By Gerardine Donough-Tan

The global pandemic and strict safety measures have severely impacted the F&B and events industry. But resilient companies are adapting and refining operations in anticipation of the eventual pick-up.

The Lo & Behold Group (TLBG), a major hospitality company with 10 properties in Singapore, is adapting and modifying its cultural-culinary repertoire, said Alicia Budihardja, TLBG Assistant Director, Group Sales & Events/Group Operations. She describes how they tweak corporate events.

TLBG properties have different concepts, themes and clientele. “To comply with safety measures, venues can rearrange seating, service procedures and menus – without spoiling their unique offerings,” Ms Budihardja said.

Private club Straits Clan occupies the former New Majestic Hotel in Chinatown. The Attic is a versatile, multi-dimensional space for meetings, seminars and workshops. Safe-distancing requirements have reduced the usual 74-pax theatre-style seating to just 30 pax. The alternative is clusters of five pax per table – the maximum number allowed.

“Capacity at Kin, which offers traditional cooking methods, recipes and ingredients, is down from 60 to 36 pax. This means groups can book exclusive use of the main dining hall. Small, five-member groups can opt for one of three private dining rooms,” she said. Instead of communal servings from large plates, individual portions are now the norm, but the menu remains true to form.

The Warehouse Hotel  – once a godown by the Singapore River – plays up its location and heritage. The Den behind the lobby is both a lounge and event space. It can be tailored to various needs, from formal meetings and product launches to cocktail receptions. Clients have included banks, airlines, luxury brands, FMCG, entertainment, tech, advertising and public relations companies.

“When small-group meetings are permitted, the 30-pax seating will be scaled down to 16 – four pax per table. We’ve had hotel buyouts of 3 days/2 nights for 150 to 300 people, with exclusive use of the 37 guestrooms, Lobby Bar, Po restaurant and The Den,” said Ms Budihardja.

Wow, are there such big spenders? “An IT industry client in 2019 (150 pax) and spirits and wines host in 2018 (300 pax),” she said wistfully.

Tanjong Beach Club on Sentosa island provides a different setting and opportunity. It’s favoured by tech and e-commerce companies for teambuilding and beach events, but a ‘Big Four’ accounting firm also chose it for some “fun and games”.

“We can run the program or engage an event company; it depends on clients’ needs and expectations and complexity of the program,” she said. “Some clients bring in their own partner. Such flexibility will remain post pandemic.”

The coastal-inspired menus are fresh, wholesome and hearty – suitable for cocktail receptions, sit-down set dinners or casual beach barbecues. “We are down to 50 pax from 75 before, but will keep to five pax per table when group events resume,” she said.

“We are receiving corporate event enquiries, mostly for Q4 2020 – thinking optimistically that such events will be allowed by then – and for 2021 as well,” she revealed.