Louder roars in the making

Singapore’s stunning skyline will be seen by more business event travellers should STB’s new marketing efforts, supported by a bigger budget, prove successful
With more MICE marketing budget in Singapore’s pocket, local players are urging greater focus on experiential aspects, tradeshow presence, among others. By Paige Lee Pei Qi

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been given a 35 per cent boost on its destination marketing budget this year, aimed at enhancing Singapore’s MICE appeak. While STB assistant chief executive, Neeta Lachmandas, is unable to provide the exact amount of the investment, she confirms that “a subtstantial sum” will be channelled into brand building and marketing campaigns.

“Prior to 2013 and 2014 we had a bit of a quiet period which we did not have much destination branding for MICE,” Lachmandas said.

With the aim of generating greater awareness through PR activities, advertising and increased participation in tradeshows held in Singapore, STB will be targeting the associations and exhibition and conference event organisers in the US and Europe, and corporate meetings and incentives planners in Asia-Pacific.

STB’s attendance building efforts for tradeshows will be made through advertising towards event delegates.

Although news on the budget increase was announced in April, STB is still unable to share updates on its specific activities. Meanwhile, local trade players who welcome this move are quick to suggest how Singapore could be best marketed to business event clients.

Tour East Group senior vice president for sales and marketing, Judy Lum, told TTGmice: “I hope to see an increase in (STB’s) efforts in hosting familiarisation visits and offering more affordable participation costs for STB-led MICE tradeshows.

“Singapore is a destination that requires MICE planners to come over and experience what we have here and what we can do. We need a presence at tradeshows to retain mind share.”

To market Singapore, Vincent Yap, assistant director, institutional division of MCI Group Asia Pacific, said the brand campaign must “create and evoke a consistent emotional attachment that visitors feel when they think or consider Singapore as a destination”.

“The core message could focus on Singapore’s excellent infrastructure, security, connectivity, multicultural ethnicity, colourful traditions, history, and cuisine,” he added and pointed out that these would help overcome the citystate’s “inherent limitations both from a physical and financial perspective that may increasingly reduce her attractiveness as a MICE destination in South-East Asia”.

Yap elaborated: “Singapore is constrained by its physical size and the concentration of services and amenities in the city centre. There are limited congress venues, attractions or social venues within close proximity that possess enough scalability to host a large congress or meeting.”.

He also urged the creation of a simplifed process for grant applications and greater subsidies for organisers and planners to help ease the financial toll of organising an event.

Theresa Lee, head of MICE at FCm Travel Solutions, would like to see more web-based marketing efforts. She said: “Social media plays a big part in our lives now and it is a trending market today. Singapore should expand its MICE brand through multifaceted campaigns that would include not just PR and advertising or tradeshows, but also more web-based marketing for greater brand awareness.”

For an effective branding strategy, Selina Chavry, regional director, Asia of Pacific World, said efforts “should include the experience here”.

Chavry said: “Despite being a cosmopolitan city, Singapore still possesses the warmth and simplicity of the kampong spirit from the past with diverse races and cultures living together harmoniously. As such, Singapore should be branded as a destination with the best of both worlds – rooted and yet advanced, warm yet progressive, diverse yet integrated.”

She added that there is still “room for improvement” in the level of professionalism in the industry.

“Much effort has been put into attracting travellers to the country, however, we are lacking in delivering the experience. This starts from the professionalism of meeting planners, to destination knowledge and language efficiency of tour guides and transport providers, and the service quality rendered at the frontline,” she remarked.

For now, what is certain is Singapore’s continued strong track record in securing best-in-class exhibitions and conferences. The tourism bureau has made good progress towards its annual target of 10 new association world congresses.

In May, Singapore won the bid to host the 103rd Lions Club International Convention 2020, the country’s largest-ever association congress. The event is expected to contribute S$58 million (US$43 million) in tourism receipts and 20,000 foreign arrivals.

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Selina Chavry
, regional director, Asia of Pacific World points out three must-dos in Singapore

Explore its fascinating history
Singapore may be short in history but the country has succeeded gloriously in its development during its past 50 years of independence. Bringing the group through the transformation of Singapore by visiting Pulau Ubin to experience the simpler life in the 1960s; to Queenstown where the first public houses were built; and then to Pinnacle at Duxton to appreciate the award-wining public housing project, will be a good highlight of the country’s development from a kampong slum to a cosmopolitan city.

Time stands still in Pulau Ubin

Discover lush greenery
Singapore is known as a Garden City. With its well linked park connectors, cycling around the island is a great way to experience the outdoors, be greeted by greeneries in the city, and discover hidden treasures in off-the-beaten track. This can be organised as a leisure or teambuilding activity.

Dive into a cultural wonderland
One of Singapore’s unique strengths is its cultural diversity and religious harmony. Nowhere is this more clearly seen here than how temples, mosques and churches co-exist within the same vicinity, thriving without conflict. Exploring the various ethnic enclaves around the island will be a memorable experience.

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The Black Swan

Decked in black and gold, The Black Swan in a conserved Art Deco building on Cecil Street – which was once a bank – has injected a touch of glamour into Singapore’s Central Business District.

This stylish outfit, a replica of a grand European café and bar, features an elegant interior complete with brass fittings and frosted light fixtures. Stepping through its doors brings one right onto the set of The Great Gatsby.

Reaching up three storeys, The Black Swan can seat up to 130 guests – split between the classy U-shaped granite bar wing and the main dining area. The upper mezzanine level, named The Powder Room, has a separate cocktail lounge that can accommodate an additional 60 pax.

For exclusive gatherings, there is a private 12-seat dining room in the basement, accessible through a concealed entrance, and right into the former bank’s vault.

Dining events can begin with appetisers and small plates like charcuterie cuts, soft-shell crab sliders, or one of the must-haves – baked bone marrow. Main courses here built mostly on premium meats and seafood, and highlights include the duck confit, ribeye steak, and the signature Black Swan Burger. Classic dishes come with a contemporary twist; the chargrilled beef tartare and pan-seared foie gras with yuzu marmalade are worth a try.

All great parties require quality liquids, and The Black Swan seduces with an impressive drink menu that lists a range of handcrafted cocktails, rare spirits and a well-curated wine list that introduces favourites from around the globe, from organic producers and small batch wineries to passionate growers.

The Black Swan welcomes private hires. A minimum spend of S$20,000 (US$14,807) is required.

Visit the www.theblackswan.com.sg or call (65) 8181-3305 for more information.

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