite of most guests.

Vinpearl is the only Vietnamese luxury hospitality brand that was selected to accommodate world leaders and senior delegates during APEC meeting 2017. It is known as the leading Vietnamese hospitality company operating 17 hotels that adds on a total of over 11,000 rooms and 2,000 villas across Vietnam. After the success of accommodating Putin, the resort chain is expected to go through an extensive growth strategy in the upcoming year to compete with market leaders in the region.


Food waste prevention certification to launch soon in Thailand

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A food waste prevention certification programme – The Pledge on Food Waste – will debut across Thai hotels and event venues at end-November, following a ceremony by Sampran Riverside to mark its success as the first hotel to achieve this certification.

The Pledge, a third-party verified food waste prevention standard articulated around nine key guidelines and 85 criteria to cut food waste and save on food costs, is endorsed by organisations such as United Nations Development Programme and Business France, and audited by Audit Diagnostic Tourism Solutions.

Sampran Riverside is the first hotel to be certified in the food waste prevention programme

The programme seeks to help organisations understand and tackle food waste, by setting up a system that encourages hotels and venues to monitor food waste, build capacity among their employees and apply the right KPIs, among other things. Participants can also access a web-based Food Excess Monitoring Platform as well as LightBlue’s “complete attention and assistance throughout the process”, according to Benjamin Lephilibert, The Pledge’s secretary and managing director of LightBlue Environmental Consulting.

Programme implementation support right through to certification is provided by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), which dangles subsidies as encouragement for hotels and event venues to join.

Lephilibert told TTGmice that although the programme has been available for months, the decision was made to only publicise it after the first successful certification.

“We (want to) demonstrate that the programme can achieve real financial results and is a serious process that requires true commitment. Sampran Riverside’s success will be the base on which we will build our communications,” Lephilibert said.

Through the programme, Sampran Riverside, a family-run eco cultural destination located an hour from Bangkok, was able to cut food cost percentage by 3.04 points on average and food waste by 6,405kg, reduce 12.5 per cent in food cost per cover, and offset 19,215kg in carbon emissions within 10 months.

While Lephilibert believes that “TCEB’s backing will absolutely open doors for us in approaching business event venues and hotels in Thailand”, he admitted that there is still much resistance in the marketplace towards food waste prevention.

“Firstly, people are generally in denial about (food waste). Secondly, food waste is a relatively new issue that has only started to make headlines,” he explained.

He continued: “Also, there isn’t an accounting system to quantify food waste. Without understanding the extent of food waste being produced, it is hard to address it. For example, some major hotels we worked with were found to generate more than 1,000kg of food waste daily, which equates to an annual cost of more than US$1.0 million. The moment you can put a figure on it, people will…pay attention.”

Cost of implementing the programme and certification audit varies according to the size of food operations or number of covers sold a month, according to Lephilibert.

Malaysia Airlines strengthens proposition for corporate groups

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Malaysia Airlines has introduced a slew of new offerings for 2018, specifically targeted at incentive groups.

Arved Nikolaus von zur Muehlan, chief commercial officer at Malaysia Airlines, said the new offerings will include dedicated check-in counters for incentive groups, special inflight announcements made by the cabin crew to welcome groups, special inflight menus, and meet and greet services for overseas groups arriving at any international airport within the country.

Arved Nikolaus von zur Muehlan: MAS to offer special fares domestically and internationally for corporate groups

The new offerings complement the national carrier’s existing ones for business event organisers and delegates under a partnership agreement with Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) to further promote Malaysia as a world-class business and major events destination.

This partnership also sees Malaysia Airlines offering discounted fares to members of any world bodies travelling to Malaysia for site inspections as well as local host committees travelling abroad to market their events.

“International delegates and speakers travelling on Malaysia Airlines to attend regional and international conferences in Malaysia are also eligible for special fares,” shared Arved.

In addition, special fares for domestic travel are available for a week prior to a conference as well as a week after.

Arved said: “We hope this will encourage foreign delegates travelling to Malaysia to extend their stay and visit other parts of the country.”

Egencia gives business travellers an Advantage

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Egencia, the business travel arm of the Expedia group, has introduced Egencia Advantage, a new global programme of services designed to support business travellers throughout their entire journey.

The new programme prioritises corporate travellers

At launch, Egencia Advantage includes:

LoungeBuddy: Global aggregator of airport lounge information for business travellers. When travellers are delayed at the airport or have a long layover, booking into one of the hundreds of lounges available worldwide gives them quiet and comfort to get some work done while waiting, or the ability to grab a bite, rest and recharge.

Visa services: Through a global network of partners including CIBT visas, Egencia now offers travel visa processing services, which include visa application, renewal or replacement needs around the world.

AirHelp: The world’s number one air passenger rights company helps business travellers apply for compensation from the airlines following a flight disruption. AirHelp supports passengers who experience a delayed or cancelled flight, or a missed connection within the European Union (EU), leaving the EU or arriving in the EU with a European airline.

Traveller Risk Management: Egencia connects travellers with recommended providers for their specific duty of care needs.

Aside from providing travellers with extra perks on the road for greater efficiency and productivity, Egencia Advantage also gives companies the means to improve their travel programmes.

Egencia Advantage will continue to add services as relationships develop.

New rooftop events space debuts in heart of HCMC

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The five-star Caravelle Saigon in Vietnam, located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, recently launched its 26th floor event space, boasting unrivalled views of the cityscape and Saigon River.

Called Events on 26, the 215m2 space has been covered with a grass turf and decorated with fairy lights. Guests must walk a red carpet, up a staircase, and through a skyline corridor – which meeting planners can also choose to decorate – before emerging onto the hotel’s rooftop.

Caravelle Saigon’s newest event space

Events on 26 can hold up to 150 people for standing cocktails, and up to 60 people for sit-down dinners. Event planners can delight their guests with gourmet canapes, live food stations serving international cuisine and imported meats, or set dinner menus, as created by the hotel’s chefs.

Now in its opening phase, a Standard Package for the venue is priced at VND 20,000,000++ (US$880++), and includes the use of the 26th floor for the evening, a red-carpet welcome from the elevator on the 24th floor, spotlights, plants and fairy lights, ambient music and speakers. The property can also arrange for add-ons such as projectors, fireworks, barbecue grills, bands and stages.

From now until the Tet Holidays (Vietnamese New Year), a special introductory 20 per cent discount will be given for all bookings.

Email events@caravellehotel.com.

Low exhibitor advocacy a key bugbear: UFI

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Low exhibitor advocacy is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry globally, according to a report released by UFI The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry in partnership with event research specialists Explori focusing on exhibiting companies around the globe.

The report delivers key findings related to exhibitors’ behaviour, their levels of loyalty to and advocacy of the industry, their needs and, the extent to which these needs are being met by the industry:

> Exhibitor advocacy is low across the globe: only 25 per cent of shows have a positive Net Promoter Score (NPS). Globally, exhibitors rate the exhibitions they attend with a negative average NPS of -17.

> More than one-third of global exhibitors declare low levels of satisfaction with exhibitions they book, but show a high level of loyalty towards the respective show. This group of exhibitors is understood to be open to defecting to competing channels.

> Shows with high exhibitor NPS are more likely to experience growth: 71 per cent of shows with positive NPS are experiencing growth in exhibitor numbers whereas only 32 per cent of shows with negative exhibitor NPS do. In addition, more than twice as many high NPS shows are experiencing notable revenue growth when compared to low NPS shows.

> Exhibitions that offered exhibitor training to all, or most, saw a 23 point boost in NPS vs shows that did not provide this service. This suggests that educational offers for exhibitors are a promising reaction to poor NPS scores.

And a proper newness strategy also boosts exhibitor satisfaction: shows that actively promote newness have notably higher exhibitor satisfaction score than shows that do not: 3.71 vs 3.35 (out of 5).

A summary of the research is available at www.ufi.org/research. The full report is available to UFI members in the UFI Members’ area of the ufi.orgwebsite.

The findings are based on survey data collected from visitors and exhibitors via Explori’s dedicated research platform. In total, 1,040 trade shows from over 40 countries have conducted postshow research through Explori. The findings also derive from in-depth interviews conducted with 57 trade show directors from 17 different countries.

The research is also supported by The Society of Independent Show Organizers (US).

Myanmar, a jewel in the rough for MICE

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How has Myanmar’s business events landscape changed since the improvement in the country’s political environment?

Many hotels have benefited from the growth in tourism to Myanmar over the past five years. Leisure and group tour segments have seen year-on-year growth while small-size business events were extremely successful between 2012 and 2014. Unfortunately, the latter has seen little activity in the past two years.

Having said that, I see vast unexplored potential in Myanmar as a business events destination because the country is an under-explored gem.

Companies that are looking for that unique and memorable experience will no doubt find themselves returning, while business events provide an extensive range of benefits for the operator as well as the hotel.

Did Myanmar’s role as chairman of ASEAN for 2013-2014 helped in any way in positioning the country better for serious, high-level meetings?

Myanmar’s successful handling of ASEAN’s activities during that time did indeed demonstrate its ability to manage business events. As well as the heads of the 10 member states, the main summit attracted world leaders from the US, China, Japan and India.

In my opinion, (those events) demonstrated that Myanmar is the perfect destination for business events because it offers a largely untouched opportunity for anyone hungry to experience the country’s cultural and adventure opportunities.

What do you think is the potential of Yangon – and Myanmar more broadly – as a business events destination?

With its unique culture, old-world charm and welcoming spirit, Myanmar is a hidden treasure for business events. The country has a great deal going for it as a destination. There are at least 20 international airlines serving the country; anyone from South-east Asia – except Malaysians – enjoy visa-free entry; Yangon has a range of unspoiled, natural tourist spots, making it perfect for incentive groups.

More specifically, experiences can be customised according to the preferences of event participants, ranging from cycling tours and pagoda visits to luxury cruises and tours of elephant sanctuaries. Meanwhile, the central business hub of Naypyidaw boasts several purpose-built exhibition halls, including the Myanmar International Convention Centre.

Yangon remains the overwhelming preference for business events, and the city has a number of convention and exhibition facilities, such as the Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall and the Myanmar Convention Centre.

Millennials give rise to “smart” events

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Augmented reality (AR) has been around for over a decade but industry stakeholders believe it will become more mainstream at future business events as technology continues to evolve.

Donald Lim, chief executive wizard, at Singapore-based Digimagic Communications – a full-fledged creative agency that specialises in the delivery of customised solutions – said AR is still in its infancy stage in business events but he believes it will become mainstream in less than five years.

Lim: high possibility of “smarter” events in the future

Speaking at a Business Events Forum organised by the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers, Lim explained: “AR functionality, like its ability to recognise the real world surroundings in a meetings or exhibitions environment such as floors, walls and ceilings makes augmented content in live meetings more “real” and frees away from the need of markers. This is unlike the past when AR requires users to point their camera at a flat graphic market or a graphic code in order to call out AR content.”

Lim added that this will lead to more smart events in the future where the audience is not just interested in good content, but also expect to be delighted with sensory connections and immersive experiences.

Gracie Geikie, director/principal consultant of Borneo Place, a PCO, opined: “Current conventions and conferences are still very mainstream and do not fully address or recognise that in years to come, millennials will be the main target audience for business events. We need to start the engagement now. The millennial audience wants ‘sparks’ and spontaneous engagement throughout the entire programme, even at tea breaks and lunches. Otherwise, it will just be a boring conference. For millennials, learning should be done in a way that will hold their attention span.”

“However, AR should be engaged in a convention not just to entertain delegates, whatever the age groups may be, but to also enhance effectiveness and to improve delivery,” Geikie pointed out.

Alun Jones, general manager at UBM Malaysian Exhibition Services, also believes that virtual reality and AR will gain popularity in the exhibition space. Speaking on its benefits, he said exhibitors from overseas can create the experience for exhibition visitors in situations where it is not feasible to bring large machinery into the country.

Inaugural Dubai Association Conference to take place next month

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Dubai Association Centre – a joint initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) – will debut the Dubai Association Conference in December, an event that will focus on advancing the association community.

To be held from December 11 to 12 at the DWTC, the event will feature a strong line-up of local speakers including Helal Al Marri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, and Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who will discuss their vision for associations.

An aerial night view of skyscrapers belonging to the Dubai World Trade Centre

In addition, Paul Bennett, chief creative officer of IDEO, will explain how associations can unlock the energy of knowledge to upgrade their offerings, while Greg Bogue, vice president of experience design at Maritz Global Events, will speak about creating engagement through purpose, passion and a picture of the future.

With the number of associations steadily growing across the Middle East, the conference will aim to offer a vital platform for networking and knowledge-sharing, in an effort to further boost progression across industries.

Issam Kazim, CEO of DTCM, said: “Dubai has seen a tremendous rise in the number of associations over the past few years, which is testament to the city’s significance to reaching their target groups based in the region. This rise has resulted in a heightened demand for networking and engagement platforms for associations across different industries.

“Dubai Association Conference is a step towards fostering a collaborative environment for associations to expand and thrive. We also believe that this conference will mutually support Dubai in its journey to becoming the regional hub for associations, and strengthen the city’s positioning as a gateway to the world’s fastest growing economies.”

Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre opens

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Located in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre offers 310 guestrooms comprising 135 superior rooms, 40 executive suites and 135 suites in configurations of one-, two- and three-bedrooms.

The 25-storey property is a 15-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and sits close to the city’s major shopping malls, eateries, entertainment hubs and the new Sabah International Convention Centre.

An executive suite in the hotel

For events and meetings, the hotel’s function room on the rooftop, which also houses the hotel’s gym and swimming pool, features state-of-the-art audio visual equipment and can accommodate up to 40 guests.

Various F&B venues are available, including the all-day dining Maupassant which offers a range of local and international varieties. For those who want to enjoy the sea view, Compass Lounge on the rooftop is the perfect place for a leisurely wine and dine affair.

Of the 27 properties AccorHotels plans to open in Malaysia, adding some 8,400 rooms to its network over the next three years, three developments are in Sabah.

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