Like most other economic activities, business-to-business (B2B) events such as meetings, conventions, exhibitions and trade shows have been put on hold since March 2020.
With the resumption of economic activities in Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is preparing for the calibrated and safe resumption of B2B events in the coming months. To do so, STB has developed a risk management framework for business events of up to 50 attendees, based on strict safe management measures. STB will trial this framework with two pilot events before gradually scaling up to other events and event organisers (EOs) thereafter.
Under STB’s Safe Business Event Risk Management Framework, EOs must achieve five key outcomes:
- Infection control measures for every stage of an event attendee’s journey (pre- to post- event);
- Limits on crowd density;
- Limits on close contacts between individuals;
- Ensuring a safe and clean environment;
- Preparing for emergencies relating to Covid-19.
The framework was created in consultation with the industry and is aligned with international best practices. It arises from reflections and lessons learnt over the past few months, when businesses in Singapore’s MICE sector conceptualised and reimagined what a safe event could look like.
Apart from adopting best practices in safety, hygiene and sanitisation, Singapore’s MICE businesses have also experimented with innovative digital solutions such as technology to support the creation of virtual and hybrid business events. One such event was the International Dental Exhibition and Meeting (IDEM), which converted its physical trade show and conference into a fully virtual event in June 2020.
Featuring a digital conference and exhibition, it has attracted close to 4,000 participants, with over 300 exhibiting brands from over 50 countries, demonstrating how virtual engagements can augment face-to-face events safely and effectively.
Piloting ‘Hybrid’ Events
Hybrid formats with a mix of face-to-face and virtual interactions are likely to be the norm for business events in the near future. To prepare for this transition, STB’s Safe Business Event Framework will be applied to two potential ‘hybrid’ events, viz., the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Computational Electromagnetics (24 to 26 August 2020) and the Asia Pacific MedTech Virtual Forum 2020 (24 September 2020). Each event will feature a maximum of 50 onsite attendees, in addition to approximately 1,000 attendees participating virtually across both events.
Held in Southeast Asia for the first time, the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Computational Electromagnetics was initially planned for March 2020, but was postponed due to Covid-19 developments. In its new hybrid format, sessions will be streamed online for delegates to attend the conference virtually.
Professor Shen Zhongxiang, General Co-Chair of the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Computational Electromagnetics, said, “We chose to continue with our conference in Singapore because of the country’s strong track record in delivering quality business events. We have complete trust that the Singapore authorities and our venue partner have stringent measures to help us deliver a safe event for our participants.”
To be organised by the Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed),3 plans are underway for their Virtual Forum 2020 to include hybrid elements – a first for the association. Delegates can take part in virtual networking and online discussions, which may be complemented by physical panel discussions and networking events.
The two events were selected as pilots because their organisers have actively engaged event venues as well as STB to examine the safe management measures (SMM) required for a safe event. If these two events proceed smoothly, STB may allow other similar B2B events that can implement the requisite SMMs to resume gradually.
Collaborating with Industry
To provide further guidance for our MICE businesses, STB and Enterprise Singapore (ESG) are collaborating with the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) to formulate an Industry Resilience Roadmap (IRR) – a public-private partnership focused on three strategic objectives: Establishing best-in-class standards for new event safety measures, creating agile business models with a focus on digital capabilities, and developing pathways for professional development in the post Covid-19 world.
The IRR will serve as the ‘roadmap’ to guide Singapore’s EOs as they plan for the safe resumption of other B2B events in Singapore and a sustainable recovery.
Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board, said: “Singapore’s business events sector has shown much resilience during this difficult period, and we are grateful for their innovativeness and adaptability. While Covid-19 has severely disrupted the industry, I am confident that Singapore will lead the way in reimagining what a safe and high-quality business event could look like. Together with our industry, we want to set Singapore apart as the world’s leading destination for safe, trusted and innovative business events.”
Aloysius Arlando, President, SACEOS, said, “Right now, our industry is at a strategic crossroads, and I am heartened that many of our members and industry players have leveraged this crisis as an opportunity to innovate and upskill. We are taking a whole-of- industry approach to establishing safe operating standards and resilient businesses. Together with STB and industry, we have marshalled our collective wisdom and strength to formulate the IRR and ensure Singapore can continue to be competitive; a global Asia node in a Covid- 19-safe world.”