By Gerardine Donough-Tan

“The MICE and events industry may be down, but we are not out,” said Aloysius Arlando, President of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) at the launch of the Event Industry Resilience Roadmap on October 8. A major collaboration with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), it shows how Singapore tackles crises.

More prescriptive than proscriptive – tough hygiene and social distancing measures notwithstanding – the strategy takes a “whole-of-industry approach to establish safe operating standards, and best practices for hybrid models” as business events are revived.

What are the key features of this blueprint?

The Event Industry Resilience Roadmap (IRR) serves as a valuable “operational guide” to strengthen the industry, enhance workers’ skillsets and generate impactful hybrid events, thereby making Singapore “a safe, trusted and innovative MICE destination again,” said Mr Arlando.

The plan is to make hybrid events commercially viable, re-skill and up-skill the workforce and transform enterprises into competitive and resilient businesses. All this will be done in consultation with the industry, and with support and funding from various government agencies.

IRR 1.0 has two prongs: SG SafeEvent Standard to help event organisers, suppliers and venues implement the industry-led national accreditation program for safe business events and Hybridisation – a 101-page ‘playbook’ outlines solutions for hybrid events. It advises firms how to start on hybridisation, details the essentials and provides a checklist. However, no specific timeframe has been set.

While PCOs and PEOs must be able to switch from physical to digital events, small technical set-ups are helping in this transition. Mr Arlando cited Neo.TM, an AV, light and sound supplier that in six months acquired new skills in broadcasting and digital content production and now has a dedicated studio. Idea Ink, an all-ladies team, pivoted from paper-and-pen illustration to a digitally-enabled visual consultancy specialising in live visual summaries and interactive infographics.

“Business continuity and customer engagement are important to all businesses. RADX 3D VR conference provides a viable meeting option for businesses who might otherwise be unable to launch and showcase their new products and services,” said Rob Chong, RADX Founder and CEO.

He was referring to client Excelpoint Systems’ Smart ConnecTech Asia 2020, originally scheduled for April, which went online in September with RADX helping to create a 3D virtual reality conference and exhibition.

However, to gain traction, companies must not only be agile and ready to implement stringent safe management measures but also accept and adapt to the new order, such as moving from physical to virtual and hybrid events.

Polls commissioned by STB and SACEOS in May and July indicated that 91 per cent of event organisers are looking to subscribe to a hybrid model, but 81 per cent of them said they are still learning and experimenting with this new format.

So, in the next phase, SACEOS will partner the National Trades Union Congress in a newly-formed MICE & Events Capability Building Network, backed by four government agencies. Public and private sector partners will help to “facilitate the capability development” of MICE professionals, including freelancers and self-employed individuals. The network will engage educational institutions to develop suitable training programs.