The power of M

Meetings can take on meaning and when harnessed properly, unleash power in the communities touched by the organiser, writes Ailynn Seah

The MICE industry has traditionally been measured mainly on the basis of its contributions to the tourism sector, and evaluated almost exclusively in measurable economic benefits.

But there are so many other powerful and meaningful benefits that go beyond dollars and cents to transcend into social impact and even legacies.

Food packing activity at the 2016 Flight Centre Global Gathering – it was the largest CSR event that Flight Centre has ever conducted as part of their annual event

One way is through CSR activation. Increasingly, we find event organisers turning to us to incorporate CSR activities into their programmes in order to deepen engagement with their delegates.

They also look towards us for advice as sustainability is deeply ingrained in our operations.

The Forever Living Global Rally in 2015 and Flight Centre Global Gathering in 2016 were two of the largest events held at Marina Bay Sands where large-scale CSR initiatives were incorporated as part of their programmes for the first time.

US-based multi-level marketing company Forever Living held a five-hour charity packing activity where volunteers, including 70 Marina Bay Sands employees and Forever Living executive staff, packed over 285,000 meals for the underprivileged. Aside from leading this initiative by connecting the organisers with charity partner Rise Against Hunger (previously known as Stop Hunger Now), my colleagues and I also participated as volunteers.

A similar experience was introduced with Australian travel company Flight Centre – we teamed up with the organisers, Rise Against Hunger and the Singapore Tourism Board to organise a food-packing activity with 250 travel agents and 25 Marina Bay Sands staff volunteers. Over 30,000 nutritious meals were packed within a span of 30 minutes, which was later distributed by Food Bank Singapore to the elderly and those with low incomes.

Kerry-Anne Walker, team lead of Flight Centre Global Gathering, had this to say: “Thanks for making the CSR segment a reality and such a success… we have had brilliant feedback and it now looks like it will be a permanent fixture on the agenda for Flight Centre Global Gathering moving forward.”

From left: Forever Living’s Rex Maughan, and MBS’ Ailynn Seah and Kevin Teng at the charity packing activity

Food, too, has always been a great conversation starter and forms an essential part of the delegate experience. It can also serve as a medium for event organisers to tell stories that align with their corporate values, especially in the area of sustainability.

We recently hosted two reputable green events – the Schneider Electric Innovation Summit; as well as the 7th Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development, organised by Global Initiatives in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme. For both events, we worked together with our clients to raise the bar for their corporate sustainability goals by creating ‘earth-friendly’ menus using with organically certified, responsibly produced or locally sourced ingredients.

It is always heartening to work with like-minded clients that share the same vision of creating a positive impact to the communities and the environment.

For me, this creates meaning and puts meaningfulness back into meetings.

That’s the power of M!

Ailynn Seah is the vice president of sales – MIC and association at Marina Bay Sands. She has over 20 years of experience in hospitality sales and marketing, and leads the sales team in securing and executing major international meetings and conferences for Marina Bay Sands. Seah is also certified under the Certified Meeting Professional and Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate programmes.

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