2020 presented new challenges for the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) industry, as global business travel was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These unique circumstances spurred event organisers to explore new formats, and as part of the Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) approach towards the safe resumption of business events, the Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed) held their first-ever virtual forum in September, and Web in Travel (WiT) Experience Week explored a hybrid format at Marina Bay Sands’ ‘Hybrid Broadcast Studio’ in October.

 

Following the success of these events, Singapore took another step towards resuming large-scale business events with TravelRevive – the first major physical international travel tradeshow in Asia Pacific during COVID-19. Championed by ITB Asia and STB, the event was held at Sands Expo & Convention Centre from 25 – 26 November and attracted nearly 1,000 attendees, including 65 foreign delegates from 14 countries. Virtual interactions through ITB’s virtual event platform also allowed a wider global audience to participate. Ms Katrina Leung, Managing Director, Messe Berlin (Singapore) commented: “TravelRevive is a major stepping stone for our industry’s recovery, while setting a bold new benchmark for hybrid events.”

Safety at every stage of business events

The event also served as a pilot for the country to roll out new frameworks for safe business events, safe itineraries and digital enablers. Speaking at TravelRevive’s opening ceremony, Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry (Singapore) reinforced the focus on attendees’ safety: “[TravelRevive] has incorporated safe management measures such as pre-event antigen testing, crowd density control, cohorting of attendees and the launch of an online diary mobile app to safely arrange meetings between exhibitors and buyers.”

TravelRevive reimagined the entire MICE travel experience by pioneering safe itineraries where delegates could unwind with an array of Singapore’s leisure offerings. This included numerous tours and activities in the days leading up to and during the event. For example, STB worked closely with Pacific Arena and Tradewinds Tours & Travel to establish a framework for developing safe itineraries with authentic and bespoke experiences, while assuring safety through stringent cohorting procedures. Highlights include virtual tours with hands-on activities, private museum visits, and a guided visit to a Kelong (an offshore wooden platform used primarily for fish farming). Reflecting on his experience, Mr Paul Colston, Managing Editor, Mash Media said: “My Vespa tour was such a colourful end to my day following the event. I felt assured and safe throughout my experience and was impressed to see how everything ran so smoothly.”

Forging strong partnerships to boost Singapore’s MICE industry

Demonstrating the confidence of international event organisers in Singapore as a Global-Asia node for MICE and as a launchpad for regional expansion, STB announced three new partnerships at TravelRevive. STB, the Infocomm Media Development Authority and Informa agreed to launch a new international technology event slated for the second half of 2021. STB also signed two separate agreements with Fiera Milano and Messe Munich, which will see them both establish their Southeast Asia Regional Headquarters in Singapore. This will create even more opportunities for high-quality international tradeshows to be held in the region.

 

Mr Andrew Phua, Executive Director, Exhibitions & Conferences, STB said: “As the Global-Asia node for business, Singapore is reimagining the future of business events with rigorous protocols and creative solutions, while supporting our MICE industry as we pivot, adapt and transform.” Building on the success of TravelRevive, Singapore will continue to explore innovative and safe platforms for great minds to converge, connect and collaborate.