Be bold in a scary new world
What will you do if the world you know today ceases to exist? This and other thought-provoking questions were posed when meeting and event planners from around the world gathered in Singapore on 27-28 July for the annual Singapore MICE Forum (SMF) held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands.
The two-day event, themed RE:imagine #EngagE, attracted 475 professionals from 26 countries. Some 78 participants also connected remotely to the event through live online streaming broadcast.
It was the highest attendance in the event’s seven-year history, with about half the participating delegates holding senior management positions, according to event organiser Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS).
This year’s edition focused on engagement, with delegates asked to reflect on how they were engaging their audiences.
There were plenary sessions, as well as smaller breakouts, tailored to professionals of different skillsets and business interests which were all well-received by participants.
The event also focused on creating and building communities, as well as preparing the MICE industry for challenges of the future.
A highlight of SMF 2017 was the leadership programme, Painting the Future: Vision 2050, where meeting planners made bold and dramatic forecasts on MICE business models of the future.
One very progressive group of presenters suggested that access to specialised knowledge would be so readily available as to render attendance at MICE events – seminars, forums and conventions – unnecessary.
Delegates were asked to contemplate a future where the world as the MICE industry knows it ceases to exist. Will MICE planners have to pay for delegates to attend their events? What will future MICE venues look like?
Participants were also challenged to see the delegate no longer as a consumer, but as a resource for new ideas. Thus, would businesses in the future have to pay these delegates to generate new ideas in order for them to remain competitive?
As for venues, they have to be human-focused, designed for the best creature comforts and flexibility – for instance, furnishings that disappear or change at the touch of a button.
One delegate, Anna Lim, events manager at BI Worldwide, felt that the event afforded her a new look at the industry from the ideas contributed by the diverse group of individuals.
She said: “My favourite part was involving the students, the younger generation – gathering ideas and viewpoints from people in different stages of their career – people who are coming out from the polytechnics and those who have been working in the industry. This makes it very compelling and interesting for those of us who have been in the industry for a few years and more. It gives us a fresh perspective to look at what we have been doing. I think this is good!”
SMF organising committee chairman Oscar Cerezales, who is also MCI Asia Pacific’s chief operating officer, said: “We need to create uncontested markets and make competition relevant; create and capture new demand.
“People are obsessed with fine-tuning product and services, but the most powerful tool is business model innovation – but it’s painful and comes with uncertainty.”
SMF 2017 also featured the annual Singapore MICE Challenge, where students – potential MICE industry leaders of the future – competed for places at PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2018 Summit in Nashville.