Reimagining association events in the COVID-19 world

MICE-centric webinars at ITB Asia set the tone


ITB Asia – in partnership with K.I.T. Group and Marina Bay Sands – has organised three-days of webinars on how to select a destination and organise a MICE event in the “Covid-19 world”.

Destination image and the financial benefits of organising an event remain important. But overall, the ability to implement strict hygiene measures for participants is becoming crucial, as explained by three speakers in the first day’s session: Jocelyne Mülli, Managing Director, K.I.T.  Group, Ailynn Seah, Vice President of Sales-MICE and Association for Marina Bay Sands and Ilan Geva, CEO, Ilan Geva & Friends.

How can the MICE industry prosper in a Covid-19 world? MICE have been hardest hit during the pandemic, as they normally gather a large number of people together.

“It is a challenge, but with increased connectivity and technology, we can reduce the risks,” says Jocelyne Mülli, Managing Director of K.I.T. Group, one of Europe’s largest Professional Conference Organisers.

Landing a destination for a MICE event will certainly require much more attention to a number of issues, starting with, for example, the ability to actually travel to the destination – that includes the question of visas, the difficulty to navigate through local customs and regulations and more.

Other evaluation points have not fundamentally changed compared to pre-Covid-19 events. Companies need to identify logistics, transportation, capacities, service availability as well as benefits to their image as a destination. However, this is a bigger challenge in Covid-19 times. Hotels or transport capacities for example will determine the level of health & safety. The connection with local authorities will also be crucial in minimising possible friction – between the necessity for strict health measures and the event itself. “The destination will certainly be evaluated for future events, but judging the way they approach the organisation of an event, the flexibility to adapt to a new health environment such as proposing alternative venues or postponing a date, as well as the transparency of communication are determinant,” indicated Mülli.

Singapore has shown its willingness to offer the best conditions for MICE organisers as soon as tourism normalisation can be fully implemented. Marina Bay Sands’ Ailynn Seah demonstrated the kind of events the hotel is able to produce under strict protocol. Hybrid events and 3D hologram technology in a debate or the use of technology in services – such as catering – are now parts of the “normal standards” that the hotel proposes to MICE players.

For Ilan Geva, CEO, Ilan Geva & Friends and an international branding expert, selecting a destination for MICE requires a strategic plan involving public authorities such as NTOS, along with private players. With MICE organisers, they can then highlight the economic and cultural impact of such an event on the destination and also include the entire region; not only the convention venue. Strengths and opportunities versus weaknesses and threats must always stand behind a decision, he explained.

Safe events at Marina Bay Sands

“MICE will be back as professionals from all across the globe need to exchange”, Ailynn Seah, Vice President of Sales-MICE and Association for Marina Bay Sands shares her optimism about the future of tourism. The luxurious property which has long been the venue for ITB Asia offers strict health protocols in order to reassure anybody organising an event. Thermal cameras at entrances, permanent cleaning of all public areas, disinfection of rooms with virus-killing sprays, digital apps to order food even for a buffet formula… All is done to offer the safest possible experience in the hotel, the convention centre and its mall. It’s the perfect example of how Singapore can work under new circumstances.

Marina Bay Sands – Photo: Barnes/Cleverdis

Singapore releases a road map for safe MICE

Ever heard of the IRR? It is the Singapore Tourism Board’s newest acronym for Industry Resilience Roadmap: a joint project by Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS) and Enterprise Singapore (ESG). The IRR aims to strengthen Singapore’s MICE industry by making the city state “the MICE destination” in 2021.

“We aim to set Singapore apart as the world’s leading destination for safe, trusted and innovative MICE events,” said Edward Koh, Executive Director, STB, following a presentation prior to ITB Asia.