The Lion City has identified unique experiences as a way to win the hearts of incentive delegates. Â By Paige Lee Pei Qi
After years of furious tourism infrastructure developments, Singapore is now fine-tuning its âsoftwareâ to stand out from intensifying competition from regional destinations.
Yap Chin Siang, assistant chief executive, policy and planning group of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), told TTGmice: âWhile Singaporeâs tourism sector has been experiencing strong growth in the past decade (from 2002 to 2012), the growth was propelled by the introduction of new attractions and marquee events.
âThe backdrop to this has changed today, with intensifying regional competition. Infrastructure developments can be easily replicated, but what makes our attractions stand out among the competition and appeal to increasingly discerning travellers will be the quality of experiences we offer.â
As a result, STB is developing âinnovative tourism experiencesâ with industry partners that can appeal to the target audience, Yap revealed.
An example of such efforts is STBâs Attractions Experience Design Series, launched last year in collaboration with the Workforce Development Agency of Singapore (WDA) and the Association of Singapore Attractions (ASA) to enhance the attraction industryâs capabilities in designing and delivering emotive visitor experiences.
Selina Chavry, Pacific Worldâs regional director for Singapore and Malaysia, said: âSingapore is constantly reinventing itself and looking for new ways to attract travellers, and this forward thinking mentality is what separates it from its competitors.â
She added that DMCs can leverage these innovative themes to sell Singapore creatively to business event planners and owners, especially when packaging incentives that inspire repeat visits.
Several popular attractions in Singapore have made moves to develop creative and innovative experiences for incentive groups.
An example is the River Safari wildlife park, renowned as Asiaâs first river themed wildlife attraction, which is inviting visitors to take a behind-the-scene peek through two new programmes â Fishy Business and Be a Panda Researcher â and have hands-on experiences with its animal residents.
Through Be a Panda Researcher, corporate groups can get into teams and learn more about the parkâs giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, dissect panda poo, examine paw prints and other panda markings to gain insights into how researchers track pandas in the wild, and appreciate the hard work that goes into meeting the pandasâ special dietary needs.
Through Fishy Business, delegates can venture deep into the underbelly of the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit and discover what the aquarists do to keep the animal residents in the pink of health.
While Tour Eastâs group vice president of sales and marketing, Judy Lum, appreciates local attractions âgoing out of their way to make things happenâ, she pointed out that behind-the-scene experiences may only appeal to âcertain demographicsâ and their take-up rate âdepends on what organiser considers fun and wonderfulâ.
Lum added: âTo really have an incentive group feel that the experience was conjured solely for their enjoyment, an attraction buy-out will be a better option.â
Customised programmes for incentive groups are offered at Resorts World Sentosaâs Dolphin Island. Delegates can choose to wade into the waist-deep waters of the lagoon to meet and feed the resident dolphins, or visit the healthcare facility to learn how the cetaceans are being cared for by specialists.
Travel consultant John B Sutherland, who specialises in luxurious and unique programmes for leisure travellers and business event groups, agreed that innovative incentive experiences will help ensure a âunique Singaporeâ, but added that the clientâs budget may limit what can be achieved.
Sutherland said: âWe can always come up with new and extreme ideas for our clients and turn any place into something totally unique, but at the end of the day it is about the budget so it is important to first know your customers and their expectations.
Oh, what a good sport!
The much anticipated S$1.3 billion (US$1 billion) Singapore Sports Hub opened its doors in June this year, boasting a 55,000-seat stadium capped with the worldâs largest free-spanning dome roof.
âThere is no other venue like (the Singapore Sports Hub) â it is a special place for companies to capture a unique experience for attendees,â said Mark Collins, managing director, Singapore Sports Hub.
The 35ha sporting facility houses two 1,000-pax restaurants, a multi-purpose indoor area that can be configured to hold up to 3,000 seats, as well as the Sports Information Resource Centre, which is intended for exhibitions.
According to Collins, the various unique facilities within the Singapore Sports Hub can support or host both business and sports-related events as the areas can be used in many flexible ways depending on the event requirements.
Since its opening, the Singapore Sports Hub has played host to a string of events and conferences such as the Southeast Asia Swimming Championships, the World Club 10s Ruby, the 16th Stadia & Arena 2014 Asia Pacific Conference and the BNP Paribas Womenâs Tennis Association (WTA) Finals Singapore. The latter, held in October, was the first WTA finals to be played in Asia-Pacific. It welcomed tennis stars like Li Na, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
With the rise of the Asian middle class, the total sports industry revenue from the Asia-Pacific region is expected to reach US$27.5 billion in 2015, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.
Amid this backdrop of positive growth, the Singapore Sports Hub will play a critical role in accelerating the development of the sports industry and take it to the next level in Singapore, opined Collins.
One-day Peranakan trail in Singapore
Begin the day with a visit to the Spice Garden located at the original site of the first Botanic Gardens at Fort Canning Park. Stroll through the Spice Garden before heading to the At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, a culinary centre dedicated to promoting pan-Asian cuisine and culinary skills. There, join a cooking class to learn the intricacies of Peranakan cooking, influenced by techniques adopted from Malay and Chinese kitchens.
Next, make your way to the Peranakan Museum on Armenian Street just nearby, for a full cultural immersion into the heritage, culture, language and costume, as well as the important traditions and rituals of the Peranakans. With the finest and most comprehensive collection of Peranakan artefacts in the world, youâll discover all that you need to know about this unique fusion culture.
This Peranakan trail will bring you into the Joo Chiat area of Singapore, where you can absorb the relaxing atmosphere of this part of town, often associated with Peranakan and Eurasian communities.
The olden day opulence and charm of the place remains intact with traditional Peranakan houses like Katong Antique House and Rumah Bebe. Both are great places to pick up a Peranakan outfit, snacks and homeware, and are must-visit establishments that help you learn more about the culture.
Finally, end your Peranakan trail at dinner-time, trying fine Peranakan cuisine at the well known Peranakan Inn on East Coast Road, or Chilli Padi at Joo Chiat Place. Remember to order the fish head assam curry and nasi goreng buah keluak, for a taste of two of the more famous traditional Peranakan dishes.
Itinerary by Singapore Tourism Board
Need to know
Peter Pan flies into Resorts World Sentosa
The magic and wonder of J M Barrieâs timeless classic will be brought to life at Resorts World Sentosa through a blend of stunning visual effects and heartwarming music presented in Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story. The theatrical production will make its Asian debut on November 27 and until January 20 next year.
Tickets are priced from S$58 (US$46). A premium option, which comes with a glass of wine, goes for S$168. Visit www.sistic.com.sg for more details.
Suntec Singapore launches customer portalÂ
Leveraging the exponential power of technology, Suntec Singapore has launched its new customer portal for virtual event planning, allowing MICE planners real-time access to their booking information.
Set to transform the way Suntec Singapore work with its planners, the interactive portal provides organisers a âliveâ dashboard displaying the full details of their bookings including meeting space, furniture, equipment, F&B items, and digital signage allocation.
The portal provides an interactive 2D blueprint for clients to visualise the layout of their spaces. The floor planning tools allow them to move the furniture, audiovisual equipment, and decorative items according to their requirements.
Further to that, the 3D-viewer with 360Âş panning ability promises clients a comprehensive view of the space.
Visitors can preview the customer portal here: http://bit.ly/1tZv52H.
Juice up your day at The Westin Singapore
Staying true to the Westin brandâs promise For a Better You, The Westin Singapore has joined hands with The Juicery to launch a new, dedicated fresh juice and smoothie offering.
Westin Fresh by The Juicery features juices and smoothies designed for guests seeking healthy options while traveling. These delectable mixes are designed to nourish the body and mind with nutrition rich ingredients such as beetroot, aĂ§ai, kale, pomegranate, mint, spinach and blueberries.
Guests can grab one of these refreshing juices and smoothies to kick-start their day at the hotelâs contemporary gourmet deli, Daily Treats on Level 1, and signature interactive dining complex, Seasonal Tastes on Level 32.
The Westin Singapore is among the first hotels to pilot the new menu, which will be featured at all Westin hotels worldwide by early 2015.
Put on your sunglasses and get to work
Shangri-Laâs Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa has joined its sister properties across South-east Asia and Fiji in mixing business with pleasure through a new meeting offering – Sunglasses at Work, a series of unique meeting settings that encourage fun during corporate gatherings.
The hotel on Sentosa island entices meeting planners with three options: Engage with Nature promotes wellness and interaction with the resortâs lush surroundings in between breaks; Explore offer socially responsible teambuilding activities; Excite injects land, sea and air obstacles into a corporate retreat to get delegatesâ adrenaline pumping.
Fun activities on offer include attempting acrobatic stunts eight metres off the ground on The Flying Trapeze, beach volleyball, beach clean-up, harvesting herbs from the resident herb garden to create personalised salads and other dishes, brief sessions of neck, body and foot massages, and sunset beach barbeques.