Charting the future

The IFES World Summit is the biggest and most important event for the International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services (IFES) every year. This year, the event which convened in Singapore, was a sell-out

Event brief
A key focus for IFES is the advancement of the industry and continuous development within the association.

“In addition to the content component, an essential part of this annual Summit is the opportunity for IFES members, potential partners and exhibitors from different countries to make contacts and find partners. Incorporating all the suggestions received will take IFES forward into the next 12 months with renewed impetus,” said IFES president Philippe Beille.

Themed Expanding Horizons, the programme comprised the annual general meeting, plenary presentations, breakout sessions, networking and social activities.

“Participants gained a deeper understanding of Asian markets, were inspired by the next generation, galvanised to bring sustainability into all exhibition and event-related business activities, and motivated to incorporate the metaverse, ChatGPT, augmented reality and omni-channel strategy into the exhibitions and events industry,” said IFES executive director Uta Goretzky.

Topics included the state of the Asian exhibition industry after Covid-19; understanding Asian consumers and cultures; and individual country spotlights on Australia, China, India and Singapore/South-east Asia.

Recognising that the younger generation will take the industry forward, IFES ran a campaign targeting them, such that over one-third of this year’s attendees were aged below 35. The newest members were also invited to share the challenges of working abroad, the values most important to them as association members, and contribute ideas they would like implemented.

The IFES talent team suggested ways to inspire and engage young professionals in the workplace.

On technological innovation, speakers explained how generative AI boosts productivity and sparks creativity, and when combined with the metaverse and AR, can enhance face-to-face events to meet the evolving needs of today’s B2B buyers.

The early-morning run/walk around Marina Bay drew some 100 delegates. Moreover, 30 members stayed an extra day for the Green Singapore Tourist Program to experience nature in north-eastern Singapore, biking through coastal forest and clearing plastic waste along the coast of Coney Island and Punggol waterways.

While sustainability featured in presentations and panel discussions, it also posed a challenge: putting principles into practice. IFES made a conscious decision to be as sustainable as possible. Hence, accommodation and most events were concentrated at Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay to avoid shuttling around.

The main convention area also featured reusable pull-up banners and LED back walls, instead of custom-made set pieces; while an event app replaced printed documents. Participants even walked to the Dinner in White – one of the event highlights – at Empress restaurant at the Asian Civilisations Museum one kilometre away.

The cost was a major concern, and organisers wondered how many international delegates would attend the longhaul, more-costly summit. However, the 2023 event became IFES’ first-ever completely sold-out Summit, with high-level delegates attending from around the world.

“We saved costs by locking in the venue and block-booking accommodation early. Aside from Kingsmen who acted on our behalf on the ground in Singapore, 22 other IFES members sponsored lunches, dinners, coffee breaks, photography services, compering and other essentials,” Goretzky shared.

Local suppliers were used for sponsored goodie bags and contents. The summit also received financial support under Singapore Tourism Board’s Business Events in Singapore scheme.

Sarah Chew, executive director at Kingsmen Exhibits, said with the company being an IFES member for almost 20 years, and the only Asian-based Board member located in Singapore, she worked closely with the IFES management team and board members to organise the summit.

She elaborated: “Our contribution included providing local knowledge and ground support, such as venue and accommodation sourcing, connection with local industry stakeholders, content and speakers’ line-up, curating the F&B experience, summit logistics and set-up, and hosting the delegates’ visit to Kingsmen Experience at Changi Business Park.”

Event IFES World Summit 2023
Organiser International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services
Venue Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, Singapore
Dates June 20-24, 2023
Attendance More than 180 pax

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