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Singapore proves a star performer in events industry

The only constant in Singapore’s meetings and incentives scene is change, observes Sanjay Surana.

This island-city-state is celebrating 200 years this year since its founding, reshaping itself from a slickly oiled, world-class metropolis to a destination that always offers something new.
From fresh venues and infrastructure developments to updated programmes and sweet deals, Singapore doesn’t stop.

It’s an ambitious formula, but one clearly rooted in success. In 2018 Singapore welcomed 2.9 million meetings and incentives visitors, a growth of 12.1 per cent compared with 2017. And, for the fourth year running, in 2019 it topped Cvent’s Top 25 Meetings Destinations in Asia.

The sense of constantly driving forward mirrors the Lion City’s push toward innovation. In 2019, the US behemoth Oracle brought its Oracle OpenWorld to Asia for the first time, holding it in Singapore in March. Singapore has also snapped up the SAP Field Kick-Off Meeting 2020 and 2021, the annual premier regional field sales event and platform to launch the software giant’s business plan.

Penny Lewis, director of client service at Berkshire-based Conference Contacts, points to the Andaz, the JW Marriott Hotel South Beach Singapore, and the newly reopened Raffles. “If you have the budget! Personally, I like the Fullerton on the Bay. It’s a nice hotel with open-air bar areas and rooftops, it’s good from a business perspective because lots of clients’ offices are nearby, there are promenade areas and easy access through the train system.”

A multi-cultural city with many great festivals

Singapore’s two integrated resorts – Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa – will inject S$9 billion (about £5.25 billion) into new infrastructure and attractions. These include a fourth tower at Marina Bay Sands, new hotels at Resorts World, a 15,000-seat entertainment arena and new areas at Universal Studios Singapore. The additions will also include dedicated spaces for meetings and incentives.

A new 338-room resort to open in 2023 in Mandai, in the north of the island near the Singapore Zoo, will see a biophilic design with buildings seamlessly integrated into the surrounding nature. The Banyan Tree-branded property will be inspired by native flora and fauna, while the architecture and interiors will reflect the biodiversity of Mandai.

It will feature a range of function spaces and facilities for meetings and events, while specially curated activities will include behind-the-scenes activities with animals and guided nature walks while promoting environmental awareness. The last 12 months or so has seen a spate of hotel news.

After years in development, the Capitol Kempinski opened in two historic buildings in the Civic and Cultural District in late 2018. Close by, the Raffles reopened in August 2019 after closing two years for an extensive renovation. Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore, previously a luxury serviced-apartment tower, received its hotel licence earlier this year.

It also just launched it a new club lounge experience, with a resident bartender making the rounds every evening offering unlimited house pours, cocktail and a selection of canapés to guest rooms. On Sentosa, a trio of hotels by Far East Hospitality debut this year. The Village and Outpost are already operational, while the Barracks will open by year-end.

Singapore

Singapore seamlessly matches luxury with authentic experiences.

Meetings facilities range from small breakout rooms to the Commune, capacity 500. The biggest splash was undeniably the opening of Jewel, a S$1.7 billion (about £1 billion) glass-and-steel-and-aluminium airport complex designed by Moshe Safdie with shopping, restaurants, a cinema, supermarket and hotel that also features Cloud9 Piazza on its top floor, a space that can host up to 500 people.

Victoria DeLuise, director of venue sourcing at the agency First, which has offices in both London as well as Singapore, has organised events in the Lion City for financial, aerospace, and healthcare clients, says: “English being the primary language is appealing for planners and attendees alike.” She also extols the strong economy, stable political and social structure, and government incentives for inbound events. “I love the variety of scenery available in Singapore. From the skyscrapers in the Central Business District to the tropical landscapes on Sentosa island, there is something suitable for every group.”

In September 2019, Singapore Tourism Board’s Incentives & Rewards (INSPIRE) programme was rolled out for visitors from all over the globe. It offers more than 60 complimentary experiences for qualified meetings and incentives groups visiting Singapore.

View from the agency:

“One of the primary reasons to choose it is that it’s a good global hub,” says Penny Lewis, director, client service at Berkshire-based Conference Contacts.
Lewis has organised events for many clients in Singapore in the past, most recently for a consumer-goods company with about 30 people attending.

The event was based at the Andaz hotel, with some offsite dinners, and a team-building activity, a catamaran cruise with lunch onboard, some water sports and stops at outer islands.
“They wanted something relaxing toward the end of the event,” she adds. Though Singapore is small, Lewis points out that there is a huge variety of choice.

“If you are doing an incentive, you can do everything from going on the Singapore Eye to activities on Sentosa island,” she adds. There are great street markets and the hawker centres, the open-air food courts have the most amazing food, lauded the world over. Lewis also praises the multi-cultural nature of Singapore, observing: “It is a melting pot of nationalities with many great festivals.”

Case study:

Sarah Symington, Senior event manager at NYS

Symington planned an event in Singapore for an engineering client with a welcome dinner, a conference for 100 attendees, an activity and an experiential, offsite dinner at the Singapore Night Safari. She points to the Pan Pacific Hotel for its incredible service and quality of the event spaces and lovely outdoor dining options, and the Marina Bay Sands, “another favourite because it’s a truly iconic building. For a large event space or exhibition area, the Sands Expo and Convention Centre has spaces that can accommodate between 50 – 45,000 delegates! And there are not many hotels in the world which are instantly known by most when you name it, but Raffles is one of them, a perfect hotel for a once-in-a-lifetime incentive trip.”