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page 36 Conference+Meetings WorldApril 2011REGIONAL FOCUS"Singapore continues to be Asia'sdestination of choice for event organisers,"says Tan. Singex welcomed six million visitors and 600 events last year, includingHerbalife Asia Pacific Extravaganza.Foreign visitors to Singex generatedS$500m for the local economy. "The format of business events is evolvingto derive maximum return on investment,"Tan says. "More concurrent activities arenow held alongside the main convention orexhibition. This has spurred demand formore flexible venue settings.""We are revisiting our business model soas to take advantage of the new dynamics,"says Arlando, who adds that Singex isstaging more fringe events such as danceand musical performances.Integrated ResortsMega tourism projects such as theIntegrated Resorts (IRs) are transforming the MICE landscape in Singapore.Marina Bay Sands, which opened lastJune, boosted capacity with more than120,000sqm of events space, including a 8,000sqm ballroom. Its convention centre has 200 meetingrooms and can hold 45,000 delegates. The S$8bn ($US6.2bn) complex features a2,561-room hotel.Resorts World SentosaSentosa Island hosts the other IntegratedResort, Resorts World Sentosa. Fun andexcitement have not been overused words inregard to Singapore in the past, but RWSprovides an all-action family and incentivetravel destination. It is also home toSoutheast Asia's first Universal Studiostheme park and a range of hotels. It has 26 function rooms and 20 indoorand outdoor events venues.Experience from the Grass RootsLisa Hopkinsis the GM of internatioanlagency Grass Roots' venue sourcing andevent's operation and opened its Singaporeoffice in January 2011. She tells CMW,however, it has been a challenge tointroduce the discipline of venue sourcing. "Event agencies are plentiful in Singapore,it could be argued too plentiful," she says,explaining that getting over the concept ofan agency which works under contract forspecific clients, specialising purely onsourcing their venues and groupaccommodation, required substantial effort. Hopkins says the term 'Strategic MeetingsManagement Programmes', familiar in theUK and USA, is only starting to make itspresence felt in Singapore. "This does bringopportunity, however," she adds. Trader mentality"Like many Asian countries, Singapore hasoperated successfully under a tradermentality," she says. "The country did notfeel the affects of the global financial crisisas keenly as it felt the impact from SARS,for example, and was able to bounce backquickly. Occupancy levels are currentlyaround 90 per cent in hotels." Hopkins says the strong influence ofmultinationals in Singapore is changing thetraditional business model into one nowlooking holistically at savings and additionalvalue. "Our role is changing from not only beingan organisation which, based on our globalhotel spend, can achieve savings forcompanies holding events, but also to onethat works closely with hotel partners toidentify areas where tangible value can beadded," says Hopkins, who hopes tointroduce registration and eventmanagement systems to Singapore.A land where everything worksThe first event Hopkins worked on withSingapore, involved an incentive out of herhome country New Zealand. "Everything ran smoothly from theexperience of Singapore Airlines, the ease ofnavigation through Changi Airport, check-inat the hotel and the subsequent events. Youcould argue it ran too smoothly, becausethat is one of the beauties of Singapore as a destination - everything works. "Singapore has been accused of being toosterile or a little too perfect. I see that asone of its many advantages for internationalorganisers, who can focus more on clients'needs, rather than worrying if the coach willturn up or the meeting room is ready."Organisers in this part of the world rateissues such as safety and security, airlinelinks and infrastructure as their top threecriteria. "Singapore meets all three requirementshead on. It has a zero tolerance limit oncrime, is serviced by one of the mostefficient airports in the world and it boasts a broad meetings and events infrastructure." Hopkins says the introduction of theIntegrated Resorts (not called 'casinos' inSingapore as the casino is only a small partof the overall facility) opened up Singaporeas a serious contender to attract largercorporate events."Our biggest challenge with Singapore isoccupancy," says Hopkins. "Demand ishigh, supply is low and therefore rates haveincreased 10-30 per cent since the start of2011. I would caution hotels to be sensiblein their pricing, because Singapore hasexperienced some very low patches in thelast 10 years, and organisers and buyershave long memories."I would also like to see Singapore reallypush itself in terms of creativity and not beafraid to push the boundaries when it comesto bespoke events. Organisers can helpshake off Singapore's 'sterile' image."Proske sets Singapore meetingsscene for scientists:What:Top investigatory meeting forinternational scientistsLocation :Goodwood Park HotelSingapore, 20-21 June 2010Delegates:50 from the Asia PacificAgency:Proske. Full service: includingmeeting organisation, groundtransportation, venues scouting, meetingsupport, on-site, attendee management,consulting - ensuring efficiency inmeeting planningIn April 2010 Proske's healthcare divisionhad executed another meeting for thesame client with 80 attendees at theGrand Hyatt Singapore.Singapore StatsGM of event management agency Grass Roots' new Singapore officeLisa Hopkins offers some insights into working with this market.Singapore is just above the equator andcan endure raging temperatures duringthe day, while tropical storms are aregular afternoon occurence. Allow for awet weather back up for outdoor events. A 10 per cent service tax is normallyincluded in hotel and restaurant billsSingapore has 42,000 hotel rooms

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