Jenny Salsbury, IMC – Convention Solutions, reports on a week-long gathering of ASEAN region MICE specialists
Singapore’s Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) and partners, gathered in early July with the umbrella organisation of the Asian Federation of Exhibition and Convention Associations (AFECA) for a week full of events involving many of the region’s MICE industry key players and a stellar cast of international speakers.
Some 400 delegates from 26 countries attended a week of events, primarily dedicated to education, training and industry trends, under the Singapore-driven theme of ‘Integration is the new black’.
Following long exchanges between governments of the ASEAN region to remove barriers and integrate trade between the countries within the region, these countries are now attempting to link closer together in the meetings, industry through events and training run by the various member countries’ industry trade organisations.
The start of the week saw a series of Master Classes run by IAEE, certification programmes for the Certification in Exhibition Management (CEM) and Professional Conference Management (PCM), plus PCMA’s Singapore developed programme for training in specialist aspects of the meetings industry leading to the Convention Industry Council’s (CIC) Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) accreditation. This time with a focus on leveraging support for events from Sponsorship.
These masterclasses and professional development courses have been designed to address a perceived lack of formal training for MICE industry professionals within the region.
Recently accredited by the Convention Industry Council (CIC), attendance at these events during the week added ‘clock hours’ to the attendees’ CMP account.
These SACEOS training modules are recognised within the industry as ‘Best in Class’, forming part of professional training at events organised by other AFECA members around Asia and a part of the CIC’s preferred partners programme.
Kicking off the SMF 2015 sessions were Lionel Yeo, CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board, and Janet Tan-Collis, president of SACEOS, who said: “We are able to offer thought-leadership to our participants at a MICE event organised by the industry, for the industry.”
Ambassador-at-Large of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ong Keng Yong gave a keynote address. “Globalisation and economic integration transcending traditional geographical borders and creating new growth opportunities within an increasingly integrated marketplace,” said Ong.
Moderator Nino Gruettke, MD of VNU Exhibitions (Asia Pacific), asked whether the integration was happening fast enough.
“We must find the common ground and standardise it,” Ambassador Ong replied.
Within the MICE industry this has great potential impact on the movement of exhibition goods, taxes and the visas for the movement of people. However, with such a vast difference in wealth and development from the most developed Singapore, whose GDP is more than 24 times the size of the least developed Laos, there is a clear gap in ability to streamline all the services the group wish to in equal stages.
By comparison the range in the European Union is far less broad despite the recent Euro challenges, Germany having 16 times the size of Greece’s GDP. However, the proverbial “elephant in the room” was the impact of China and India’s growth on the ASEAN region, which will affect major events.
China is a major investor in infrastructure development projects – ports, roads, rail, telecoms, water and power supply plants – for their Maritime Silk Road strategy, also known as ‘One Belt, One Road’ and lending for development where Asian Development Bank and IMF have problems.
Other sessions covered integration within the MICE industry, Sustainability, Media and Communications, Technology and Digital strategies, Innovative meetings design to engage the global audience and how the development of China and India would affect the region.
The baton for the next AEC MICE event, ‘AEC+Expo’ in Kuala Lumpur 11-13 November 2015, was picked up by Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) with MACEOS and other Malaysian partners taking ‘Innovations in MICE – the way forward’ as their theme.