Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

July 28 2014

How To Break Up With A Traditional Site Visit

By Michelle Crowley

When I traveled to Singapore with a group of North American meeting professionals earlier this month, there was one item I made sure was not on our to-do list: a typical site visit.

I didn’t want to see hotels, and I knew my traveling companions felt the same way. It’s no secret that there are incredible properties in Singapore that are designed to accommodate meetings and trade shows. Instead, I wanted to understand what differentiates Singapore — not just from other destinations in Asia, but from cities throughout the world. As more meeting professionals recognize the importance of embracing a global strategy, an international site visit has to do more than show off hotel rooms and meeting space. It needs to deliver a well-rounded view of what type of value the destination can add.

SEE ALSO: What Asia-Pacific Attendees Mean For Your Meeting’s Future

Rather than take a typical tour, our group spent time with the Singapore Urban Development Board to get a glimpse of where the destination stands now — and where it’s going in the future. We also met with the Singapore Tourism Board, the Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau and the Singapore Economic Development Authority. It’s clear that all of these organizations are closely intertwined in efforts to make Singapore a place where meeting planners can count on an infrastructure that will deliver strong attendance numbers.

So what did we learn? A LOT about the vision that Singapore is working to bring to life. The city/country has outlined three strategic plans for five years, 10 years and 40 years, and the Economic Development Board has identified 15 key business sectors that will fuel the future. From healthcare to biomedical sciences to international non-profit organizations and more, the destination has a concrete understanding of what matters to companies in these sectors and how to make doing business in Singapore attractive for companies from around the world.

Remember — you aren’t just looking for a place where your attendees will spend a few days. You’re looking for a destination that is committed to being a place where meeting planners from all types of organizations will achieve success. Singapore demonstrated that commitment with Stuart Ruff, CMP, Director of Meetings, Exhibitions & Events for RIMS (The Risk Management Society), who was part of our group. Rather than just talk about how strong an RIMS event could be in Singapore, our hosts connected Ruff with the Monetary Authority of Singapore so he could gain a broader view of the finance and insurance industry in Singapore. For Lisa Dyson, Director of Conference Services for TESOL, the SECB is offering assistance with her application to Business Events in Singapore (BEiS) Scheme, which provides customized levels of financial support for events.

Whether you’re taking your meeting to a new city in the U.S. or considering hosting your first meeting outside North America, think of that next site visit as a chance to immerse yourself in the inner workings of the destination. What kind of relationships with corporations or international non-profits is the city or country building? How might you be able to leverage those relationships for your own organization? How does the government support meetings and tourism business?

SEE ALSO: 9 Steps To Making International Attendees Feel At Home

Rethinking a site visit isn’t the only big takeaway I brought home from Singapore. Click here to read my thoughts on some of the most compelling insights from the opening keynote address at the 2014 SACEOS MICE Forum.

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