Singapore reimagines the future of MICE events at PCMA Convening Leaders 2021


Brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board (STB)

Singapore’s continued agility in adapting to contingencies and commitment to reimagining business events with innovation and technology came to the fore with its successful hosting of PCMA Convening Leaders 2021.

The conference was held for the first time outside North America in its 64-year history at Sands Expo and Convention Centre’s hybrid event broadcast studio. This remains the largest physical turnout of close to 300 delegates since MICE pilot events commenced last October.

A trusted destination

The state-of-the-art hybrid event broadcast studio offers broadcast-quality live-streaming capabilities and hologram functionalities (Credit: PCMA/CPJ)

Singapore’s position as a key MICE hub and its pivot towards a safe resumption of business events were key reasons why the city state was selected as the host city for the conference.

Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO, PCMA, emphasised how Singapore was a natural choice; as the country has stayed ahead of the omnichannel events game by birthing innovative solutions such as the Sands Expo and Convention Centre hybrid event broadcast studio to ensure better engagements with a global audience.

With the association’s background in delivering digital experiences, Karamat believes such technologically advanced studios with mixed reality capabilities are necessary moving forward because they offer flexible participation and will support the new format of meetings for a long time to come.

“Singapore has capitalised on its stellar track record in staging prominent world-class events in helping us amass and work with speakers from a regional and global level that will garner international attention and attendance.

The protocols and safety protections that Singapore has implemented – not just to contain the virus – are industry and world-leading. This has enabled PCMA and its members to meet in a very safe environment in Singapore,” noted Karamat.

Unlocking new possibilities through innovation

Koh envisioning the virtual conference as one of hope, inspiration, community and connection at his welcome address (Credit: PCMA/GPJ)

Attending the hybrid conference as a panellist, Prof Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-large and Chair, Lee Kuan Yew Centre of Innovative Cities, also noted how virtual experiences can facilitate international trade activities, as businesses progress toward a new normal at the age of travel restrictions.

“Digitalisation brings people together, it moves beyond boundaries, and it even moves beyond the state.

Using technology to compensate for that inability to travel, I’ve noticed a lot of (hybrid) events can bring in the rock stars of that particular field, when it is normally very hard to get so many to travel to one place,” said Prof Chan.

Echoing a similar sentiment, Dr Edward Koh, Executive Director, Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel, STB, noted that the advent of hybrid events aid in better catering to a larger global audience, while satisfying the consumers’ desire for physical events.

In the face of a changed meetings landscape, Dr Koh added how event organisers have aligned and familiarised themselves with the latest operational regulations, as well as augmented technology (such as touchless solutions and digital implementations) to complement work processes, which “augurs well for the future”.

Destination safety

Onsite Antigen Rapid Test (ART) make for the safe resumption of business events

Singapore’s progress towards the resumption of economic activities comes with clear measures that prioritise public health and safety.

As part of the Event Industry Resilience Roadmap (IRR) which serves to establish a national standard for the implementation of STB’s Safe Business Events (SBE) framework, strict safety management measures were put in place by the organisers, venues and suppliers to ensure utmost safety without compromising too much on the event experience.

At PCMA Convening Leaders 2021, SMMs include pre-event communication, pre-event Antigen Rapid Tests, issuance of TraceTogether tokens to foreign delegates for contact tracing, and a strict cohorting system to minimise inter-mingling between delegates.

Chan said: “I never for a moment thought it was unsafe to come to an event in person, where you would have about 300 people, because of the trust I have as a Singaporean in our competent government and agencies. I was asked to take an Antigen Rapid Test, and it was reassuring to know that every participant in person was taking it.”

Delegate Sophie Mokthari, head of travel, Riot Games Singapore, said the thorough pre-event communications, Antigen Rapid Tests, social distancing and event care packs all made her feel safe about physically attending the conference.

“With so much thought being put into a single event, I hope that the industry can build on this model (for recovery). I look forward to going back to having (in-person) conferences and events on a regular basis,” Mokthari added.

As Singapore looks to redefining business events in a post-pandemic world, Koh concluded: “Our ability to assure delegates, event organisers, and others on what we can do for them in terms of safety, creative experiences and innovative platforms are offerings that have attracted them our way. This will be illustrative of what we can do for other events going forward.”


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