Public consciousness key to MICE industry surviving the new normal

From top left: Shanghai New International Expo Centre’s Michael Krupp; JCIM’s Jessica Chang; ICCA’s Noor Ahmad Hamid; and MadTech Event Service’s David Sun

In addition to abiding by guidelines and SOPs, an individual’s discipline, continuous education, and businesses putting people first are three other key requirements for business events to take place safely today.

As compared to some other countries where mask-wearing has not become the norm, Michael Kruppe, general manager, Shanghai New International Expo Centre, shared that a high majority of Chinese visitors to the venue kept their masks on.

From top left: Shanghai New International Expo Centre’s Michael Krupp; JCIM’s Jessica Chang; ICCA’s Noor Ahmad Hamid; and MadTech Event Service’s David Sun

Kruppe shared his views at IT&CM China’s online panel discussion, Reopening Business Events: What Can We Do Better? on August 5.

To reassure visitors that time spent on the showfloor is safe and secure, Shanghai New International Expo Centre has many measures in place, such as temperature taking, disinfection booths and ID checks.

Kruppe shared: “Our first show on June 27 saw 20,000 visitors, a 50 per cent decrease from last year. Our China Beauty show last week welcomed 160,000 people, 10 per cent less than last year. But people are gaining confidence and getting used to the current situation. If they trust us (to keep them safe), they will want to visit.”

David Sun, managing director, MadTech Event Service, said there are good examples set by the Australian government and venues in communicating the need for public consciousness in terms of health and hygiene.

For instance, the country has constant reminders on billboards regarding mask-wearing and personal hygiene, while ICC Sydney communicates the same throughout its venue.

However, industry leaders say the onus is still on the individual to be as hygienic as possible.

“We need to get people to understand that Covid-19 could possibly be around for years. Think about 9-11. Before that, security checks at airports were more relaxed. Now, (through education and reinforcement) we know that we have to reach the airport at least two hours before flying to go through the processes,” Sun pointed out.

Jessica Chang, managing director, JCIM, added: “We (stakeholders) also need to think about putting people’s safety first, before our own interests.”

Chang related how before Covid-19 became a full-blown pandemic, she advised her clients back in February – CVBs and travel agents – to pause their China campaigns, and change it to expressions of support instead.

When asked if a global set of SOPs would help, all three panellists said it would be a near-impossible task, as the guidelines are dependent on the transmission rate in an individual destination.

Sun brought up Australia as an example, where Covid-19 transmissions have remained relatively low in certain states but high in Victoria, which resulted in state borders remaining shut.

He also pointed to China, where places like Shanghai have reopened but not Tianjin.

Kruppe agreed: “I think this has to be micro-managed at local levels, and would not work country-wide.”

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