Staying Ahead of the Competition
MICE veteran Edward Liu gives his take on local developments in the industry
While Singapore has emerged as a vibrant player on Asia's events and conferences scene, industry veteran Edward Liu believes that competition from around the region means that the Republic has to keep innovating to stay ahead.
Photo from Edward Liu
In a career that spans almost four decades, Mr Liu has been involved in organising over 350 exhibitions and conferences around the world, garnering numerous industry accolades along the way. He is currently the managing director of Singapore-headquartered convention and exhibition organiser CEMS, and has served on the board of directors of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) from 2002–2007.
Having witnessed the growth of Singapore's MICE industry firsthand, he believes that the sector will continue to prosper as the city-state cements its status as a global business hub.
"With more foreign companies and investments parked in Singapore, more international organisations are also keen to conduct their annual or regional meetings and congresses here," says Mr Liu.
Singapore's strategic location in the Asia Pacific, its excellent infrastructure and industry expertise also bode well for its continued attractiveness as a MICE destination. "In short, Singapore has the fundamentals of an effective ecosystem to support the global MICE industry," he adds.
Yet, with cities in the region like Bangkok, Seoul and Shanghai upping their game, Singapore has to keep evolving to stay ahead. "For instance, while the country has sufficient venues, we need more business and budget hotels to cater to exhibition trade visitors and conference delegates," Mr Liu says. "In view of the relatively high rates of hotel rooms in Singapore, the number of foreign visitors and delegates has dropped in recent years."
In the last two years, though, a number of mid-tier business and budget hotels have been added to the city’s room inventory, offering business visitors even more options available at every price point.
He urges business hotels to cap room rates at affordable levels for overseas visitors who are here to attend conferences. He also calls for the Singapore Government and event organisers to offer event delegates perks such as affordable accommodation, complimentary transportation, sightseeing tours and other “unique” experiences.
"We must learn from the best in class like Berlin and Frankfurt, where the airports and city streets are decked with welcome signs and banners that promote the exhibitions being held in their cities," Mr Liu continues.
Regardless, he is confident that Singapore will remain a strong player in the MICE industry, as it has both the hardware and software to hold its own in the global markets. "Singapore must enhance or re-engineer its ecosystem to develop a smooth and seamless value chain for MICE stakeholders – both local and international."