The third edition of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibitors Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) Singapore MICE Forum this year made an urgent call for the industry to face prevalent issues.
BY KRISTIE THONG
Held on July 18-19 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, the event, hosted by SACEOS with the support of the Singapore Tourism Board, saw a programme heavily-themed on topics relevant to current MICE landscape in the country.
Steered by a freshly-appointed EXCO and two industry veterans as full-time SACEOS employees, this year’s forum themed “The New Paradigm” shone the light on crisis management, global changes, customer experience, as well as talent sourcing and development.
micenet ASIA was present at SMF 2013, with vice-president El Kwang moderating the panel discussion on crisis management. The panel comprising members from corporate, agency, vendor and consultancy highlighted a comprehensive action plan for managing crises. Apart from discussing consequences of mismanaging crises and over-communication, the panel also related how post-crisis actions could reinforce trust and retain future MICE business.
SMF 2013 also saw panel discussions on M&A activity, and the dynamic shifts in both the exhibitions and MIC (meetings, incentives, conferences) segment. On the second day, WOW! Academy chief Bentley Williams gave an engaging and interactive two-part session on how MICE professionals could better offer a seamless customer experience.
SACEOS invited ACI HR Solutions CEO Andrew Chan as a speaker on talent, who gave an overview of the industry’s prevalent talent shortage and low retention rates.
SACEOS newly-elected president Janet Tan-Collis, who is also the CEO of East West Planners, said that Singapore is a mature and lively market that unfortunately lacks innovation and talent.
“We’re all running events very well, but Singaporeans have got a lot more,” she told micenet ASIA.
Ms Tan-Collis added that there is a need to connect and engage the youth, and she believed SACEOS to be the stimulus. This led to the decision to host SACEOS’ first MICE Open House for more than 500 tertiary level students from 15 institutions to meet with MICE companies and professionals.“SACEOS needs to excite [students] about the MICE business, raise awareness for the industry’s prospects and career development opportunities. We will nurture and mentor young talent, our next line of MICE leaders for Singapore,” she said.
Moving forward, the association will be increasing its engagement with schools and tertiary-level institutions with career roadshows, experiential workshops, internships, and site-visits to MICE facilities.
SACEOS executive director Lilian Kuan added that they will also be working closely with universities to introduce new and relevant professional courses for MICE professionals.
“These strategies will inject fresh pools of potential MICE talent, while raising career development and professional standards among existing MICE talent.
We have to start tackling the manpower and talent retention crunch.”
Additionally, SACEOS is starting an intensive membership drive to ring in the diverse community of service providers, including companies and individuals in the arts, media, mass communications, information technology, interactive media, construction, lighting contractors, designers, photographers and video production houses. These service providers will qualify for SACEOS associate memberships and give them access to a range of industrial activities such as workshops, training programmes, business information exchange and networking sessions.
“They have long been a part of the industry’s value chain. It is time we start involving them more in our various activities,” Ms Tan-Collis said.