Sponsored by Singapore Tourism Board
As a way to reach a wide audience in a safe way, while still allowing for in-person attendance, hybrid meetings and trade shows fill a need that industry observers expect to continue indefinitely.
In a February 2021 Global Business Travel Association study, three out of five corporate meeting planners said they expected to hold at least one hybrid meeting in 2021. Two-thirds said they were looking into planning more hybrid events as a result of travel restrictions and other factors that surfaced during the COVID pandemic.
A survey commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) found that 91 percent of event organizers were interested in hybrid events. Not surprisingly, a larger portion of those also said they were still learning about and experimenting with hybrid models.
With the escalating demand for hybrid conferences, trade shows, and meetings large and small, the technology and skills to produce these events have evolved. Among leading MICE destinations, Singapore and its MICE venues have stood at the forefront of this evolution and have demonstrated their superior ability to provide the level of infrastructure, service, and technical support required for a successful hybrid program.
Singapore’s MICE players have wasted no time building a solid platform for hybrid-style events, and MICE groups have embraced that innovative approach. Over the past year, the city has successfully hosted more than 90 hybrid meetings, both large and intimate, that have showcased the capabilities of various venues.
Reimagining MICE Events
A testament to Singapore’s readiness to host in-person events safely as well as reach remote audiences was the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) annual Convening Leaders meeting. Held in January 2021, this was the first time the organization hosted a meeting outside the U.S. in 64 years. About 300 attendees traveled to Singapore for the live event at the Marina Bay Sands, while more than ten times that many logged in from globally based physical hubs during peak times. A meeting highlight was the appearance of PCMA president and CEO Sherrif Karamat as a hologram onstage at one of three new hybrid event studios at the convention facility. Karamat participated in a discussion that connected in-person and remote panelists.
Hi-tech safety features have also been incorporated in events to address onsite attendees’ concerns about COVID. Geo Connect Asia, a new event launched in March 2021, offered an opportunity to test new hybrid meeting formats for a large audience of 1,000 physical visitors and 1,200 remote attendees. The event at the Marina Bay Sands was the first to employ the Safe Event platform, an innovative package of measures developed by several Singapore tech firms. Visitors were asked to download an app and wear a wristband throughout the event. The wristband tracked their movements and temperature during the conference, while the app provided conference updates and alerted attendees if they were violating safe distancing protocols.
Reimagining MICE Venues
In addition to the new hybrid events studios at Marina Bay Sands, other convention and hotel facilities have enhanced their infrastructure for hybrid meetings.
In 2020, Singapore’s largest MICE venue, Singapore EXPO and Max Atria, added studios with a range of broadcasting capabilities, from live streams of keynotes to panel discussions. In October 2020, the facility welcomed the first hybrid edition of trade show Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (ITAP). A small group of industry buyers and suppliers attended in person, with thorough COVID safety protocols in place, while some 5,000 additional delegates from more from 50 countries shared the experience via ITAP Connected, a custom-built, AI-powered platform. While attendees in Singapore participated in physical tours of local businesses, remote attendees joined in via ITAP Connected.
Several Singapore properties have converted idle meeting space into specialized studios equipped to handle the needs of hybrid and virtual meetings. The InterContinental Singapore, for example, recently debuted the Green Room, an innovative, purpose-built virtual meeting venue. The dedicated space include three zones: the custom-fit LED Display Wall; the Green Screen Stage, a 180-degree infinity cove stage equipped with studio lighting and multi-camera setups; and the Event Space, a contemporary setting for up to 30 attendees. The Green Room can be employed for hybrid trade shows, new product launches, even outdoor events or showcases. Remote attendees and presenters can appear alongside live presenters.
In a white paper produced in a partnership involving STB, PCMA, and others, “Reimagining Business Events Through Covid-19 and Beyond,” the need for innovation and development of products such as hybrid formats were emphasized as essential to keep up with shifts in demand by event organizers and their constituents. By embracing innovative technology and prioritizing attendee safety, Singapore is well-positioned to host world-class hybrid events and ensure a safe, productive, and enjoyable experience for attendees, both remote and in person.