How has the role of the venue changed in the MICE industry over the years?

As the market adapts to shorter business cycles and companies demand for clearer returns on their marketing spend, event organisers have had to deliver more creative, sophisticated and multifaceted events that produce memorable experiences with the desired business impact.

In this new competitive landscape, venues no longer have the luxury of simply being providers of space. We have to continuously innovate to add value by partnering with organisers from the ideation stage to explore what is possible in the venue, and when delivering the services, to offer new levels of customisation or additional perks made possible by the application of new technology.

What unique features does Suntec Singapore’s convention and exhibition facilities offer?

Suntec Singapore is one of the most digitalised centres in the country. The automation of business processes and coordination of the many facilities by our technology suite allows the centre to offer a seamless customised environment that is flexible and easily adaptable to the requirements of the organisers.

The key features of the centre include the largest HD video wall in the world – called The Big Picture – which offers an impactful “grand sense of arrival” when organisers welcome VIPs and guests.

A network of interactive digital screens on all floors offers organisers the ability to design and configure an immersive digital environment for their guests. Meanwhile, our Online Customer Portal provides customers a 24/7 order and review service that complements the service offered by an appointed Experience Manager (EM) who acts as the single point of contact. The EM has the mandate to coordinate all internal resources to deliver the promised outcomes.

What are some of the notable events that have been held at Suntec Singapore?

Since our opening in 1995, we have hosted more than 20,000 events, including high-profile ones such as the APEC 2009 Leaders Week and the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

We have regularly hosted many large consumer events including the COMEX Show, IT Show, the Singapore Book Fair and the Singapore Motorshow as well as lifestyle trade shows such as AsiaDive Expo and Gamestart that bring business communities together.

We have also hosted many large and well-attended international meetings and exhibitions that have taken up the entire centre. These include the IDEM (International Dental Exhibition and Meeting) 2014 and 2016, which had up to 10,000 participants, and the ISMRM (The International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine) 2016 Global Meeting for Clinicians and Scientists that attracted 8,000 doctors and MRI professionals.

What have been some particularly challenging projects?

The most challenging project was the modernisation programme of Suntec Singapore that began in 2012 and was completed in 2013 to enhance the competitiveness of the centre.

The investment of more than S$180 million to modernise and future-proof the centre demanded that the operating team step up to the enormous challenge of proposing the design and functional changes required, and then implementing the plan within the approved budget and time frame.

In the end, the risks and perseverance paid off. In 2014, Suntec Singapore became the first – and remains the only Asian convention centre – to receive the global recognition as the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre. In 2015, Suntec Singapore delivered its best financial performance in 20 years.

With the influx of venues regionally and internationally, how can Singapore stay ahead?

While Singapore will have to continue to leverage its traditional strengths of connectivity, location, safety and efficiency, it needs to stay ahead with attractions that offer unique and memorable experiences.

The use of smart technology in meetings such as mobile apps, virtual meetings, 360-degree recording and holographic projection to facilitate remote speakers will increasingly influence the way in which events and meetings are being conducted.

As organisers grapple with costs, venues that are able to respond with strategic initiatives – such as seamlessly integrating technology within the venue to increase productivity and create opportunities for new services – will be able to better support event organisers, which will, in turn, help make the Singapore MICE industry stronger.