Amelia Roziman, the new CEO of BESarawak, shows why she's the best woman for the job through her grit and tenacity, and shares plans in motion that will build a bigger and better business events industry in Sarawak
You took on the position of CEO, BESarawak, in August in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic. Why did you agree to take on this challenge, and what are you doing to improve the business events landscape?
I’m passionate about business events and believe that my 15 years of experience can steer the organisation and industry in the best direction especially in today’s circumstances.
When you’ve already gone so far, why not go the furthest you possibly can when the opportunity comes?
We’ve begun leading the changes to transform Sarawak through legacy impact. Through legacy impact, we are able to measure the intangible value of business events in transforming economic and social development.
Our vision is in line with the Sarawak government, where legacy impact is included in their post-Covid development strategy 2030 to regenerate Sarawak in the next 10 years. Besides legacy impact, being tech-savvy and caring for the environment are also two of our main agendas.
Our goal is for Sarawak to be a better place to live, visit and meet and as one of the advanced and developed second-tier destinations in Asia Pacific for the next 10 years and for the new generation to come. We are blessed to have strong government support and dynamic industry partners, who are some of our strongest collaborators sharing the same vision.
Not knowing when the Movement Control Order 3.0 will end is hindering MICE players from making operational plans. What is your advice to the industry?
Be positive and look at the impact of the pandemic as an opportunity to be better, to innovate more ideas and look towards a new future. Be open to collaborations. Working in silos is not a smart strategy anymore because collaborations give you fresh perspectives and new ideas.
Be as creative as you can despite events not being face-to-face. For business events, much of our relationship building comes from face-to-face meetings but since this cannot be done for now, we need to find ways to engage delegates and create a stimulating hybrid environment.
Use this downtime to get certified and qualified. We’ve been helping our industry partners to get internationally certified in digital events among other things. Trends are now suggesting that international planners do choose host destinations based on levels of expertise and professionalism, and how your business adapts to their current needs.
Many destinations that have opened up also initially face a skilled manpower shortage due to retrenchments or have moved outside the industry. Do you see this as a possible issue that will impact the business events industry in Sarawak?
It’s no secret that most industry partners began exploring other opportunities since the pandemic. This is the way to survive.
However, we want to support them as much as we can hence the launch of incentivised packages for business events planners. The value booster for business events planners is a complimentary half-day city tour. For every 100 national and international delegates, 30 will be eligible to enjoy this tour. This strategy will benefit our industry partners to get a slice of the pie. These packages are valid for business events hosted in Sarawak from 2021 until December 2022.
Another support we have been offering to partners is education. Exploring opportunities outside the industry does not mean that we can’t arm ourselves with industry skills and knowledge.
So far, 26 people were awarded the Certified Incentive Specialist de by the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) and we’re halfway through the Digital Event Strategist (DES) course by Professional Convention Management Association.
All of the above is our way of ensuring that when the skies reopen for business events, we have an industry standing there ready to go back into action!
Hybrid events will play a key role in the resumption of national and regional business events. Is Sarawak ready to meet these demands?
Yes, we are. Digitalisation of business events has been on our agenda even before Covid-19 arose. This is also one of Sarawak government’s key priority areas. The initiative has accelerated and we took it as an opportunity to improve our existing business events technology.
Kuching is now a member of Hybrid City Alliance, joining 21 cities around the world including Sydney, Geneva, and Fukuoka. Being part of the Alliance will give us a chance to highlight Kuching as a hybrid business events destination.
In terms of soft and hard infrastructure investment, our government and private sectors have invested in increasing efficiencies and productivity by digitalising services, further upgrading digital connectivity infrastructure and developing more digital talents.
More industry partners in Sarawak are sufficiently equipped to execute physical and hybrid events, with more in the process of getting their DES certification to strengthen their professionalism and services.
What are Sarawak’s strengths to woo organisers to hold their events in the new normal?
Firstly, we have Business Events Planners Incentivised Packages for physical and hybrid events which have flexible guidelines and policies to cater to the needs of the clients with added value support in place.
Secondly, #ResponsibleSarawak initiative is to empower business events planners to organise, and delegates to attend, socially responsible events in Sarawak. Under this initiative, there are many services that we can offer to ensure the success of events such as a Special Advisory Team to help organisers ensure that their events comply with all government pandemic regulations and standard operating procedures. Besides providing guidance, we will furnish items such as non-contact thermometers and hand sanitisers, among others.
Thirdly, BESLegacy initiative is a legacy impact measurement to help planners restructure their business model and maximise their ROI and diversify the outcomes of their events so that it yields impact on the economy, society and environment.