An open affair

One of Singapore’s testbed hybrid events since the country restarted its MICE activity, the Industrial Transformation Asia Pacific 2020 kicked off with a physical opening ceremony as an experimental “bolt-on” feature.

Onsite guests in attendance at the opening ceremony

Hot idea
Launch the pioneer breed of hybrid events, keeping strict hygiene measures and tracing procedures to ensure a safe event for all attendees

Onsite guests in attendance at the opening ceremony

Event brief
Set amid the pandemic, the third edition of the industrial transformation Asia-Pacific 2020 (ITAP) was worlds apart from its predecessors. Although the bulk of the event was held virtually, it had one physical element: the opening ceremony. It was set to be the first physical event in Singapore Expo since Covid-19, and had to be configured to adhere to strict safe management measures.

On the virtual front, ITAP had to serve as a platform for participating businesses to meet objectives such as optimising operations to lower costs, establishing new partnerships, identifying new markets and pivoting towards emerging sectors.

The event was also an opportunity to explore emerging Industry 4.0 solutions in manufacturing technologies, such as cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing.

Event highlights
MAX Atria, an event area at Singapore Expo, was properly cordoned off to host the opening ceremony for 100 pax. In order to prevent bottlenecking, attendees were given staggered different registration time slots.

Attendees also had to check in via SafeEntry, measure their temperature, and follow a routed path up to the event space.

Rather than the breakfast snack counters and coffee stations of the old days, the entire dining experience was governed by a detailed zoning system. Before the event, each attendee had been assigned to a zone of maximum 50 pax and cohort of up to 20 pax. These determined a delegate’s entry and seating in the breakfast holding room as well as at the opening ceremony.

A smaller ballroom served as the holding room, and was split into different sections based on cohort. Every section held five tables, spaced apart, accommodating only five chairs each. Meanwhile, meals from SingEx’s new Kinetic Kitchen was served in individual packaging on biodegradable trays.

Seating for the opening ceremony similarly followed sectioned zones, with no intermingling in between. Chairs were spaced one metre apart, and on stage, speakers kept their masks on unless taking group shots. The event received an opening address and exclusive dialogue session with Singapore’s deputy prime minister Heng Swee Keat, and upon conclusion, attendees were escorted from the plenary ballroom in cohorts.

To test its physical “bolt-on” capabilities, SingEx organised for Singapore-based participants to partake in face-to-face engagement tours to locations that exemplified industrial transformation and deployment concepts for Industry 4.0. These activities were simultaneously streamed online through the event’s integrated platform, ITAP CONNECTED, allowing virtual attendees to interact with the physical delegates.

The rest of the event proceeded online on ITAP CONNECTED, where some 5,000 participants from more than 50 countries picked from a variety bite-sized educational content, as well as accessed personalised recommendations of solutions and products, targeted networking and lead generation opportunities. Exhibitors could also showcase their innovative products, including Industry 4.0 offerings, through online showcase areas and thematic zones.

As Singapore EXPO shifted from its massive physical expertise into a digital-first hybrid format, the team found itself having to reconfigure the “traditional exhibition show floor into a central command centre and studio production space”, described James Boey, executive director, events business, SingEx Exhibitions.

He said: “We needed to deliver a differentiated event experience that could integrate live studio recordings, pre-recorded content, live-streaming from physical locations, as well as real-time engagement amongst event attendees both onsite and online. We needed to ensure that our stakeholders and customers reap the maximum benefits from our new offerings as the event experience in the new normal will be diversely different.”

In order to meet the demands of its stakeholders and clients – especially for regional stakeholders – SingEx consulted them extensively to understand their needs, and to design its content and engagement systems “in a sustainable manner”.

The physical opening ceremony posed another challenge to the team, as it was one of Singapore’s first MICE events to be organised in line with the government’s safe management measures. To meet these strict guidelines, the organising team worked with MAX ATRIA to implement the zoning system, staggered timings, as well as physical reminders and barriers to guide the on-site attendees. Safe Distancing Ambassadors were also deployed to reinforce social distancing of one metre, and to remind delegates to mask up before and after our meals.

Boey shared: “To prepare for this hybrid-event model that will very likely become the default in a Covid-safe world, SingEx acquired new capabilities in several areas. These include safe management protocols, digital solutions, data insights and community engagement. We have been preparing for a blended business environment, thus, the space that we can utilise today has to be designed and used effectively to engage both our digital and physical audience, who would have varying expectations.”

Event Industrial Transformation ASIA-PACIFIC 2020
Organiser SingEx Holdings
Venue MAX Atria, Singapore Expo
Dates October 20-22, 2020
Attendance 100 (physical) and 5,000 (virtual)

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