The Rotary International Convention to be held in Singapore from May 25-29 this year is projected to welcome around 13,000 attendees, way below the estimation of 25,000 when Singapore won the bid in November 2017.
“Due to a variety of global factors, we are projecting over 13,000 participants will attend our convention. As our event is participant-supported as opposed to a corporate-funded expense, the increase in travel costs means that our registrants must make cost assessments on a personal finance level and prioritise accordingly,” said Shannon Watson, director of meetings and events, Rotary International, when TTGmice enquired about the status of the event.
To encourage sign-ups, organisers are using testimonials that provide members – especially those in the Asia-Pacific region – with an inside look into the experience of the convention. Organisers are also showcasing the variety of experiences Singapore offers.
In comparison to previous years, the 2023 convention in Melbourne had around 14,000 participants, while the 1999 convention in Singapore saw about 19,000 attendees.
Besides the reduced convention size, another surprise is the change in the main venue from Singapore Expo to Marina Bay Sands.
Watson explained: “For us, priority is given to the venue that best aligns with our programme and the needs of our attendees. The Sands Expo and Convention Centre is closer to most of our contracted hotels and offers more flexibility in terms of space, which is a better fit for our programme needs.”
Maritz Global Events is the housing partner managing hotel room blocks for the convention. At press time, many hotel allocations are already sold out, and high hotel rates may deter regional attendance. TTGmice understands that some delegations have also made direct bookings with hotels, or through OTAs.
Should there be a late surge in bookings, accommodation may be in short supply as there may be other business events happening in the city at the same time.
High passenger loads and concomitantly, airfares make travelling to Singapore costly, even for regional delegates. But unlike other major annual exhibitions and rotational congresses, there is no official airline or alliance appointed, with discounted airfares. When queried, national carrier Singapore Airlines deflected the question to Rotary International and Singapore Tourism Board, but both did not address the matter.
However, once in Singapore, various transport options will be available. Delegates will receive transport cards to encourage public transportation usage instead of shuttle buses causing traffic congestion, pollution, and negating environmental efforts.
Singapore usually does not publish data on economic value or contribution from individual business events. Nevertheless, abundant casual labour is required to handle an event of this size. The organisers have engaged local businesses to provide skilled labour and are confident they will be able to provide the necessary quality personnel to support the event.
“As with every convention, we have a diverse team of Rotary International volunteers stationed in the host country to oversee event-related tasks, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for all,” Watson added.
“The Host Organising Committee is working tirelessly to curate interesting programmes outside the meetings for our overseas delegates. They will have an opportunity to enjoy a meal and entertainment with local Rotarians,” said Chew Ghim Bok, chair of the committee. “In addition, ASEAN countries are culturally rich, making pre- or post-holidays an attractive and convenient option.”
On sustainability concerns, Watson said: “From our conventions in both Melbourne and Singapore, two very sustainably-focused cities, we will develop a new baseline from which to grow and improve environmental sustainability for future conventions.”