Singapore’s Event Industry – Going hybrid under a new normal

“Singapore’s meetings and events were put on pause earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But event industry leaders, meeting planners, vendors, venues, and tech innovators across the country were able to quickly shift many of these events from physical to virtual, showcasing the country’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.”                                 

– Singapore Tourism Board, July 2020

Over several decades now, Singapore has been the preferred global destination and hub for hosting business events. With more than 7,000 MNCs operating in the country, world-class infrastructure and experienced event-hosting companies, Singapore has an award-winning events ecosystem that is at the forefront of innovation and sustainability. According to the Annual International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Global Rankings for 2019, Singapore has been ranked as the top Asia-Pacific Meeting City for 18 consecutive years. In 2019, the Global Innovative Index has ranked Singapore as Asia’s most innovative country. Bloomberg’s Innovation Index has also named it the third most innovative nation in 2020.

Impact of the pandemic on Singapore’s Event Industry

Like in all other countries, the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has put a temporary halt on Singapore’s in-person events due to the measures introduced during circuit-breaker. Though the nationwide lockdown lasted all of 2 months, strict enforcement of social distancing and sanitisation norms still holds today. Singapore has generally taken measured steps to re-opening, with Phase 3 only starting in late December 2020. What this means is added pressures and a general sense of uncertainty over how the events industry will cope. 

Despite all this, the industry has adapted remarkably well to the constantly changing environment brought about by the pandemic. In its efforts to bounce back from the impacts of COVID-19,  what helped was Singapore’s vibrant business innovation culture and robust infrastructure. Having a stable political climate and a proven track record in successfully delivering high-quality events also played its part.

Industry professionals were able to come together, find creative digital solutions by utilising virtual event platforms and tools, and seamlessly transition to a new event normal – i.e. hosting online events and meetings. Here are the major differences between physical events and online virtual events.

Image credits: Unsplash

Now that in-person events come with restrictions and safe management measures, the notion of hosting events digitally is becoming less and less of a novel idea. As presented in the results of PCMA COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard surveys, conducted from May 2020 onwards, many were predicting a shift from in-person to digital events. Majority of respondents believed that in 2021, the impact of digital events will be in the medium stage, indicating a reasonably promising growth opportunity. 

Online events offer a range of benefits, namely:

  • Cost-effective and less time consuming to organise, compared to physical events
  • Global coverage, with accessibility and participation through multiple digital channels
  • Events technology, i.e. Virtual events platforms for hosting, virtual events software and tools, virtual session rooms, lounges and booths, virtual fairgrounds, virtual websites and landing pages
  • Real-time analytics and audience engagement facilitating live attendee tracking, participation, and feedback through virtually hosted interactive polls, quizzes, surveys, and Q&A sessions
  • Digital revenue generation through social media branding, event networking & registrations

Virtual Event Ideas that took the Events Industry by storm

As clients successfully transitioned from physical to virtual events during the pandemic, the following online event categories climbed up the popularity charts:

  • Webinars & Live Streaming
  • Virtual Conferences & Town Halls
  • Virtual Career or Job Fairs
  • Virtual Exhibitions & Trade Shows
  • Virtual Marketing Summits 
  • Panel Discussions & Fireside Chats
  • Virtual Product Launches
  • Educational Training & Podcasts
Image credits: Unsplash

Increased usage of Engagement channels and innovative technology

Technology is fast becoming a catalyst for Singapore’s events industry, especially in the current climate of COVID-19. The potential for new technological solutions to streamline and enhance the event planning lifecycle and the overall customer experience is expanding like never before.

According to CVENT SG’s 2020 Event Industry Report – Asia Edition,  digital event channels and engagement strategies popularly used nowadays are as follows:

Image Credits: The Event Industry Report – Asia Edition 2020

The above chart clearly illustrates that messaging and networking is the most preferred channel currently. Although mobile event apps are at a developing stage, there is tremendous scope for growth due to its niche personalized features offering clients user-friendly engagement frameworks and real-time interactive content with notifications – all at the push of a button.

Similarly, cutting edge technologies that event organizers are keen to explore in future are:

Image Credits: The Event Industry Report – Asia Edition 2020

Singapore’s Event Industry Resilience Roadmap

With new variants of the virus being discovered, the pandemic is set to continue lingering on into the new year. The Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions (MICE) and events industry has been quick to react and has been undergoing a revamp. 

On 1st October 2020, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) allowed for event organisers to organise in-person industry events of up to 250 attendees. Together with Enterprise Singapore (ESG), and the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers (SACEOS), an Event Industry Resilience Roadmap (IRR) has been drafted as well. This was applicable to all B2B events and taking all safety standards into consideration, the IRR checklist is as follows:  

Image Credits: Saceous IRR Website

Hybrid Events – the New Normal in the aftermath of COVID-19

The Event IRR highlights the need for agile business models spearheaded by Hybrid Events, the new normal. These events blend the key elements of both in-person and virtual events and feature physical participation along with live virtual engagement. 

The key advantages of hybrid events are:

  • Helps to attract more sponsors and attendees, since virtual online access ensures a wider reach
  • Reduces the overall carbon footprint and ensures a greener, healthier event
  • Attendees not wanting to attend in-person have the option of joining remotely
  • Cost per attendee and travel costs are reduced for the company and participant respectively
  • Drives ROI, as the digital content can be reused and made available on-demand after the event
  • Data-driven analytics, leads and engagement tracking helps in generating valuable insights and conducting post-event follow-ups
  • A much-needed alternative for companies having to deal with travel restrictions and lockdowns in a post-COVID-19 scenario

Latest available data and insights indicate that big-ticket face-to-face events could make a comeback by 2022. There will also likely be an upsurge of low-budget events throughout the year, leaving ample opportunity for growth of hybrid virtual events. The piloting of MICE events in Phase 3 started late last year and is a promising sign of life returning to a semblance of normalcy for those within the industry. Learn how virtual conferences and trade shows have fared amidst the pandemic here.

Image credits: Unsplash

Online Engagement and Digital Solutions – Promising Future ahead for Singapore’s event industry

Event registration websites, live-streaming, event planning and marketing virtual events software, a seamless check-in process and customised interaction at every touchpoint have become the norm for the events industry in Singapore. Agile and innovative online platforms and digital solutions are the future, ensuring that user-friendly engagement mechanisms, collaboration and quality content are always provided. Read what the future holds for virtual events here.

Whether we are looking at it in the short term or beyond 2021, hybrid events are the future. Traditional, live events have greatly diminished due to the COVID-19 social distancing norms, reduced corporate event budgets due to falling revenues, and people generally wary of travel and public gatherings. 

Despite Singapore receiving its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, life is unlikely to return to a level of normality where physical events start thriving again. It would still be the exception, as opposed to the norm. Many expect hybrid events to continue being widely used because of its wider coverage, lower costs and its platform-driven personalized content for event participants.

Integrating processes and tools with marketing automation or CRM systems to create unified virtual events platforms is the need of the hour in a post-COVID-19 world. An innovative plug-and-play business environment backed by technologically sound infrastructure will enable a quicker go-to-market for Singapore’s event organisers. This will help them reinvent their strategies, circumvent possible bottlenecks arising out of the pandemic situation and bring the events industry market back on track.

Delegate PLAY – An immersive virtual platform putting all uncertainty to an end

While the Singapore events industry recovers and prepares itself for the new normal, it is the perfect time to look at best-in-class digital technologies to address client needs and preferences. To this effect, the recently launched Delegate PLAY is a game changer, enabling vendors to seamlessly host events and build connections. Delegate PLAY is a fully immersive virtual environment which allows users to host online conferences and exhibitions under one integrated platform. Event organisers, sponsors and attendees are therefore able to sync up and network in an online virtual environment, transforming a traditionally offline experience into an online format. To read more about it, click here.

Delegate PLAY helps optimise your events ROI by offering innovative features like custom virtual fairgrounds, real-time audience participation and engagement tracking, accessing events on the go from any device, and unlimited content without any geographical restrictions.Planning your virtual event on Delegate PLAY? We would love to help make your virtual event a smashing success. For more information or a demo of Delegate PLAY, feel free to contact us via the form below. We promise to get in touch with you in a jiffy.

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