Planning out of the box

As demand surges for creative, customised events, Singapore’s event planners are changing the game with innovation.

High personalisation and authentic experiences have trickled in from the leisure sector and taken root in business events, and Singapore’s industry is coming up with increasingly creative solutions that bring out the flavour of the Lion City.

Setting the tone last year, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched the Tour Design Challenge to encourage the development of immersive tours that tell an engaging tale about Singapore which appeals to MICE visitors. For this, tour operators participated in a “Learn-Pitch-Pilot” process comprising industry workshops and site visits. Selected applicants were given grant support to pilot these new tours.

Skyline of Singapore’s CBD

Tours that were successfully launched include Singapore 1920s: Trails of Ah Huat tour by Let’s Go Singapore and the Silicon Valley of Singapore insider tour by UBE Singapore. The latter takes participants through thriving innovation hubs, one-north and JTC Launchpad, and is the debut product of UBE Singapore. The brand was recently established by tour operator Woopa Group in light of the demand for immersive concepts to stimulate the MICE industry.

“UBE is the pioneer of start-up and business innovation tours in Singapore. We aim to offer unique localised experiences to interact with creative start-ups and businesses from various key industries,” said TY Suen, founder & CEO of Woopa Group.

“In the past two years, we have seen existing players and tourist guides start to innovate and develop more unique tour experiences. It has also began to attract even players outside of the industry,” he added.

The Tour Design Challenge is part of STB’s ongoing collaborations with industry players “to catalyse new tours to build stronger destination affinity” with MICE visitors, said Dr Edward Koh, executive director, conventions, meetings & incentive travel, STB.

He added: “Authentic local experiences and customised solutions help to enhance the overall experience of business visitors. They deepen visitors’ engagement with Singapore as an inspiring destination that offers experiential events and authentic local character.”

Event planners are also seeing a parallel trend towards demand for exhibitions and conventions that bring out authentic flavours of Singapore. This May, Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) played host to the Skift Forum Asia held at Equarius Hotel, which featured uniquely Singaporean dishes at live stations and meeting areas designed to resemble traditional kampung huts and coffee shops.

“There is an increase in demand for bespoke events and festival-style conventions with greater elements of entertainment, networking and audience engagement rolled into one, alongside the formal seminars. With more emphasis on creative programming, flexibility, customisation and out-of-the-box ideas are key,” said an RWS spokesperson.

Aloysius Arlando, CEO of SingEx Holdings, claimed that localised event experiences are an instance of “highly customised solutions” that can leave a “significant impact” on attendees. SingEx is well-acquainted with running innovative F&B experiences – it popularised the concept of festivalisation through its Singapore Fintech Festival, where guests enjoyed an all-day, multi-ethnic Asian menu in a space spruced up with sampan boats and a batik motif.

Such localised experiences are examples of “novel highlights” that SingEx is seeking to integrate into its suite of solutions, having revealed earlier this year the possibility of introducing “hawker-style” dining concepts for event organisers.

This will be officially announced in Q4 this year, when Singapore EXPO and MAX Atria, which are operated by SingEx, are slated for a relaunch with a new suite of customisable event solutions. This will be led by “a service partnership approach”, said Arlando, in which SingEx will function as both venue provider and a “full-service concierge” to “co-develop a customised suite of products and services” with clients.

He added: “The bleisure trend is predominantly increasing, (and as) international MICE delegates are taking the opportunity to mix work with leisure while travelling, they too want to explore like a local… being able to offer experiences that embrace local flavours and culture will provide international clients with a deeper impression of Singapore as a unique destination.”

Creative events have ignited so much demand that The Special Event Show will make its Asia debut in RWS this November, converging the top offerings in event conceptualisation, planning and show production to bridge buyers with MICE service providers.

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