With its recently concluded hybrid travel show, Singapore proves it leads the way to safe, trusted and innovative end-to-end visitor journeys
At the end of November, Singapore along with partners ITB Asia, successfully staged TravelRevive, Asia Pacific’s first international travel trade show to take place physically during Covid-19. TTN was invited to this landmark event, attended by close to 1,000 delegates, including foreign delegates from 14 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Starting in July 2020, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) held domestic events under its Safe Business Event (SBE) programme, with applications for events up to 50 people. This was gradually increased to 250 in October 2020 and it is with the success of these earlier events, that TravelRevive took place between November 25 and 26 last year at Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Singapore.
TravelRevive was a successful hybrid trade show to trial the newly developed prototype for safe business events, safe itineraries, and digital enablers in Singapore.
At the opening address, Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Chan Chun Sing, said, “The travel and tourism sector will never be the same again - the future has changed. While the pandemic has permanently changed the way people travel and how events will be conducted, some of these changes were already on the horizon pre-Covid. For example, prior to Covid, forces of digitalisation and sustainability where already driving changes in the travel industry including the Mice industry. It has also added a third, the need for health security over and above physical security and comfort. Therein lies the opportunity for us all.
“Whoever can ensure visitors health security in a faster and better way, will gain a competitive advantage. Singapore recognises this and has every intention to be amongst the leading lights in the area. If we are able to build and operationalise this capability, it will set us apart from the competition. And if any country in the world that has the incentive and drive to get the formula right for re-invention, Singapore must be one of the front runners.
“Unlike many other country’s shutting ourselves from the rest of the work is not an option. We cannot expect to eliminate the risk entirely. Learning how to manage the risk will be a more productive approach and place us in good stead as we never know what and when the next crisis may hit us.”
Since the event, a vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, however, Chan said, “We are not waiting for the vaccine to arrive, nor are we waiting for the Covid-19 pandemic to blow over. Instead, we are establishing the foundations now and getting started on the journey to reinvent and rebuild the industry.”
A number of panel and fireside chats were held during TravelRevive, where global industry leaders convened (some in person, some beamed in on big screens and even holograms!) to discuss the future of Mice travel, hotels and other topics. And the message appeared to be the same: collaboration rather than completion is the future.
Three MoUs were also signed during TravelRevive, two with leading event organisers Messe Munich and Fiere Milano, showing their confidence in Singapore as a Mice hub in the Asia Pacific. The third MoU was signed with STB and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) with B2B event organizer Infora Tech to launch a new international technology in 2021.
Singapore is already planning for 2021 and the first event to be held will be PCMA Convening Leader 2021 from January 11 to 15. This is another hybrid event being held at Marina Bay Sands. This is the first time this event will take place outside of the USA. IBTM Asia Pacific and Gas Tech 2021 are two other secured events for 2021.
STB and their partners, including Changi Airport, have put in place a number of measures for a safe, but seamless journey. Changi Airport Group (CAG), under the auspices of the Alliance for Action on Enabling Safe and Innovative Visitor Experiences, has also developed a working prototype called the Safe Travel Concierge (STC). This is an online tool to help travellers manage their visits by customising a travel checklist of pre-entry requirements to fulfil before entering Singapore.
Prior to our departure to Singapore, a completion of the SG arrival card needed completion three days before arrival along with a Negative PCR test, valid within 72 hours. On arrival, another PCR test pre-booked prior to arrival at Changi International was conducted seamlessly and tests were delivered within a few hours. At the event, a daily Antigen test was conducted before and results delivered in less than 20 minutes.
Not only were the above testing protocols in place at Sands Expo & Convention Centre, but with the use of digital technology they could monitor the crowd density control and the cohorting of attendees. This included thermal scanning cameras and MICE Pods that could count the number of attendees in the area at one given time, together with TraceTogether app, which also ensured contact tracing.
On the exhibition show floor, a mobile online diary meant meetings could be pre-planned with no overlaps. Each exhibitor had a welcome booth, with their branding along with a 9 sqm meeting pod, equipped with protective plexi-glass to ensure safe one-to-one meeting between the buyer and the exhibitor. Lunch break times were staggered to ensure social distancing was adhered to.
TTN, along with two travel agent partners from Dubai, stayed at Marina Bay Sands. This property was quite busy with local staycations along with some of the TravelRevive delegates. They are operating, like all Singapore hotels, restaurants, attractions and other stakeholders: the SG Clean Quality mark, which requires tourism establishment to adhere to stringent levels of hygiene and sanitation as well as Safe Management Measures (SMMs). The TraceTogether is active at all hotels and establishments whereby each and every quest must check in and check out.
WORKING WITH STAKEHOLDERS
Part of Singapore’s phased resumption of leisure travel, STB has been working with industry stakeholders including travel agents in developing safe itineraries.
Safe Itineraries were specially curated for all delegates to offer assurance of safety, but to also allow authentic, bespoke and personalised experiences. These safe itineraries included some virtual experiences from the comfort of your hotel room. We had three of these virtual experiences, which included clay making, making your own perfume and eating like a local, where food was delivered to your room while our guide virtually walked us through the streets of Singapore stopping some of the best local establishments.
The hands-on activities we enjoyed was a Trishaw tour around Little India, walking through China Town, a visit to Sentosa, which included SEA Aquarium – where all safety and social distancing is adhered to with safety ambassadors around to keep an eye on these measures. New dining experiences are now available at SEA Aquarium, where you can dine while watching the magnificent creatures of the sea. Seating is limited, and with social distancing, booking is essential.
Our tour included a look around The Barracks Hotel Sentosa, once a British artillery outpost now restored to beautiful boutique five-star hotel. This was followed by a trip on the cable car to Mount Fabre for a lovely lunch, where the view of Sentosa is fantastic. I’m told by night, this is even more spectacular, but book early to get a seat. To make any golfer envious, a look at Sentosa Golf Club where they have meeting facilities available for your client’s next incentive event. Last, but certainly not the least, a river cruise in an electric powered boat gives a different feel to Singapore’s skyline.
The above is just a taste of some Safe Itineraries that Singapore can offer.
During our four-day trip, I felt secure and safe and would definitely recommend looking into Singapore for your next event in 2021 and beyond.
By Kim Thomson
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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