Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 27 2013

A First-Person Perspective on Meetings in Singapore

By Michelle Crowley
singapore skyline

You've heard plenty of reasons why you should start considering the Asia-Pacific region when outlining your organization's long-term strategy. As the global manager here at PCMA, I'm certainly a big believer in recognizing the impact that Asia-Pacific planners and suppliers are having and will continue to have in the future. However, until I traveled to Singapore to discuss today's most pressing issues with 100 planners and suppliers at Singapore Tourism Board’s MICE Connect, those beliefs were based on secondhand knowledge.

Now that I'm back, I can tell you with first-hand assurance: it's time for you to go experience it, too.

There's plenty of uncertainty for planners who haven't stepped outside the borders of North America. From language barriers to attendee safety to the entry process, I recognize that planners have many questions about hosting a meeting in a new destination. In Singapore, though, those questions are basically non-existent. Everyone speaks English. It's very easy to get around. My point-of-entry line included waiting for a total of about one minute (which is a much different story than my entry back into the States).

This is an incredibly mature destination - one that's already standing out on the map for plenty of meeting planners. In fact, Singapore has been named the top international meeting city by the Union of International Associations six years in a row. In many ways, Singapore almost feels like a place from the future. Take a look at the stunning three towers of Marina Bay Sands or the massive flower dome at Gardens by the Bay. Better yet, search for a picture of their soccer stadium. It's floating on the bay.

Turning the Pages of the Same Story

While I feel like many of the programs that we lead in destinations outside of North America provide essential education for international planners and suppliers who may not be as accustomed to the standard planning processes, it's a different story in Singapore. The market is very developed, and the challenges meeting professionals are facing are very similar to the hurdles that U.S.-based planners are working to understand.

In an intimate one-day discussion with attendees at MICE Connect, my peers in Singapore wanted to talk about industry trends with Oscar Cerezales, COO of the Asia Pacific MCI Group and a member of the PCMA Board of Directors. They were focused on new technologies and what virtual and hybrid meetings mean for the future of face-to-face in my session about innovative delivery. They tackled the issue of decreasing sponsorship dollars with Mona Simon, Vice President, Partner Relations and Business Development Administration, PCMA. Simply put, we realized that their issues are just like yours.

Understanding the Nuances of a Different Destination

Of course, there are differences, too. The association mindset is different in Singapore. While we're familiar with association staffs of 100 employees, the structure is much smaller in Singapore. With a population of just over 5 million, this isn't surprising. Still, these associations work with professional conference organizers to attract audience members from neighboring Asia-Pacific countries, and that work pays off with many attendees from Japan, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and other key markets.

Forging Relationships to Help PCMA Members

As countries like Singapore continue to attract more meetings business, we're working to create more connections to ensure that all of our members have the necessary resources to plan successful meetings abroad. Rather than leave you searching for the right partners, we're doing the vetting for you. If you're considering taking your meeting to a new market, send me a note - I'd love to hear about your process and offer any tips from my own international experiences.

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