Alibaba Cloud's Derek Wang believes and understands the opportunities technology can bring about for Singapore's MICE industry. He shares more about how the company plans to lead the industry's digital transformation, as well as improve its bottom lines.
The well-known English idiom “a game of cat and mouse” means constant pursuit, near captures, and repeated escapes.
For a nation of Singapore’s size, Singapore’s success as a tourism destination is a product of constantly striving to stay ahead of the curve. This success extends to large business and corporate events as well, commonly abbreviated as Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions (MICE).
Singapore continues to be a top MICE destination, with the industry playing an important role in driving visitors to the city-state. Tourism receipts from MICE grew by 10 per cent in 2018 and MICE visitors increased by 14 per cent as compared to the same period in 2017.
However, competitors in the region are eager to grow their tourism receipts beyond leisure and sightseeing and into business travel as well, especially when the Asia-Pacific MICE industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6 per cent to reach US$441.1 billion of revenue by 2025.
Not only do these countries have much more space to offer, but lower costs as compared to Singapore. After all, more visitors mean more flights, more stays, more transport, more shopping, more entertainment and more revenue for the country.
A game of tech and MICE
Just like the game of cat and mouse, Singapore’s focus on using technology for its MICE sector will help the country maintain a lead in the region.
For example, artificial intelligence technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) solutions from machine translation, speech-to-text, and text-to-speech can provide faster yet reliable communications regardless of language. This supports a crucial function to any corporate events, especially when delegates are more fluent and comfortable with their native tongue.
Simply visualising data better can be beneficial too. Events traditionally will employ many ushers on the ground to manually assess crowds and capacity. With a few simple sensors around the event site, we can visualise this data much better and in real-time, helping organisers better manage crowding and safety. This is already something in use at airports and large-scale conferences to deliver a better experience overall for visitors.
A rising tide lifts all boats
As another common English saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Providing a better experience for MICE visitors has a knock-on effect for the entire tourism and hospitality industry as a whole.
Organisers will have amassed business data on events. It is not data, but data intelligence that makes a difference in delivering a seamless and convenient, yet still secure and comfortable experience for visitors.
With data intelligence, organisers can partner with the wider hospitality industry to make recommendations beyond just travel and transport advisories and discounts on accommodation. The data can be transformed into actionable insights and create innovations for the industry, such as more personalised services and targeted marketing.
This should not be limited to the hospitality industry only. Restaurants and retail brands can consider partnering with event organisers, hotels and resorts to offer a holistic experience to visitors.
The future is now
This is by no means a futuristic imagination of what technology can do for the industry. The Singapore Tourism Board is already applying cloud technology to consolidate and analyse tourism data, including visitor spending and movement patterns to help the MICE industry evolve and stay ahead of changing consumer demands.
As the global leader in cloud and data intelligence, Alibaba Cloud understands the inherent value technology brings. Using tech, and using it effectively, will be the key for Singapore to stay ahead in the wider hospitality and tourism race beyond just MICE.
After all, technology is the great enabler that has allowed Singapore to stay plugged in and relevant in the global economy. The same successes Singapore has had with technology will be instrumental in keeping Singapore a destination of choice for leisure and business visitors alike.
Derek Wang is the general manager of Alibaba Cloud Singapore, and leads the team across marketing, sales, pre-sales and technique support for the Singapore market. He joined the Alibaba Group in January 2014, and oversaw the global technical team responsible for Alibaba’s cloud solution design and delivery before he took on the current role.