The MICE industry's ability to attract and develop its manpower is key in helping Singapore maintain its position as a leading destination for events and conferences. Intensifying competition from neighbouring countries means that local players must work even harder to differentiate their offerings.

"Singapore’s successful MICE model has also been adopted in other countries. In fact, some countries have already surpassed us. But we are not resting on our laurels," said Mr Lloyd Tan, General Manager at Experia.

He noted that initiatives such as the Singapore Tourism Board's MICE 2020 Roadmap would help the city-state maintain its competitive edge. This blueprint for the industry's development aims to deliver "enriching and personalised experiences" to better connect with MICE visitors.

Yet, companies recognise that the industry needs enough well-trained professionals to execute the MICE 2020 Roadmap. Indeed, one important aspect of the plan focused on MICE industry standards and benchmarks with a view to improving capabilities through training and partnerships.

"The ongoing training and education process reinforces the importance of Singapore playing a leadership role in the region’s growth of the MICE industry," Ms Janet Tan-Collis, President of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) was quoted as saying in the MICE 2020 Roadmap report.

She added: "One key aspect is to establish a talent base and upgrade professionalism of mid-level MICE professionals through a structured path so that in time to come, the experience of having been trained and having worked in Singapore becomes a badge of recognition for the regional MICE professional."

SACEOS offers a range of training and development programmes, which cover topics from conference and event management to sustainability. The training arm of SACEOS was set up in 1990 when the first Professional Exhibition Management (PEM) and Professional Conference Management (PCM) Courses were conducted.

"Courses offered by SACEOS are continuously updated to ensure standards and relevance are met and are taught by industry veterans with many years of industry experience through lectures, discussions and case studies," according to the association's website.

Attracting Talent

MICE companies here also face the challenge of attracting and retaining staff, especially amid a tight labour market. Mr Benedict Soh, Executive Chairman of Kingsmen Creatives, acknowledged that growing his company to an entity with some 1,800 people in 19 cities was no mean feat.

"Keeping good people during the various economic downturns was the most challenging task," he said. "The trade show and event business – where we build ‘dreams’ and ‘castles’ within a few days on site – entails our people sacrificing their personal time, working odd hours and often under pressure."

Despite this, Mr Soh is also convinced that the sector, which exposes participants to a wide variety of industries, offers plenty of opportunities for learning and personal development.