July 2, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

The Singapore Tourism Board, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) have collaborated to produce a white paper looking at the future of the business events industry and how COVID-19 is forcing its transformation.

The paper looks at the existing value of the industry – it contributed US$1.5 trillion to global GDP in 2017 and supported 26 million jobs around the world – and the impact of the pandemic, before flagging three innovation pillars for the industry going forward and exploring several case studies showing how events are already innovating in the COVID era.

As the report points out, “We have long played an important role in enabling trusted dialogue between governments, businesses, and industries, but the pandemic has forced us to rethink our path forward. How can we sustain what we have spent years building while also evolving with the times?”

It also asserts that “the global business events sector cannot – and likely never will – operate in the exact same way that it had done before 2020”.

Chief Executive of Singapore Tourism Board Keith Tan said the pandemic has emphasised the need for the business events industry to be nimble and to innovate.

“This journey of transformation is not a sprint, but a marathon that extends beyond the pandemic.”

PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat said the success of the industry as it emerged from COVID would be “dependent on our ability to solve the transformational challenges of our audiences”.

“The pandemic forced us to look at how we deliver on what our audiences need and what they want to be successful for the future. While the pandemic has changed the way our audiences engage with business events, it has not altered their desired outcomes from these events.”

Meanwhile UFI Managing Director and CEO Kai Hattendorf flagged the greater willingness of the APAC region to embrace digital solutions, compared to the rest of the world.

“And looking forward, exhibitors in Asia are now much more optimistic about their budgets than they were in summer 2020,” he said.

“We hope that this white paper is useful in showing some of the approaches and opportunities that lie ahead for business events as the fastest of all fast tracks for economic recovery.”

The paper was launched this week at the hybrid Singapore MICE Forum x IBTM Wired at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

You can download the white paper here.