Janet Tan-Collis, CEO of East West Planners and President of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS), was recently conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Singapore Tourism Awards for her contribution to the Singapore MICE industry. Here, she shares her take on how to organise a successful meeting.
Planning meetings while keeping a lid on cost will still be a priority for many companies. Do you have any tips on creating an exciting itinerary in Singapore on a tight budget?
You should start by studying the corporate brief and listening to the client to clearly understand what they want. Focus on elements in the brief that the client thinks is exciting and share your ideas on what you think may work.
In your proposal, always offer more than one suggestion to accommodate a range of costs and help the corporation meet their limited budget. You should also find out what the company has done successfully and unsuccessfully in the past to know what activities suit them.
With experiential meetings being so popular now, can you recommend some unique experiences in Singapore that planners can incorporate into their meetings or incentive travel?
These need to be uniquely Singaporean experiences. Examples include arranging for small groups of delegates to dine at a Singaporean home to sample local food. The organiser could also take over a section of a hawker (food) centre to let delegates try our famous local food.
Another idea is to hold a dragon boat race at dusk, with beers and a BBQ dinner afterwards. A night out on one of our many rooftop bars or restaurants is also a great way to enjoy Singapore's fantastic skyline and cityscape.
How do you make meeting experiences more engaging for clients?
Start by focusing on the purpose of the engagement to get better results. There are some simple ways to get maximum participation. For example, if delegates at the meeting do not know each other, spend five to 10 minutes at the start to allow them to exchange business cards and introduce themselves.
Is "bleisure" (mixing business with leisure) the norm for your delegates? Do you see more of them extending their stay beyond the meeting or exploring more of the city in their free time?
Bleisure is not new. This is something every business delegate does where possible. What is more evident is that whether it is exploring the city or just relaxing, delegates always find it easier to do it with friends and or colleagues.
What are the opportunities and challenges for Singapore's MICE sector?
The MICE sector will continue to grow regardless of the ups and downs along the way, and this will provide industry players with plenty of opportunities.
In terms of challenges, timelines are getting very tight and clients demand very short turnaround times for proposals. Even more challenging is the short time for design delivery and execution. However, we must expect that this is the new norm, and we need to sharpen our skills, talent and creativity to meet these expectations.