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Volume III 2018

ASSOCIATIONS

New revenue streams; Decoupling in China; Belt & Road opportunities

M&I TOOLKIT

Understanding blockchain; Women in leadership; Community building

BUSINESS FOR GOOD

N E W M O D E L S F O R S U S TA I N A B L E G R O W T H


discover a place as extraordinary As your team THERE’S NOTHING LIKE AUSTRALIA FOR YOUR NEXT BUSINESS EVENT. PLAN NOW, VISIT AUSTRALIA.COM/BUSINESSEVENTS


Surrounded by food and wine producing regions, Adelaide offers a complete package of Australian experiences

try local flavours Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Adelaide Central Markets, established in 1869.

see Kangaroo Island

Rooftop party

Take a 30-minute charter flight to Kangaroo Island and meet the sea lions at Seal Bay Conservation Park.

Why not...

Transform the dining precinct of Vardon Avenue into an exclusive laneway party. East End Cellars and Keito Events can create food stations for a roaming breakfast, or long tables for an alfresco banquet, complete with local wines and live entertainment.

Sip Australian sparkling wine at an exclusive cocktail party at the chic Hennessy rooftop bar, perched atop the Mayfair Hotel.

ADELAIDE

Weather: Mild summer Dec-Feb Cool winter Jun-Sep

Unique Transfers

Hire a fleet of vintage cars and cruise to Cleland Wildlife Park to meet koalas, kangaroos, and other Australian animals.

Access: Adelaide Airport is just 15 minutes from the CBD and has direct flights from China, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Auckland.

Beach cricket TASTE YOUR YEAR

Visit Seppeltsfield winery in the Barossa Valley to taste a Tawny (Port) from the year of your birth straight from the barrel.

Host a match of beach cricket on one of Adelaide’s pristine beaches followed by lunch at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.


CHINA

Global Digital Marketing Summit (GDMS) Shanghai | 6-7 December 2018

HONG KONG

Social Media & PR Conference Hong Kong | 24-25 January 2019

THAILAND

SITE 2019 Global Conference Bangkok | 11-14 January 2019

MALAYSIA

World Tourism Destinations Forum (WTDF) Kuala Lumpur | 4 -5 December 2018

AUSTRALIA

AIME Melbourne | 18-20 February 2019

SINGAPORE

Block Show Asia Singapore | 30 November 2018 - 1 December 2018

Contents Volume III 2018

Max Jantasuwan Founding CEO Events Travel Asia

Selina Sinclair Global Managing Director Pacific World

Andrew Chan CEO ACI HR Solutions

Deanna Varga Director Mayvin Global

Editorial Advisory board members

Ronald Lim Janet Tan-Collis Event Director & Founder President | SACEOS Think Tank Productions CEO | East West Planners

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Neeta Lachmandas Executive Director The Institute of Service Excellence, Singapore Management University

Sumate Sudasna President | Thailand Incentive & Convention Association (TICA) MD | CDM Thailand

Damion Breust CEO Directions Conference & Incentive Management

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Co ntents

08 12 13 16 20

16

Upfront Leaders Gen Next Diversity & Inclusion Case Study

24 Cover Story Purpose-driven business models are required for sustainable growth in the future.

40

40 30 36

46

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Up Close

Serial entrepreneur and community builder, Fabian Pfortmüller, on creating shared experiences.

Taiwan

Kaohsiung gears up to host the 2020 ICCA Congress as Asia’s next rising star for MICE.

Associations Impact

Three years into China’s ‘decoupling’ plan, confusion lingers for associations.

M&I Toolkit

Is the events industry ready to embrace the potential of blockchain technology?

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58

Singapore

A new breed of members’ clubs provide dynamic event spaces and meaningful collaborations.

Japan

New venues cropping up in Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Games, but what legacy will remain?

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E d i t o r ’s Letter

Chasing unicorns

D

Biz Events Asia is the official media partner and member of:

uring a recent visit to Silicon Valley, I discovered the term ‘unicorn’. Coined by Aileen Lee in 2013, a unicorn is a start-up company valued at more than US$1 billion. Lee compared the statistical rarity of such successful ventures to the mythical creature. It’s nothing new in this high-tech wonderland, but I nonetheless feel like Alice after she’s fallen down the rabbit hole. The world’s most successful unicorns include Uber, Didi Chuxing, Airbnb, WeWork, and SpaceX — very different companies that have one common thread: A creative solution to a problem. These companies are driving social and economic progress and, in doing so, are reinventing the future. Their transformational nature is testament to the fact that all businesses, including the business of events, must constantly re-examine their purpose, culture and business models to remain relevant. And while ‘brand purpose’ may be the plat du jour served by many event and marketing agencies, this isn’t simply hot air. Purpose is powerful. We explore this concept, as well as some new business innovation models in our Cover Story (p.24). As event professionals, our purpose is arguably greater than others — we bring people together to exchange knowledge and breed new ideas. New ideas lead to creative solutions, which give rise to unicorns, and have the potential to change the world. In this issue we also sit down with serial entrepreneur and community builder, Fabian Pfortmüller, to discuss the power of shared experience and why event planners need to be more human-centric (p.40). We investigate the potential of blockchain technology for events (p.36), and the impact of the Chinese government’s decoupling plan on both national and international associations (p.30). Thank you for your ongoing support during this year of great change for BEA. I’d like to wish all our readers a happy holiday season and look forward to sharing your stories in 2019.

Lauren Arena, Managing Editor

Managing Editor Lauren Arena lauren@untangledgroup.com CEO | Publisher El Kwang el@untangledgroup.com Creative Director Chua Yi Kiat kiat@untangledgroup.com Contributors Sanjay Surana Gabrielle Goh Jenny Salsbury Kim Benjamin

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Sales & Operations Michelle Lim michellelim@untangledgroup.com

International Media Representatives

Gina Sin gina@untangledgroup.com

China: Mary Yao mary@mhichina.com +86 10 6551 5663 ext 8008

Design & Production PIXO fanix@pixosolutions.com

Dubai: Rahul Sequeira rahul.sequeira@themediavantage.com +971 56 693 1213 South Korea: Alexander Paik apcomm@naver.com +82 10 5042 1337

Biz Events Asia is published by Untangled Pte Ltd 15 Queen Street, Tan Chong Tower, #03-03, Singapore 188537 Email: hello@bizeventsasia.com | Website: www.bizeventsasia.com Tel: +65 9833 1583 Visit us online for regular updates throughout the month: www.bizeventsasia.com Privacy Policy: Untangled is committed to managing your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act. For a copy of our Privacy Policy, please go to www.bizeventsasia.com/privacy Printed in Singapore by Sunrise Printing & Supplies Pte Ltd. Reg no. L002/11/2017 PPS 1785/04/2013 (022963) MCI (P) 118/08/2018

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Up front

Five things we learnt at IMEX America

This year’s edition of IMEX America was the largest show yet, with more than 3,500 exhibitors from 150 countries filling three halls of Las Vegas’ Sands Expo and Convention Center. A record 13,000 participants took part in the event, including more than 3,300 hosted buyers. After three days of meetings, networking, and a series of big announcements, here are five things we learnt…

Greater industry collaboration is the future

The Events Industry Council released its Global Economic Significance of Business Events report. The research found that globally, business events generate more than US$1 trillion in direct spending, matching the consumer electronics sector in size. IMEX Group chairman Ray Bloom said the research puts the industry’s economic contribution into clear perspective and “places it among the world’s leading business markets”.

Three leading industry associations, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), have joined forces to launch the Global MICE Collaborative. With a focus on Asia, Latin America and Africa, this initiative will provide competency-building and certification to develop the respective local workforce, destination consulting, research and advocacy, as well as access to a vibrant community of more than 73,000 global MICE professionals for peer-to-peer learning.

Incentives on the rise in Asia

SITE launches Pacific Chapter

IACC launches wifi ‘speed measuring’ app

SITE has officially entered the Asia Pacific region with the establishment of its first-ever Pacific Chapter. Based in Sydney, the chapter will be led by Directions Conference and Incentive Management CEO, Damion Breust. The announcement comes ahead of the 2019 SITE Global Conference in Bangkok, the event’s first-ever Asia edition.

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Meetings mean BIG business

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Incentive travel budgets are up and the number of qualifiers is increasing, according to a new study released by SITE, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP). Fifty-four per cent of buyers reported an increase in budgets, with corporates spending an average of US$8,151 per person. Asia is well ahead of the average number of qualifiers, with a reported 73 per cent increase (compared to 58 per cent in the US and 67 per cent in EU). With the increasingly widespread use of wearable devices and the Internet of Things, our dependency on wifi will only rise. As such, IACC, the association representing conference centres across the globe, has developed a ‘speed measuring’ app for event planners to assess the wifi capabilities of a particular venue based on the number of expected attendees. The app will be launched in November 2018.

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>

U p f ro nt

IT&CMA demonstrates value in trade shows

>

The 26th IT&CMA trade show in Bangkok, welcomed some 3,000 delegates this year, including more than 500 hosted buyers and media. The three-day event hosted 29 networking functions and 21 knowledge sessions. Paul Ramjugernath, director of D & Y Travel Concepts in South Africa, attended this year’s show and says he finds value in face-to-face meetings. “These trade shows are still relevant because they give you a personal and central place to interact,” he says. “Business is about relationships.”

AIME introduces new exhibitor model Talk2Media, the new organisers of AIME, have overhauled the way exhibitors can take part in the 2019 event. Exhibitors will be presented in sleek new stands developed by Decorative Events & Exhibitions, so they can focus marketing resources and energy on doing business. However, AIME will continue to offer options for those who prefer to design and build their own stand.

Japan

>

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AccorHotels opened it’s 1,000th property in Asia Pacific in October with the launch of Pullman Tokyo Tamachi. AccorHotels COO, upper Southeast and Northeast Asia, Patrick Basset (far left), and CEO APAC, Michael Issenberg, joined local artist collective, WHOLE9 (centre), who created a live mural in the hotel’s rooftop bar during a glamourous launch event. Turn to p.22 to read our review of the Pullman Tokyo Tamachi.

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Up front

After more than five years with MCI, Matthew Smith takes the helm at Destination Asia Singapore as GM following Bob Guy’s retirement.

BI Worldwide Asia Pacific appointed Pooja Lal as GM of its Australia and New Zealand operations.

>

The Singapore Tourism Board and William Reed Business Media, owner of the acclaimed ‘50 Best’ brand, have inked a three-year deal to host a series of awards and events in the Lion City, including the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Singapore is the first city in Asia to host the event, touted as the world’s most important annual gourmet gathering.

> James Rees, executive director at ExCeL London, has been elected as the new ICCA president.

>

> Singapore

>

IBTM World puts tech in focus From November 27 to 29, this year’s trade show will feature a new Exploratory Zone to give delegates the chance to interact with the latest technologies and event solutions. Exhibitors include food printing company, 3DFoodlab; projection mapping wizards, Skullmapping; robotics experts, Robots of London; and pioneering 360/VR company, Surround Vision. There’s also a Tech Bar, where Dahlia+ Agency will run tech-focused and expert-led sessions to enhance technology skills, and review delegates’ websites and social media profiles to ensure they are being used to maximum effect. There will also be bite-sized tech showcases dotted around the show floor.

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M e nt a l He a l t h S up p o r t Netwo rk

Mental health matters

O

n World Mental Health Day (10 October 2018), Biz Events Asia gathered more than 30 industry leaders in Singapore to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace. To highlight the importance of self-care and wellness in our high-demand, high-stress industry, the BEA Mental Health Support Network Event kicked off with a sunrise yoga and pilates session led by Gravity Club trainers, followed by a Vitality breakfast at Swissotel The Stamford’s newly opened SKAI lounge. In line with the event’s wellness objective, the breakfast provided wholesome and nutritious options to help boost energy and combat fatigue. Events Travel Asia founding CEO, Max Jantasuwan, flew in from Bangkok to attend the event and urged business leaders to have open discussions about mental health with their staff. “In Thailand, people are not open about discussing sensitive topics, but we can start by educating people about mental health

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issues and take slow steps to encourage more open conversations,” he says. Jantasuwan also insisted that leaders should be mindful about how to address mistakes, work stress and burnout at work. For Andrew Chan, CEO of ACI HR Solutions (pictured above), the conversation around mental health hits a personal note. “From the male perspective, I think we tend not to talk about our feelings very much. I lost my best friend last year due to mental health issues. Even though we were friends since our teenage years, he was never one to voice his concerns. An event like this is very important because it encourages people to come forward and talk about it,” Chan says. He added: “Having more prominent people as advocates of mental health will help encourage middle management and those with less authority in their company to come forth with their issues. There is no shame in asking for help, and this allows more accessibility to help.”

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Op in i on Leade r

Women in leadership Direct Selling Australia executive director, Gill Stapleton, says it’s OK to ask for help — or a promotion.

A If you are of service to others, value your strengths and what you have to offer, then you are in a position to ask for a promotion.

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s a leader of any organisation, male or female, we need to stay relevant. Disruption and innovation are talked about a lot, but in my mind, it’s about staying relevant to the needs of your customers and employees. This means being responsive and providing flexibility, to attract and retain the best team. It is about providing a culture that fosters growth and leadership, trust and transparency, and one that recognises potential leaders. My career started in teaching and now, as the executive director of Direct Selling Australia, a peak body for an industry that empowers entrepreneurs to run their own business, I lead a small but effective team. It hasn’t always been easy, and I have made some tough decisions along the way, but every decision has been made on the basis of trust and transparency. It’s not easy to ask for rewards or promotion that may appear as self-serving. But we shouldn’t let fear stop us from asking. I once asked the founder of a previous company I worked for if I could be considered for a vacant leadership role in Australia. I was living in the U.K. with my husband and two young children. I was never considered for the role because it was assumed I would not be prepared to relocate. Three months later we arrived, as a family, in Sydney. Perhaps I was being a little self-serving, but I had the skills and capability to do the job. I had nothing to lose by asking, and everything to gain. If you are of service to others, value your strengths and what you have to offer, then you are in a position to ask for a promotion, a salary increase, or new work conditions — whatever you need to thrive. A great employer will recognise this. For many this can be hard, especially when it is not in our nature to do so. But if you have the skills, the

attributes and the desire to serve your company, they will value that. They will respect you for asking, even if, in the first instance, you don’t get the response you were hoping for. I have worked in the direct selling industry for more than 25 years. It is an industry that prides itself on personal development, and I have been privileged to learn from the best. Surrounding myself with champions (male and female) has allowed me to learn from some great people and to seek advice and mentorship. I’ve always sought to work for people who I can learn from. One time I accepted a role for that sole purpose. I valued the leadership lessons he demonstrated and the time he took to pass them onto his team. Direct selling is built on relationships. Being authentic in those relationships has enabled me, as a leader, to ensure that everything I do is aligned to my values of trust and transparency. Being transparent can mean that you need to ask for help. A challenge for many, but particularly when you are a leader. I still need 10 seconds of courage to ask for what I want, but coming from a place of service, knowing that I’m adding value, makes it easier. I’ve had a different career to many, working full-time as a mother in the 1980s, running my direct selling business in the 1990s, and becoming a CEO at 40. That difference has defined me. It’s enabled me to have a wider view, to be agile, and respond to the demands of leadership as a woman. You can do the same. Gillian Stapleton is executive director of Direct Selling Australia (DSA) and is the first woman to hold this position in the association’s 50-year history.

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O p i n i o n G e n e rat ion Ne xt

Dynamic flexibility is the future Slush Singapore’s Anna Ratala says self-care is an essential part of business success.

T As a young businesswoman, I want to re-define what success looks like.

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oday, it’s very cool to be an ‘entrepreneur’ — it’s all about the hustle, and there’s a sense of glamour around a ‘work hard, play hard’ lifestyle. Unfortunately, the reality of starting your own business is not often talked about — it can be highly stressful and very demanding. Along with securing funding and attracting the right people, self-care is an essential to succeed as an entrepreneur. If you don’t take care of yourself, success can be very short-sighted. A lot of entrepreneurs think that they can’t afford to take a day or evening off, that it will show they’re weak and they’re not up to the task. I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs who say things like: “I have not had a holiday in the past two or three years, I’ve just been working so hard”. This is very concerning. We all need rest to keep our batteries charged and our creative juices flowing. Maintaining your own sense of balance is key. Allow yourself a day off every once in a while. Maybe it’s a Saturday; maybe it’s a Wednesday. Maybe it’s just an evening out with your family and friends, or going on a short trip. I’m a huge fan of something called ‘dynamic flexibility’, which means that you work when you need to work, but you take time off when you need to. For example, once a month, I take a weekend getaway. It doesn’t mean that I’m

not going to open my laptop at all. I might work on my flight there, I might work for a couple of hours at my hotel, but I also take time to relax, do some yoga, or just spend time with my family. Some of the best decisions and ideas that I’ve come up with as an entrepreneur have been when I’m away from the usual business environment and buzz. So when I get back to the office, I am mentally present and fully recharged — I’m able to be there for my team. As a young businesswoman, I want to re-define what success looks like. I want to show that successful business leaders are those who take care of themselves and their teams, rather than those that kill themselves with work. I believe success is an attitude. It’s all in your head. As entrepreneurs and young leaders, we need to highlight the importance of mental health by leading by example — if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, how do we expect our teams to do so? I think it’s really important that everyone who is in a position to inspire others is talking about this. We can all play a part and I think it is very important that we all do. Anna Ratala is the Head of Slush Singapore, a leading tech start-up event and global movement, where she channels her passion for start-ups into helping the next generation of entrepreneurs.

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Op in i on I APCO

Association models: Evolve or die MCI Malaysia’s Shook Fung Yap says traditional revenue streams no longer suffice, and diversification is necessary.

I The way forward is to explore building an open community of professional participation.

Biz Events Asia is a strategic media partner of IAPCO

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n today’s fast-changing economic environment, prime challenges faced by Asian associations are no different from their regional and international peers. Most associations are concerned with their ability to continue to meet members’ needs in a meaningful way, and to ensure their own financial stability and sustainability through tough times. Traditional revenue streams will no longer suffice and diversification is not only desirable, but necessary. More and more, associations will do well to take a leaf from the best practices of well-managed and successful private companies. By definition, associations are founded on the membership of like-minded individuals who join to be informed, educated and supported by their professional community. With the digital revolution, online social networking platforms, and the accompanying free-and-fast information available, the notion of a ‘closed membership organisation’ is no longer the only option. It’s time to ‘open up’ and build a more encompassing professional community. Associations need to seek creative and innovative ways to increase membership ‘conversion’ rates. Staying true to your mission, or DNA, is crucial here. Regularly ask yourself: What do members want, and how do they want it? How does the association’s current environment fulfil members’ needs, and what more can be done? What are the boundaries, if any?

To appeal to potential new members, associations need to look into executing conferences, publications and courses in a more engaging and inclusive way for positive (and profitable) outcomes. The ‘one size’ no longer fits all. Associations need to wake up to the fact that members and prospective members have many options and choices now. Some relevant questions for today’s associations are: Do you understand your eco-system? Do you listen to different stakeholders’ needs? Do you know your competition? Do you know your value proposition? Defining value; generating better nondues revenue; embracing technology and capitalising on online events and services; employing the relevant skills and expertise; a sharing and inclusive attitude — all contribute towards deepening the relationship with members. Ultimately, an association must remain relevant to its members at all times. And financial stability and sustainability is a large part of its responsibility to its members. The way forward is to explore building an open community of professional participation and, in keeping up with the changing environment, not to be afraid of embracing and adopting new revenue streams. This article was provided by the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO). Author, Shook Fung Yap, has close to 20 years’ experience as a PCO, and is the managing director of MCI Malaysia.

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18 – 2 0 F E B R UA R Y 2 0 1 9 M E L B O U R N E AU S T R A L I A I T ’ S W O R T H YO U R T I M E

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Div ersi t y & Incl usi o n

Church + State:

Religious inclusion at events Amid the rise of populism, how can meeting planners ensure destinations and venues cater to the diverse spiritual practices of delegates? Sanjay Surana investigates.

Inclusivity starts with government policy... Ubudiah Mosque, located in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia.

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D i v e r s i t y & I nc lusio n

I

n today’s interconnected world, cultures mix, meld, and merge with ease. International meetings mirror that diversity; with delegates from disparate backgrounds and faiths gathering around a common mission, planners increasingly look to embrace diversity and religious sensitivity. But in an era when some locations can be exclusionist, and where geopolitical tensions (including the rise of populism and ethnocentricity) can hamper that goal, is it realistic to expect inclusion to be the norm in all destinations? What can venues and service providers do to be more inclusive? And have acute policy measures like the U.S. travel ban on seven countries had any lasting effects? “Inclusivity starts with government policies and cultural norms,” says David Litteken, senior vice president, Asia Pacific, BI Worldwide. “Singapore, for example, is quite inclusive, when you look at the public holidays it recognises and its emphasis on diversity and inclusion.” Jaime Roseburgh, market leader, Singapore, India, and ASEAN, American Express Meetings & Events, believes Asia is savvy vis-a-vis inclusion. “Considering the cultural diversity within Asia, we find that most countries within the region are inclusive and respectful of diverse event audiences.

The most basic requirement is catering to differing food habits. RAJEEV KOHLI Joint managing director Creative Travel India

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Countries with highly active tourism boards such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand are particularly inclusive.” However, she adds, countries with tighter visa restrictions and stringent processes for event licences, such as Vietnam, can provide challenges. “Mature destinations in Asia are typically very good at providing products and services that cater to audiences with diverse backgrounds, and this includes providing halal options. Most top-tier cities in Asia see the benefit of a highly inclusive approach.” Similarly, Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director at Creative Travel India, says visa restrictions are a major hurdle for many Indian corporate incentive groups. “This does restrict group destination options as one can never be sure who will get rejected and why,” he says. As the outbound Indian market continues to grow, Kohli says the travel industry needs to up its game. “[Improvements can be made in] matching the right product to the profile of the group. Global suppliers need to create products targeted at the Indian market rather than trying to make us fit in their standard moulds.” Nevertheless, when it comes to specific Indian religious requirements, he says most destinations are aware of Hindu and Jainist customs. “The most basic requirement is catering to differing food habits. Today, that is easily handled by most destinations and suppliers who understand what our vegetarianism means, and what constitutes a Jain meal.” A sound option for an event, Litteken feels, is to partner with internationally recognised hotel brands. “We operate programmes with participants coming from across all of Asia. While we find hotels and venues being more flexible with dietary requirements, more can be done in this area, as well as ways for people to comfortably observe their daily spiritual practices.” Roseburgh shares similar sentiments. “We typically see five-star hotels across the region as being highly skilled at responding to shifting needs to improve inclusivity, and it’s important for event planners to seek out suppliers that possess this skillset. The most important thing that venues and service providers can do to increase inclusivity is to understand the needs of the client and audience.” This can be done by knowing the attendee cohort profile to ensure appropriate services for the audience, be it through catering, content, prayer rooms, or even wheelchair accessibility.

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Div ersi t y & Incl usi o n

“Venues are major pieces of infrastructure that employ hundreds of team members and attract millions of people every year,” explains Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney. “They have a responsibility to provide a culture and environment that is diverse and inclusive for every person that walks through the doors. We have halal options across all of our menus. Last year, we became the first convention centre in Australia to receive a certified kosher license. We also have a dedicated nondenominational prayer room that is available for guests at all times.” For a multinational event, communication with all staff from the outset is critical. “We develop a demographic profile that we share with hotels, venues, destination management companies and the like,” says Litteken. “They can see firsthand the unique needs of our group and we can then ask questions in a proactive manner, provide relevant information in advance, and do due diligence.” “Diversity and inclusion begins with the culture of the team at a venue,” notes Donaghy. “If we provide the right culture for our team members where they feel welcome, safe and secure at work, this will result in positive outcomes for the delivery of successful events.” Asia is recalibrating to the shifting demands of the market. Earlier this year, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) held its third annual Halal Restaurant Week, showcasing 130 restaurants across the country. “Korea has been developing policies, tourism products, and infrastructure to address Muslim tourists’ faith-based needs while travelling across the country,” explains Melanie Adan, KTO marketing manager, MICE planning & management team. “In Korea, we currently have a total of 184 prayer rooms located in major international airports, convention centres like COEX in Seoul, shopping malls, and top attractions like K-Style Hub, Lotte World, Nami Island, Everland, and more. Most five-star hotels with prayer rooms also have a prayer timetable, Quran, prayer mat, Qiblah, and compass,” Adan adds.

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Mature destinations in Asia are typically very good at providing products and services that cater to audiences with diverse backgrounds. JAIME ROSEBURGH Market leader Singapore, India, and ASEAN, AMEX Meetings & Events

Multicultural... Many hotels and venues across Asia Pacific now provide dedicated prayer rooms (above) and halal and

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D i v e r s i t y & I nc lusio n

Korea has welcomed Muslim groups such as the Millionaire Club Indonesia incentive in early 2017, when 1,150 delegates from the multi-level marketing company enjoyed winter activities and a gala dinner. Just as policy plays a major role in the effectiveness of inclusion, it can conversely act as a deterrent. Last year, Harvey Davidson, treasurer of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA), told Skift that he felt President Trump’s travel ban led delegates of WFTGA’s convention (held in Tehran in 2017) to vote for the 2019 convention to be in Tbilisi instead of New York City. And aftershocks of the ban persist. “The data suggests that the ripple effects are still being felt,” says Litteken. “In our Asia-Pacific offices, we do not have many clients desiring to travel to the United States these days. Most of our clients are looking to stay here in Asia or venture to Europe.”

We do not have many clients desiring to travel to the United States these days. DAVID LITTEKEN Senior vice president Asia Pacific BI Worldwide vegetarian options (top) to cater to all delegates.

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Ca se St udy M ax Fact o r i n Si ng a p o r e

Max Factor makes its mark

BI Worldwide brings the cosmetics brand to life in Singapore. By Lauren Arena

All smiles... Engagement hit record numbers as the brand sought to re-create its image with a ‘feel good’ pop-up event at ION Orchard.

A

fter conducting market research across Southeast Asia, cosmetics brand Max Factor identified a need to reposition its brand. In Singapore, research showed that makeup is seen as non-essential, or even an obligation. After reaching a certain age, many women simply don’t find the value in applying makeup — not an ideal state of affairs for a cosmetics company. So less than 12 months after its market debut in Singapore, Max Factor enlisted event agency BI Worldwide to help reshape and reinvigorate its global ‘You X Max Factor’ campaign for Singaporean women.

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Ideation

To make the global ‘You X Max Factor’ concept locally relevant, BI Worldwide had to demonstrate how Max Factor’s long-wear, multi-use products could transform women from the inside out — and convince the target audience that applying makeup is not an exercise in vanity, but a means of demonstrating inner beauty. To answer the brief, the team created a customer-centric activation at ION Orchard, a high-end shopping mall in Singapore’s famed Orchard Road retail precinct. The agency enlisted a number of key opinion leaders (KOLs), including a mother, cancer survivor, and business entrepreneur, to share

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C a s e S t ud y M ax F act o r i n S in gapor e

Lessons learnt Enlist a PR agency early in the event planning process as a creative partner Utilise KOLs to amplify your message Personalisation and customisation boosts engagement and social buzz

their stories during the event, illustrating how different women relate to the concept of beauty and what they do to feel good about themselves. “We elevated the debate by not making it about a product, a new colour or anything that is a trend, but digging into the brand’s core message: bringing your inner beauty out,” says Marine Debatte, head of events at BI Worldwide APJ/ China. “As a repositioning event, we were here to showcase the new story of Max Factor and how relevant it is for consumers. Touching people’s hearts was at the core of the message.”

Execution

To actively engage guests, BI Worldwide created a series of hands-on, highly personalised activities. “During the event, we made a point of getting the KOLs, makeup artists and guests involved in the message — to write their thoughts on how they feel beautiful, have their name engraved on a Max Factor lipstick, get their #OOTD [outfit of the day] sketched by our live fashion illustrator, or their very own Magnum ice cream made to their taste,” Debatte explains. But executing an event in one of Singapore’s most popular shopping malls is no easy task. The team had to meet strict safety regulations and overcome a number of logistical challenges (the event’s pop-up nature meant there was no adjoining ‘backof-house’ area for catering prep). “Being in such a public space brings many constraints, a major one being the overnight set-up,” Debatte says.

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Personal touch... Photo booths, personalised sketches and an interactive session with KOLs.

“We only had eight hours to make it happen (deliveries could only be made between 11pm and 7am) and only one lift serviced deliveries for the entire mall — that’s hundreds of restaurants and shops.” To ramp up media coverage and create buzz on social media, Debatte’s team ensured all elements of the event were Instagramworthy — this included photo-friendly invitations with fresh flowers, an onsite photo booth with foam props and gold confetti, and personalised sketches, lipsticks and ice cream. BI Worldwide also worked with a PR agency to enhance the reach of the B2C event. “Post event, the campaign kept going online and our client even asked one of our KOL ‘muses’ to continue representing the brand in Singapore. The media coverage was great and all goals were achieved big time,” she says. While the average event ‘no show’ rate is between 30 and 35 per cent, Debatte says only four per cent of RSVPs did not attend the Max Factor event. Overall, the live activation generated SG$1,194,000 in PR value.

Being in such a public space brings many constraints, a major one being the overnight set-up. MARINE DEBATTE Head of events BI Worldwide APJ/ China

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Ho te l Revi ew Pullm a n To k yo Ta m a c hi

Pullman Tokyo Tamachi

In a city as diverse and imposing as Tokyo, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, but this new hotel knows how to shine. By Lauren Arena

H

ave you ever wondered what it’s like to be the very first person to stay in a hotel? To be the first person to sleep in the bed, wear the bathrobe, and — dare I say it - use the toilet? As someone who travels often for work (like many event professionals) these are questions I’ve often pondered — but after a recent stay at the Pullman Tokyo Tamachi, I needn’t ponder anymore. The doors opened in October 2018, introducing to Japan its very first Pullman brand hotel. In a reflection of Japanese culture, the design blends modern aesthetics with traditional handicrafts; combining bold lines and pops of colour with function, efficiency and style. The kabukiinspired lobby is particularly intriguing, where a long counter serves as both a reception desk and a bar, which serves coffee and cakes in the morning, and cocktails in the evening. Rooms All 143 rooms and suites feature a tailor-made ‘Pullman Bed’ from Takumi Otsuka, but this is no ordinary mattress. This is heaven. Dozing off into the land of nod atop this bed is like sleeping on a Japanese cotton cheesecake — silken, fluffy and ever so light. Together with indulgent C.O Bigelow body lotion and an illy coffee machine, this really is the ultimate tool in combating jet-lag. Rooms are compact, but well-organised and every amenity, including pajamas, has its own perfectly carved-out place. Everything is softer, shinier and brighter as a first-time guest, and the allure of something that has ‘never been touched’ certainly adds to the excitement. Being the first person to ‘experience’ my room also encouraged me to embrace another first — the Toto Washlet (bidet toilet) with front and rear flush. They say you never forget your first time... and I certainly won’t forgot that anytime soon. While not every room has a dedicated writing desk, there are a number of quite nooks and crannies throughout the hotel, as well as an executive lounge, where business travellers can comfortably open a laptop. Event space The hotel features a 131sqm banquet room, which can be divided into three smaller meeting rooms. An additional meeting room can accommodate up to 15 people for a board meeting. All rooms are located on the ninth floor, with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the Tokyo skyline. Private cocktail events can also be held on the hotel’s outdoor terrace (adjoining Kasa restaurant) or chic rooftop bar.

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Ho t e l R e v i e w Pu l l m an To k y o Tam ach i

Did you know? Tokyo’s metro card, known as PASMO, can be used to make purchases at vending machines and convenience stores across the city — an easy way to track delegate spending and ensure guests aren’t left high and dry while touring the city.

F&B All-day diner, Kasa, serves Mediterranean dishes with an Asian twist. An open kitchen and live Teppan ice-cream counter add theatre to the dining experience. Meanwhile, at the hotel’s Platform 9 rooftop bar, Japanese-inspired tapas are served alongside creative cocktails curated by renowned bartender, Roman Foltan (head bartender at Singapore’s famed ATLAS Bar), who recently completed a two-month residency at the hotel. Accessibility Located at Tamachi Station in one of the city’s most upand-coming business districts, the hotel is surrounded by beautiful canals and provides easy access to Tokyo Tower, Haneda Airport, and Ginza. It’s only a short walk from the Yamanote train line, which connects to major hubs such as Shibuya, Shinjuku and Tokyo station. The hotel is directly linked to Tamachi Station Tower S, also known as mbs Tamachi, a 30-storey shopping, restaurant, and office complex.

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Things to do teamLab Borderless: Billed as the world’s first digital art museum, this immersive art installation finds a natural home in Odaiba, a high-tech entertainment hub built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. A series of interactive light and 3D video mapping artworks seemingly follow visitors through this ‘borderless’ space. The museum opened in June 2018 and continues to attract swarming crowds. Corporate groups are advised to book tickets well in advance and seek VIP access to avoid long queues. Tsukiji Fish Market: No visit to Tokyo is complete without a stroll through the Tsukiji Fish market. While the tuna auction and wholesale market has now moved to the shiny new Toyosu Market, the bustling outer market, lined with shops, restaurants and street food vendors, remains very much open for business. Small incentive groups can battle the crowds to sample fresh oysters, sashimi and takoyaki (battered octopus balls), or escape into a number of sushi bars for an intimate group lunch.

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Co ver St ory

BUSINESS FOR GOOD Purpose-driven business models are required for sustainable growth in a better world, where meetings and events drive social and economic change. By Lauren Arena

t the heart of every good business is a creative solution to a problem, but a great company knows how to reinvent its culture, business model and products around an ever-changing user experience. These companies think of customers less as one-time buyers and more as community members, with an ongoing relationship that delivers value outside the sales funnel. The Lego Group, founded in a small village in Denmark in 1932, is the master of reinvention. The iconic toymaker transformed its business model, coming back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2004 to become the world’s most valuable toy brand. While not entirely immune to changing market forces (the company reported an eight per cent decline in revenues in 2017, the first time since 2004), Lego successfully turned itself around by sharpening focus on its ‘creative solution’ — its 31.8mm x15.8mm plastic brick — and by co-creating with customers, both in person and online (the brand has more than a million adults in its Lego Ideas online community).

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Lego’s story is proof that in order for a brand to survive, its leaders must constantly ask ‘why?’. Re-examining company purpose is imperative in order to provide value and stay relevant. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution kicks into gear, the way we live, work and connect is changing — and so too is the value of business events. In this hyperconnected world, consumers expect more from brands than a product on a shelf. Instead, they are looking for companies with values and missions that resonate with them personally. In this context, companies do well by doing good — and the rise of B Corps is testament to this (see p.27). Similarly, business events can no longer subsist solely as meetings with immediate, industry-specific outcomes. Business events must become a platform for greater social and economic progress. But you don’t have to be a unicorn (see p.29) to become a force for good. Nor do you need to upend your entire business to remain relevant. A few new ideas and operational pivots can help sustain your business (event) for the foreseeable future.

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C ov er S to ry

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Purpose-driven B1G1’s Masami Sato and Paul Dunn (left); Sir Richard Branson launches The B Team Australasia in Sydney (right).

Profit for purpose

For Masami Sato, the secret to success lies in doing meaningful work. That’s why, in 2007, she founded global giving initiative Buy1Give1 (B1G1), which provides an innovative CSR platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes to give to charity and embed a greater sense of purpose in company culture. “For businesses to survive and thrive in this new, meaning-driven world, we need to play the game with a new set of rules,” Sato says in her book Giving Business. Businesses who join the B1G1 community can choose to support more than 500 charity projects from around the world and regularly track the impact of their giving in an engaging way. B1G1 provides small, scalable goals such as ‘when you sign a new client, a mosquito net is given to prevent malaria’ or ‘when you complete a project, a child receives life-saving water’. In essence, Sato created a platform that balances short-term goals with longterm implications and allows B1G1 to design bite-size strategies and actions that accumulate to make a real difference — Sato calls these ‘giving impacts’.

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Based in Singapore, B1G1 now has 2,500 members and has created 162 million giving impacts. They also hold study tours and annual B1G1 conferences to connect like-minded business owners. “There’s no complex business model,” attests B1G1 chairman, Paul Dunn. “It’s just a new way of thinking, being and doing that maximises the impact that each of us can make in this world.” So, what makes the B1G1 model so powerful? “Giving is in our DNA,” Dunn says. “Many of our members say that we have shifted the spirit of their organisation by creating a giving story for their business.” One such member is

REO Group, a Sydney-based recruitment company servicing the finance sector. They created their own ‘Elevate the Nation’ campaign so that every time an employee places a candidate, the company gives 50 days of technology education to children in remote Australian communities. By the year 2021, REO wants to provide 50,000 days of education to underprivileged children in Australia. B1G1 is one of eight registered B Corps in Singapore. For Dunn, purpose drives performance and provides sustainable business growth. “If your purpose is big enough, you become a magnet for talent,” he says. “It’s table stakes now. You’ve got to do it. Talent needs purpose.”

Consumers are demanding that brands have a meaningful impact in the world. BEN GROSSMAN SVP, group strategy director Jack Morton Worldwide

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What are B Corps?

Meeting planners can challenge current models of event organisation by re-examining who decides on the content. WEI-TYNG TSAI Senior event manager and digital event strategist Freaks 4U Gaming

Building trust through live events Like Sato and Dunn, Jack Morton Worldwide’s SVP, group strategy director, Ben Grossman, says brand purpose matters, but warns it must be authentic. “Consumers are demanding that brands have a meaningful impact in the world — and one that’s positive and purpose-driven tends to be the most potent and immediately appreciated,” he says. “But brands can’t be seen as supporting random causes to opportunistically and inauthentically score quick points on the backs of causes. The causes brands support should be proof of the promise they put out to the world.” According to Jack Morton’s Global Experience Brand Index, released in September, more than 75 per cent of global consumers care about how brands behave toward customers, employees and their communities. “We are in the experience era where consumer experience and brand experience are key drivers of brand success globally. According to our index, brands that back their words with action and experiences have a 200 per cent increase in net promoter score and 25 per cent increase in customer loyalty.

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Certified B Corporations (B Corps) are businesses that balance profit with purpose. By harnessing the power of commerce as a force for good, B Corps use profits to create positive change for their employees, communities, and the environment, and strive to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. There are a number of regional community groups that support the global B Corp movement and help businesses measure their impact. These include B Corp Asia, which has 88 certified B Corp members across 16 countries in the region; and The B Team Australasia, which launched in October 2018 as part of a global initiative co-founded by German entrepreneur, Jochen Zeitz and Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson.

Visit bcorpasia.org and bteam.org for more information

“What this means is brands that deliver brand promise are twice as likely to be recommended by existing customers and also yield increased loyalty.” For Grossman, B2C and B2B events can be leveraged to demonstrate brand purpose. “Consumers are unforgiving when a brand does not live up to the promises it makes — and that includes live experiences,” he says. “Live experiences should be seen as one part of an integrated story and it’s important to carry a clear proof intention through every phase of an event, from pre-event through to post-event engagements.”

Open source campaigns

While business events can play a role in accelerating powerful ideas, open source campaigns can empower communities to amplify your message. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has created a purpose-driven community around its annual Earth Hour event, which celebrated its 11th edition in March 2018. “The beauty of this campaign is that it is a truly open source campaign,” says Siddarth Das, global director, digital engagement at WWF. “We create toolkits [to help people take part], but we don’t restrict the toolkits to people who support us. It can be run by anybody.”

To really build momentum, and turn brand purpose into a movement, Das says you have to relinquish control and trust your audience. “As a brand, we monitor and track Earth Hour activities, but also understand there are some things that are out of our control… That’s been a big learning for us because you can only get billions and billions of people to care if you’re not in control.” He adds: “Listen to your supporters, and understand how their lives are evolving — that’s what will make you a credible and trusted brand. Many brands see the customer journey as a closed funnel that ends after a certain time [like journey to purchase], but you have to continue to growth with your audience to build that credibility.”

Transformation through content (re)creation

After more than 10 years organising international association meetings, WeiTyng Tsai recently found a new lease on life in the esports and gaming industry. As the senior event manager and digital event strategist at marketing agency, Freaks 4U Gaming, Tsai says associations can learn a

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The Restorative Innovation Model

1

Relative Cost

High

Starting price is substantially higher, due to scarcity & limitation in resources of inherent inefficiency

2

Innovation reduces the inefficiencies or increases supply, allowing for economy of scale which reduces the price selection dilemma and increases customer adoption

3

Restorative Innovation

Acceptable Price Range by Mainstream Consumers

Price incrementally higher, but not prohibitively unaffordable

Disruptive Innovation

0 Low Source: restorativeinnovation.com

lot from the gaming industry’s onlineoffline-online model, which empowers audiences to control the content of major esports tournaments. “The full engagement of the community allows them to be the hidden stakeholder of the industry, while also being the content consumer,” Tsai says. “It provides an assurance of quality content that will be kept and reused. “Meeting planners can challenge current models of event organisation by re-examining who decides on the content, and integrating more optin choices instead of a single-track programme.” Esports allows its community to decide not only what content they want to consume, but also how they prefer their content to be served. For Tsai, this is critical to engaging young professionals and future event attendees.

Price diminishes over time, and becomes incrementally higher, but within acceptable and affordable price range

Disruptive innovation reaches mainstream and becomes sustaining innovation with relative price and adoption stability.

High

Performance “Listen, react and engage — this is an important series of actions,” she says. “Listen to what the audience wants, react to what they say, and engage them to make decisions.” Jof Calstas, secretary-general of the International Institute of Journalism and Culture recently embraced this philosophy when organising the institute’s annual meeting. “[A content-focused model] created a new atmosphere and boosted member engagement,” he says. “Instead of discussing statutes and membership dues, members became more interested in conceiving the events, selecting the themes and choosing venues.” He adds: “Together with our members, we found a new strategy of preparing events well in advance. We introduced pre-registrations so that we could build the event strategy together

If your purpose is big enough, you become a magnet for talent. PAUL DUNN Chairman B1G1 28

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with future delegates. Reporters like hot topics and we looked for solutions that can go deeper into the topics.” To remain relevant, Calstas says flexibility is key. “The most important challenge associations must overcome is the temptation to stay in the routine. They must be flexible, ready to change rapidly, make quick decisions, and take calculated risks.”

Restorative Innovation

Singaporean entrepreneur Jovan Tan and adjunct professor of technology entrepreneurship at INSEAD and NUS Business School, Virginia Cha, have developed a framework to predict and explain a certain pattern of innovationdriven growth that does not harm humanity or the environment, known as ‘Restorative Innovation’ (see graph above). “Based on our research, we believe that for an innovative solution to restore our health, humanity and the environment, it usually starts with people like you and I who have a latent

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C ov er S to ry

need to be a conscientious consumer — to treat ourselves to nutritious foods, to maintain a small carbon footprint, and to maintain a healthy body,” Tan explains. “However, the goods and services which meet these conscientious qualities are generally far more expensive or are difficult to find. As a result, we anchor ourselves to what is mass produced and widely available. “Recognising these problems, entrepreneurial business leaders are subsequently innovating to improve efficiencies in the production, capacity and the supply chain of these newlyintroduced conscientious choices, so they gradually enter the affordable price zone and therefore invite more consumers to adopt the innovation. The nearmass adoption will further the cost of consumption, providing everyone access to the good choices and allowing the restorative effects to proliferate.” So why should an event organiser care? “Event organisers are no different from entrepreneurial business leaders,” Tan says. “They are the key decisionmakers of what products and services are rendered to ensure the event’s success. Due to the nature of events, which are often temporary, the choice of products used today is often a huge contributor to waste — both environmental and food. “This waste may seem negligible for a single event but if we extrapolate the cumulative waste across every event that takes place across the world in any given single year, the amount is staggering.” And Tan is walking the talk. As the founding curator of the Inaugural World Restorative Innovation Forum, which took place in Singapore in September 2018, he carefully managed

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Land of unicorns the event’s carbon footprint by recycling lanyards, reducing paper use, and using non-disposable bento boxes for lunch, which significantly reduced food waste. For Tan, everything we do boils down to cause and effect. “Across the time horizon, if event organisers continuously and consciously substitute mass market alternatives to use products that do good in their respective events, the net effect of goodness will proliferate and that will restore the balance of nature and contribute to the betterment of society,” he says.

A unicorn is a start-up company valued at more than US$1 billion. The term was coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, who likened the statistical rarity of such successful ventures to the mythical creature. Nevertheless, the numbers are growing. According to CB Insights, there are currently more than 280 unicorns around the world. These include Uber, Didi Chuxing, Airbnb, WeWork, and SpaceX.

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A sso ci at i ons Im pact

Crouching tiger, hidden agenda? Three years into the government’s plan to ‘decouple’ industry associations, confusion lingers for local and international players alike. By Jenny Salsbury

Top down... A thirst for knowledge has ensured the growth of China's association sector, but hosting international meetings remains highly regulated.

I

n July 2015, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council jointly released the Overall Plan for Decoupling the Trade Association Chamber of Commerce from the Administration, declaring that trade associations should be separated from government by the end of 2018. With only two months left of the year, what does this shift mean for national and international associations and their meetings? And what opportunities does it open up for international players looking to expand into China?

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The overarching aim of the decoupling plan is to encourage national associations to become more market-driven and, through a process of greater international collaboration (particularly with countries along the Belt and Road trading routes), wean themselves off government support. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, there are currently 805,046 associations in China (as of October 2018). This includes chambers of commerce and trade associations (which make up 50 per cent), foundations, and private non-enterprise organisations.

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A s s o c i a t i o ns I m p a c t

Association growth in China 1968-2017

Licence criteria for international congresses in China International association congress organisers must apply for a licence or permit three to five months prior to the event. The process must be initiated by the Chinese counterpart association. The following congresses need to apply: Source: ICCA

These organisations must now comply with the government’s decoupling goals, which stipulate the separation of organisation, function, financial and physical assets and personnel management from all party matters and foreign affairs. To understand the complexities of the decoupling plan, it’s important to note that unlike the socially-minded associations of Europe, or the commercially-oriented associations of the U.S., Chinese associations are traditionally built from the top down; often part of large umbrella organisations that are closely linked to various levels of government (see p.33). This integrated structure allows the administration to regularly tap into the vast network of Chinese associations to gather grassroots information and disseminate policy. As such, the modern Chinese government has long valued the knowledge exchange that takes place at international association congresses, viewing this as aiding the development of a vast country, much of which needs modernisation in many areas. And despite a few hurdles (such as Xi Jinping’s directive to hold “less lavish” meetings in 2012), the sector has experienced exponential growth (see graph above). In fact, in 2017 China was ranked eighth in ICCA’s global country rankings after hosting 376 association meetings. An increasing thirst for knowledge has ensured the continued growth of China’s association sector, but the process of hosting an international association conference in China is well regulated, and working with a local counterpart association is absolutely essential and there are many ‘behind-the-scenes’ steps that must be undertaken by a Chinese body. For example, before a Chinese association can bid for their counterpart international meeting, they are required to submit documents to their state department or ministry outlining the potential advantages China will gain from hosting the meeting. And prior to running the event, a licence must be obtained from the Public Security Bureau according to strict criteria (see right). This entire process can only be managed by a Chinese organisation.

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• Congresses organised by branches or offices under United Nations (UN) • Other international governmental and non-governmental congresses outside UN if there is a minister, foreign official or former head of state attending • Any international congress with 100+ foreign participants or a total of 400+ participants • International science and technology congresses with 300+ foreign participants or a total of 800+ participants.

The Chinese government still has significant influence over Chinese associations. NING HUA Senior director of Asia operations IEEE

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A sso ci at i ons Im pact

Brave new world? Besides promoting a more market-driven approach, the plan encourages national associations to tap new Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) ‘growth’ opportunities by working with their international counterparts. It also provides an opportunity for international counterpart associations to introduce ‘best practice’ training. However, given the long-standing reliance on government support, Rachel Qiao, deputy director, standardisation department, at the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, says the decoupling process presents a challenging mind-set shift. “Internationalisation is one of the directions of reform and development. Therefore, chambers of commerce and industry associations need to establish a platform for greater cooperation and exchange with the trade associations of countries involved in the BRI.” She adds: “At the same time, the needs of members are changing, so these associations need to improve their ability to provide international services to members.” Ning Hua, senior director of Asia operations at the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), says revenue diversification is an ongoing struggle. “In the past, the majority of funding came from government. Nowadays, many associations get revenue from organising conferences, publishing journals, membership dues, and training and certification programmes. In some ways, these associations have become more like their western counterparts.” However, he adds: “The Chinese government still has significant influence over Chinese associations… which now have to be more focused on building communities, providing membership benefits and promoting the profession.” The US-based American Society of Association Executives has been working in China for close to 20 years and provides a number of association management training programmes run by MCI’s Beijing office. Maria Tong, director of association management and consulting at MCI China, says she has noticed a few key changes since the decoupling plan came into effect. “After the decoupling, the association has more freedom to develop itself, and it has stronger motivation to pursue a market-driven approach. There are young and capable association executives emerging and they are taking on leadership roles; making associations more dynamic,” she says. Nevertheless, Tong says more widespread training is needed if China’s national associations are to become major players on the world stage. “[Association leaders] need to learn from international associations about business management, member service, and talent development. The need for collaboration has become even stronger.”

The term ‘PCO’ is a new concept and much-abused term in China, so confidence building is important. LIU PING CEO China Star

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A s s o c i a t i o ns I m p a c t

Belt and Road... Chinese associations are encouraged to work with international counterparts along the BRI.

Major umbrella organisations for Chinese associations • China Association of Science & Technology (CAST) • Chinese Medical Association (CMA) • China Academy of Science (CAS) • China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT)

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Long-term partnerships According to Nikki Walker, global vice president of association management and consulting at MCI Group, many international associations struggle to keep up with China’s ever-changing compliance rulebook; most are still grappling with China’s 2017 foreign NGO law, which imposes tighter regulation of foreign notfor-profit organisations (including those from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau) conducting business in the Mainland. “Most associations interested in growing in China are not aware of the socalled liberalisation of Chinese associations,” she says. Nevertheless, many international players are looking to invest in China as part of a long-term growth strategy. “Associations are understanding that China is a long-term investment and that there is demand for their continuing professional development of products and services,” Walker says. “This demand often results in a conference, and we have seen increased interest in lesser-known cities — like Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Chengdu — as they offer a cheaper alternative to Beijing or Shanghai.” MCI and other international association management companies operating in China, such as Kellen and the Interel Group, suggest partnering with an experienced

PCO or management company with the ability to explain the nuances of conference organisation and make the essential translations. For instance, Liu Ping, CEO of Beijing-based events company, China Star, has successfully developed the company from an incoming DMC into a full-fledged PCO. It handled the 2018 World Congress on Powder Metallurgy (WorldPM) held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing in September (pictured left). The congress was organised by the Chinese Society for Metals (CSM) and China Powder Metallurgy Alliance (CPMA), and supported by the Asian Powder Metallurgy Association (APMA), Taiwan Powders and Powder Metallurgy Association (TPMA), European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA) and Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF). Drawing 1,000 delegates from more than 40 countries, the five-day congress is an example of the global co-operation that could become more prevalent in China. Commenting on the transformation of her business, Liu says: “In China, it’s not about the money, it’s about the relationship. Start [by being] humble and treat people with respect. The term ‘PCO’ is a new concept and much-abused term in China, so confidence building is important.”

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M&I Toolkit S ection Sp o nso r

Empowerment builds better business AccorHotels’ Adi Satria says investing in client-centric processes can foster brand loyalty.

I When you nurture service culture from within, it transforms the customer experience.

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n recent years, technology has upended the communication landscape. With significant market consolidation and higher customer expectations, it is now vital for businesses to streamline services and enhance interaction with consumers. Integrated customer relationship management tools help brands develop a deeper understanding of their audience. Data is at the heart of customer intelligence, and allows us to personalise our service for greater customer satisfaction. Four years ago, AccorHotels launched a US$256 million global digital transformation plan to reinvent customer experience through digital technology. Several initiatives were rolled out in an effort to help us better anticipate customers’ needs. These included a mobile-first guest experience app; an innovative online booking platform for conference venues and B2B services; and specialised training programmes by means of dedicated conferences, online training modules and themed communities on Yammer, our enterprise social networking platform, to better equip our employees with digital tools. The aim of all digital transformation is a simple one: To make customers’ lives easier. That is why we have a Reputation Performance Score embedded into KPIs across all levels of the business.

By giving our employees direct mobile access to property-specific management systems, they can simplify certain tasks and dedicate more time to manage guest relationships. Central to achieving this success is mentoring talent to become brand ambassadors. This is what keeps our Talent and Culture team up at night. Our training materials are reviewed annually by our leaders in the region so that we stay relevant. Relationship building begins internally, it is therefore crucial for us to ensure that everyone feels valued and supported. Regular training and open discussions strengthen connections between managers and employees; and provide the necessary skills to succeed in an ever-changing environment. The AccorHotels Académie, our corporate university, provides training to all employees, regardless of their profession and level of expertise. We also open ephemeral campuses to train our new talents in countries with few or no hotel schools. When you nurture service culture from within, it transforms the customer experience. Technology aids relationship building, but we can never neglect the human touch. Adi Satria is vice president, sales marketing and distribution at AccorHotels - Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

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M&I Toolkit

Blockchain: What the tech?

Events are becoming increasingly data-driven, but is the industry ready to embrace the potential of blockchain technology? Gabrielle Goh investigates.

Digital gold rush... Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, can be used to make secure financial transactions.

D

on’t know what blockchain is? Chances are, you’ve already heard about its most famous application to date, Bitcoin. In the past year, the chaotic realm of cryptocurrencies has drawn much public interest and intense speculation that resembles a digital gold rush. But there’s more to blockchain technology beyond its use with

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cryptocurrencies to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets. Imagine if every agreement, process, task and payment had a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared. What would industry, or the world, look like if individuals, organisations,

machines, and algorithms could freely transact and interact with one another with little friction and full transparency? Filling in the details of that picture is precisely what advocates and developers of blockchain, the technology that would enable this, are working towards right now. Imagine how the business of events would, or could, change. But are event professionals looking at a potential

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M &I Toolkit

What is blockchain? The blockchain can be defined as a new kind of database. Its most well-known and popular use to date is as the backbone to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. By design, a blockchain is resistant to any modification of the data. As described by Harvard Business Review: It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.” Blockchains are not exclusively used for cryptocurrencies

blockchain overload in their near future? The most obvious use of blockchain technology in the events industry is linking cryptocurrency and ticket sales, which some conferences already do. Joon Ian Wong, managing director for Europe and Asia at Coindesk, shares that the media and events company currently accepts Bitcoin and Ether for sponsorships and tickets for its blockchain technology summit series, Consensus. In addition to payments, blockchain technology can be applied to improving the overall attendee experience, particularly with data collection and identity security. For example, with blockchain as an immutable ledger, attendees need not expose financial or personal details to numerous individual vendors. Instead, attendees’ identifiable data and transactional information could follow them around an event, or even multiple events — leaving them in control of data to be shared. There’s also a potential role for smart contracts to enable the exchange of anything of value in a transparent, conflict-free way without a middleman. This could ease vendor management woes. Shook Fung Yap, MCI managing director Malaysia, agrees that ticketing, smart contracts and payments are the most obvious applications for blockchain technology. “Besides these, we are also looking at how best to utilise the technology to improve accuracy and increase efficiency and productivity,” she adds.

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but can be applied to any form of transaction. For example, banks are building blockchains that can track payments between accounts, while governments are experimenting with using blockchains to store property records and votes. “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

As an industry we remain relatively old school, where triedand-tested systems and workflows win out most of the time. GABRIEL YANG Chief operations officer Beyond Blocks

Beyond Blocks... Despite rising interest, there’s still a long road ahead for blockchain education.

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However, the technology remains nascent, with Yap emphasising that despite its high potential, it will take some time for adoption and “achieving critical mass”. Gabriel Yang, chief operations officer of Beyond Blocks, an event platform that seeks to connect blockchain enthusiasts, believes the technology is nowhere near ready for primetime. “Because there isn’t a proven and effective solution out there in the market yet,” he explains. “By proven, I mean something like Eventbrite or Peatix, which we currently use for our conferences in Tokyo, Seoul and Bangkok. They are easy to use and fairly secure.” Yang points out that while there is high potential for blockchain solutions to seriously address some of the pressing issues facing the events industry, there must first be a mindset change. “The industry knows that technology can make our lives easier. And there is currently a variety of apps available to aid with audience engagement, marketing or data management,” he says. However, Yang notes that the industry as a whole hasn’t proven itself to be an early adopter of technology due to hesitation stemming from cost, product reliability, lack of customer service and the lack of buy-in from clients. “There’s also the barrier due to a lack of understanding about new technology and tools,” Yang says. “As an industry, we remain relatively old school, where tried-and-tested systems and workflows win most of the time. It’s a long road ahead for blockchain education and acceptance.” Coindesk’s Wong notes that while event industry-specific solutions are currently not the major use-case for blockchain, there are a number of start-up companies developing solutions. He cites Aventus, founded by two Imperial College students, which raised US$20 million in funding last year. Aventus believes that blockchain for event tickets could prevent fraud and touting, while also delivering and enforcing specific rights to ticket holders through smart contracts. “This makes a lot of sense, but it’s a ‘boil the ocean problem’. They have to get everyone in the events industry to use their system for it to work,” says Wong, adding

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[Blockchain start-ups] have to get everyone in the events industry to use their system for it to work. JOON IAN WONG Managing director, Europe and Asia Coindesk

that several other teams such as Eventchain and Blocktix are trying similar things. He says another interesting cryptoeconomic approach to blockchain and events is London-based Blockparty. To prevent “event squatters” from clogging up the guest list, attendees pay a deposit to the organiser in the form of cryptocurrency Ether sent to a smart contract. Those who fail to show up as promised forfeit their deposit. All forfeited deposits are collected in a pot and distributed to attendees who actually show up.

“This sort of approach has more promise because it can be easily implemented and doesn’t require industrywide adoption,” he adds. For curious developers or entrepreneurs keen to fulfil the needs of events professionals with blockchain technology, Yang advises: “Not enough event professionals are actually part of the development process. This needs to change before it becomes the norm. Listen to what the industry needs and keep it simple for them.”

Event potential... Coindesk runs Consensus, a blockchain tech conference series.

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Up Cl ose Fabian Pf o r t mül l er

Up close with Fabian Pfortmüller This Swiss community builder says the business events industry needs to focus less on logistics, and more on people. By Lauren Arena

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serial entrepreneur, Fabian Pfortmüller runs COMMUNITY, a strategic advisory firm based in New York that helps organisations understand and build authentic communities. He is the co-author of the Community Canvas, an open-source framework to support community builders across the globe, and is also currently an ‘Innovator in Residence’ for the Kauffman Foundation. And all of this comes off the back of co-founding the global community Sandbox; social innovation think tank Incubaker; and a lifestyle brand known as Holstee. So this self-professed community builder may have a thing or two to teach event planners about engaging audiences and building meaningful connections… Tell us about the Commnity Canvas. Fabian: I’ve built lots of different communities and I’ve found that communities are both incredibly powerful and magical, but often very poorly understood. So, a couple of years ago, I decided to dedicate myself to the question: What is a community? And how can you build a true, authentic community? We looked at more than 120 communities all

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over the globe and mapped out what they have in common. Based on that, we created the Community Canvas — an open source guidebook that anyone can use. It provides questions, not answers, but has identified 17 themes that a lot of communities have in common (see p.43). Explain why identity and purpose are at the core of the canvas. Fabian: At the core of the Community Canvas are two questions: Who? And why? The people you have in an organisation (who) will always influence the purpose (why). There are usually two kinds of purpose: An internal and an external purpose. Internal purpose means the group exists for itself to take care of each other. An external purpose means the group exists to solve a problem. I find there’s an interesting tension here, and am starting to hypothesise that the strongest communities always have an internal purpose, where they really exist for themselves and take care of each other, and then sometimes they build an external purpose on top. But groups that only have an external purpose can sometimes be very transactional and short-lived.

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U p C l o s e F ab i an Pf or t mĂźlle r

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Up Cl ose Fabian Pf o r t mül m u lller er

The meetings industry understands how to bring people together, but it just needs to update its methods. FABIAN PFORTMÜLLER Founder & CEO COMMUNITY

So, to build a successful community we must harness people’s passions rather than simply address a problem? Fabian: There is an assumption in a lot of communities that you have to give things to people; that you have to serve them and create things for them. But consider this mindset: What if everyone in the community already had the gifts and talents to create a flourishing and rich community? What if there was abundance within? This is the type of mindset shift we are trying to encourage with community builders. You don’t have to look outside, everything is within your group. You just have to trust that it’s there, then empower and embolden it. Let it come out. But how do you unlock that energy? Fabian: By setting clear expectations, by providing roles that people can play, by pointing out avenues for people to engage. Harmony is very important in a community, so highlighting roles is critical.

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Shared experience also dominates the Community Canvas. Event planners are in the business of creating shared experiences. How can we leverage this to create a greater sense of community? Fabian: Shared experience certainly takes up a large part of our canvas, and it’s for good reason, because that’s how we trust. That’s how we create a sense of belonging — by simply doing things with people. It’s as basic as that. However, it’s important to note that many shared experiences, especially in the meetings and events industry, are over-engineered. All we really need is to spend time together. I’m often asked: “What is your favourite community-building tool?” And I think people expect me to give an answer based on some sort of software. But my answer is a kitchen table. This is the best community-building tool in the world because all you need for people to share an experience is a place to sit and something to eat some. Everything else is too much.

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U p C l o s e F ab i an Pf or t mülle r

The Community Canvas

Shared Experiences

Content Transition

Purpose

d an Br

Rules

Va lue s

Selection

Rituals

Roles

Identity Organization Source: Community Canvas

Governance

Su on cce ss Definiti

Financing

Channels & Platforms

Data Management

Source: The Community Canvas

When you construct a shared experience that is full of name tags and big venues it creates a sense of formality and professionalism, and this encourages people to wear masks. They have to show up in a certain way, and if the ultimate objective is to create trust and bring people together, all this excess is a hinderance. It creates a barrier more than it helps. In the business of events, the objective is to do business, and therefore largely transactional, but before you do business with someone you have to trust them. So it seems we have a chicken-and-egg scenario… Fabian: I personally have a very clear opinion on the chicken-and-egg problem. I think it all starts with relationships, but that’s not how we design meetings. My assumption is that, if you have a group of people that trust each other and have a relationship, they will find so many more ways to create business together — more than we could ever plan top-down. Exploring the opportunities beyond a single transaction, that’s what a lot of the industry is missing right now.

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Can you explain the difference between centralised and decentralised communities? And the benefits of each? Fabian: These concepts examine how power is distributed in a group. No group is the same, but all groups exist on a spectrum where, on one side, all the power is in one place (in heavily centralised organisations, like when one organisation puts on a conference and brings people together) and then, on the other side, there are models where the power is increasingly shared. The decentralised model is, for example, the TEDx model, where the mothership at the centre empowers smaller nodes and sub-groups to create their own events. There are still event organisers at the core, but there are multiple layers that all contribute. In my opinion, the most powerful communities work in a decentralised way. If the power is all in one place, people are forced to show up at your event as consumers, instead of contributors. They come in with a mindset of being served and entertained — a 'what’s in it for me' attitude.

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Up Cl ose Fabian Pf o r t mül l er

Community mapping

Centralised community

Decentralised community

Additional benefits of the decentralised model are scale (the amount of people you can reach is much higher) and resilience — in a centralised model, the moment the organiser stops running a conference, the community will no longer continue. But in a decentralised model, if you remove a few organisations or people, it doesn’t really matter because the group exists for itself. I’m now wondering how event planners, who work in a very centralised model, can relinquish control to create and leverage a more decentralised community? Is it feasible? Fabian: I can see a few different paths, but first of all we have to acknowledge that giving up control is really scary because it means that you take bigger risks; you don’t control the message; you don’t control the outcome; maybe you don’t even control who attends. But you unlock tremendous energy within people. The future of event planning will be less about organising events, and more about creating and sharing templates that people can use to create their own events.

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U p C l o s e F ab i an Pf or t mülle r

The future of event planning will be less about organising events, and more about creating and sharing templates. FABIAN PFORTMÜLLER Founder & CEO COMMUNITY

Human-centric Addressing delegates at SMF 2018 (left), Pfortmüller believes many events are over-engineered, and the best community-building tool is a kitchen table (below left).

At the core of it is the notion that we live in a world with incredibly complex challenges, which cannot be solved by one organisation or person alone. We have to work together to solve problems as communities, as ecosystems, and I think the event planners of the future will be ecosystem-builders that bring different groups of people together to gather, talk and learn from each other. That’s what the world needs, and that’s the opportunity for this industry. The meetings industry understands how to bring people together, but it just needs to update its methods. By this I mean it needs to become more human-centric, it needs to care about the humans actually in it. While we’re making predictions, can you tell us where you think the future of communities is headed? Fabian: Right now, everyone assumes that the future is digital, but that’s not my sense. I believe the future of community lies in hyperlocal, micro formats that are small, but, with the help of technology, can be easily scaled. With more and more people in the gig economy, future ways of working will also break down barriers between our personal and professional lives.

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Destinat i on Feat ure Ta i wa n

Kaohsiung on the rise

As Kaohsiung gears up to host the 2020 ICCA Congress, the city is looking to fulfil its potential as Asia’s next rising star for MICE. By Kim Benjamin

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D e s t i na t i o n Fe a t ure Taiw an

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t’s been just under a year since Kaohsiung was named as host city for the 2020 ICCA Congress, following the most competitive bidding exercise in the association’s history. The southern Taiwanese port city triumphed over rivals Yokohama in Japan and Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, with ICCA elaborating on its choice by pointing to how ‘Kaohsiung told a compelling story of a city that is re-inventing itself through the power of meetings’. As Taiwan’s third largest city, Kaohsiung has long had a reputation for its leading-edge manufacturing; its port, one of the world’s largest container ports, processes the majority of the country’s exports. More recently, however, the city has looked to broaden its appeal by becoming something of a cultural hotspot, with a flourishing arts scene and new venues dedicated to culture. The National Kaohsiung Centre for the Arts, for example, opened its doors just last month (October). Robert Campbell is the vice president at Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (KEC), the host venue for the ICCA event. He says the city is transforming into a ‘new, dynamic’ MICE destination and a brand-new harbour city and points to how the government is encouraging local universities to set up MICE courses for the next generation, aimed at raising the global competitiveness of the industry in Kaohsiung.

Unique venues

Photo credit: MADE IN

Pier2 Art Center (above), Kaohsiung Maritime Cultural & Pop Music Center (left), and Kaohsiung Port Warehouse (below) provide versatile event space.

People need to be engaged further; the government and stakeholders need to be aware that it’s not just about a one-shot deal. KITTY WONG Founder and CEO K&A International

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D e s t i na t i o n Fe a t ure Taiw an

With all that Kaohsiung has been through… 2020 will be a good time to receive and welcome delegates. JASON YEH Founder and CEO, GSI Group ICCA board member and chair of APAC chapter

While he acknowledges that hosting the ICCA conference will be a challenge as the MICE industry in Kaohsiung is still in its infancy, he believes such events will help to raise the city’s profile to new heights. Events at the KEC have been increasing year on year — according to Campbell, the occupancy rate in 2018 will increase to 35 per cent, with the highest number of events held since the venue opened in 2014. “We can expect to gain a lot of experience and bring about all sorts of improvements,” he says. “Through the event, we will be letting the world know more about Kaohsiung, let ICCA members from all over the world see the fantastic city of Kaohsiung, and be a further flagship to bring more international conferences here. “Because of this, we expect the occupancy rate of KEC to move decidedly forward and in the near future to go above 40 per cent.” These targets may sound ambitious, but it’s a sentiment echoed among others. Jason Yeh, CEO at meeting services provider GSI Group, and a member of ICCA’s board of directors, says new infrastructure projects built in preparation for the conference will have a lasting legacy long after the event.

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These include the soon-to-be-completed Maritime Cultural & Popular Music Center, The Pier-2 Art Center — an art hub set among former warehouses, the recently-opened Kaohsiung Port Warehouse No.2 and transportation system upgrades. “This upcoming congress is going to be a great benchmark for Kaohsiung,” says Yeh. “With all that Kaohsiung has been through in its transformation phase and the various challenges the city has faced in the past, such as (overcoming high levels of) pollution and political changes, 2020 will be a good time to receive and welcome delegates.” Just as importantly, adds Yeh, the city can take this opportunity to see what developments need to be undertaken to be the destination of choice in the near future and share its transformation experiences with cities that have faced similar challenges. He also points towards how the city is exploring and developing new initiatives such as an “all-inclusive visitor experience programme” for those coming to Kaohsiung. “This will provide visitors with something different — the programme needs to focus on more than just leisure, for example an all-inclusive experience for visitors which could possibly include knowledge exchange and local interactions,” he explains. “Adding a local touch to this programme and shaping it as a brand are potential developments that we would like to undertake in the future.” Kitty Wong, founder and CEO of DMC K&A International and past president of the World PCO Alliance, believes that Kaohsiung can compete with other Asian cities for meetings and incentives but says more needs to be done to attract high-profile business events. This includes increasing the number of direct flights from other Asian destinations to the city and providing more high-end hotels.

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“The current facilities will be able to easily support the ICCA conference but if Kaohsiung wants to build its reputation as a MICE city, more is needed — the impact following the conference will be key,” she says. “People need to be engaged further; the government and stakeholders need to be aware that it’s not just about a one-shot deal — there has to be continuity, a realisation of the need to build small things to make bigger ones.” Wong adds that with Kaohsiung having already hosted several big exhibitions and conferences, it would make sense for the city to look towards hosting more association, medical and hi-tech meetings. With its diverse and relatively young population and with more infrastructure projects in the pipeline, Kaohsiung appears to be in the ideal position to capitalise on interest in the city as a meetings destination, both in the run-up to and beyond the ICCA conference. Taiwan has been actively investing in the MICE sector — the latest stage of Taiwan's MICE Promotion Program, developed by Meet Taiwan and aimed at turning the country into a MICE leader, has been in operation since last year and runs until 2020. Kaohsiung thus stands to benefit further. According to Jessie Tseng, executive director of the Taiwan MICE Project Office, long-term objectives include enhancing the quality and efficiency of services and strengthening Taiwan’s brand and its global competitive edge. “Meet Taiwan’s continuous creativity and innovation aims to introduce the depth and diversity of Taiwan, garnering attention from overseas corporations interested in discovering the new elements of Taiwan’s incentive travel environment and introducing new event ideas for incentive groups that come to Taiwan,” she says. Only time will tell how Kaohsiung will capitalise on the ICCA conference and beyond, but currently, it appears to be embracing its position as a rising star for MICE with open arms.

Destination appeal Attractions like the Dragon and Tiger Pagoda (above) and Formosa Boulevard Station (below) add to the city's appeal.

We can expect to gain a lot of experience and bring about all sorts of improvements. ROBERT CAMPBELL Vice president Kaohsiung Exhibition Center

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A d v erto ria l

Incentive travel thrives in Sabah Unique natural surrounds, improved access, and new hotels are helping to put Sabah on the map as a premier destination for incentive travel.

Unique natural offerings... Island hopping and snorkelling amid coral reefs (above); wildlife encounters (right).

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erched on the northern point of Borneo island, the Malaysian state of Sabah provides a tropical playground for incentive travel groups. More than 50 per cent of the state is forest, with natural offerings such as wildlife encounters and mountain treks, as well as island hopping and snorkelling amid coral reefs brimming with marine biodiversity. Protected areas such as the Maliau Basin and the Danum Valley Conservation Area are now more accessible than ever before. Twenty international cities have regular air services to the state’s capital, Kota Kinabalu. Major business hubs including Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Singapore, and Seoul now have direct flights (between three to six hours), with easy connections to other long-haul destinations. The much-anticipated Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC)

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is expected to open in late 2019. Located in Kota Kinabalu’s vibrant central business district, SICC features a world standard Performing Arts Centre with tiered seating for 1,250 guests, a 5,300sqm exhibition hall, 5,300sqm column-free convention hall, and flexible meeting rooms. There’s also a 7,000 sqm open plaza, food and beverage outlets and a number of hotels and shopping malls nearby. Sabah’s repertoire of internationallybranded hotels and resorts is also expanding, with newcomers like Hilton Kota Kinabalu, which opened in February 2017, and Mercure Kota Kinabalu, which opened its doors in October 2017. Earlier this year, Kota Kinabalu Marriot Hotel entered the fold, adding 332 guest rooms and suites along the city’s bustling waterfront, while the high-end Borneo Eagle Resort, added 13 luxury villas on nearby Pulau Tiga (where the first season of reality show Survivor was filmed).

Located in the Danum Valley Conservation Area, Borneo Rainforest Lodge provides 30 chalets nestled amid a virgin rainforest that is home to more than 340 bird species, 124 mammals, and a staggering 200 species of plants per hectare. There are now more than 27,000 rooms available in Sabah, with some 3,500 rooms in five-star facilities throughout the city, coastal areas and Bornean rainforest. In the next three years, Sabah is expecting an additional 10 hotels to open, ranging from three- to five-star ratings. These will include brands like Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza Hotel and Pullman. Sabah’s awe-inspiring natural surrounds and new and improved facilities, coupled with the unique culture and warmth of the local Sabahan people, will leave a lasting impression on visiting corporate groups.

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D e s t i na t i o n Fe a t ur e S in gapor e

Join the club A new breed of members’ clubs in Singapore is elevating meeting design through dynamic spaces, meaningful collaborations and exclusive experiences. By Gina Sin

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one are the days when venues were simply a conduit for meetings and events to happen. Meeting planners who took part in the 2018 Meeting Room of the Future study, conducted by the International Association of Conference Centers, revealed that attendees will put a greater emphasis on experience creation over the next five years. Understanding how to design experiences through the clever use of space and content is vital to a sustainable events business. In Singapore, a new wave of members’ clubs is setting benchmarks in the experience economy. Unlike old clubs such as Tanglin Club and Singapore Polo Club, new enclaves have a more contemporary, compact space catering to niche lifestyle interests of welltravelled members. Members’ club 1880 houses everything from private dining areas and grooming salons to a fancy bar and co-working space, and shares the building with the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay hotel. It has been hosting events and building its community since 2013, but only launched in December 2017. Founder Marc Nicholson shares his idea behind 1880: “I have lived in Asia for 16 years and met many fascinating people purely by chance. Unfortunately, I never found a conducive environment to gather, which was one of the reasons behind my creating 1880. “I am not interested in stuffy, strict dress codes and arcane rules that tell a story of the privileged world. Instead, I want to provide access for great minds to invoke stimulating discourse and positive change.” A cornerstone of 1880 is its unusual approach to hosting events. The line-up reflects the multi-faceted interests and nature of its members, who are entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and artists. 1880 served as the event venue for a social enterprise that aims to eradicate poverty by uniting women as agents of change. A collaboration with luxury Swiss watch manufacturer IWC saw Formula One race driver Valtteri Bottas give an inspirational talk. “Our members have a thirst for that kind of knowledge and want to interact at that level,” says Nicholson. Also founded on the belief that a strong social network is the bedrock of great ideas, the Straits Clan members’ club was purpose-designed by hospitality firm The Lo & Behold Group as a gathering place for progressive creatives, business leaders

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New in town Stylish interiors at 1880 (above); Straits Clan now inhabits four floors of the former New Majestic Hotel (below).

I am interested in providing access to great minds to invoke stimulating discourse and positive change. MARC NICOLSON Founder 1880 members’ club

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D e s t i na t i o n Fe a t ur e S in gapor e

What planners are looking for is the willingness and ability of any venue team to understand the meeting objectives of each client. ONG WEE MIN Vice president of conventions and exhibitions Marina Bay Sands

and change-makers. “Our goal is to bring a purposefully diverse community together — a platform providing thought-provoking curated content and a unique view on local culture, as well as a shared space for people to connect, collaborate and dream bigger,” says co-founder Wee Teng Wen. The distinct spaces across four floors of the former New Majestic Hotel pay homage to Singapore’s clan associations of the 19th century, which provided comfort and kinship to a city of immigrants who, over time, championed societal advancements in education, infrastructure and commerce. The Attic, Straits Clan’s dedicated events space, has been outfitted with soundproofing acoustics and multipurpose modular surfaces to accommodate a variety of engagements ranging from cocktail parties, speeches, film screenings and musicals to roundtable discussions and yoga sessions. Paying homage to heritage Since Singapore’s early years, Goh Loo Club recognised the strength of having its own community in a city of immigrants.

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Conceived in 1905 by Sun Shihding, the residentconsul of the Qing government, the members’ club was built as a gathering place for the local Chinese community. After a SG$3.8 million renovation in 2016, the heritage club on Club Street now bears modern multi-purpose spaces that are used to host events, and it is exploring the possibility of hosting corporate events in the future. Goh Loo Club’s honorary secretary, Alex Tan, believes clubs can cultivate understanding between people. “Clubs create a dimension in psychological sentiment and empathy that humans must have to co-exist to survive and thrive.” Similarly, The China Club Singapore — a full dining members’ club — maintains authenticity and quality of service through strong oriental aesthetics and traditional Chinese food ranging from homecooking to haute cuisine. Situated atop the 52nd floor of Capital Tower, two levels of flexible private dining rooms can accommodate more than 500 guests. The club hosts all types of group dining events. However, these must be booked through a member. Referring to the appeal of members’ clubs for meetings and incentive travel, East West Planners CEO — and China Club Singapore member — Janet Tan-Collis, says: “The attracting feature is that visitors want to see how the middle and upper class live. They get to have a sense of what it is like, ‘the stature’. Based on the group’s profile, size and budget, and the club’s facilities, DMCs can help customise an experience without compromising on standards and quality. Exclusive access in itself is something special.”

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Similarly, Dinesh Singh, vice president of the Club Managers’ Association of Singapore, echoes the potential of members’ clubs for meetings and events. “Over the years, as hotel prices continue to rise, clubs have become an option,” he says. “The network of expertise, collaboration opportunities and competitive price points give members’ clubs an edge.” However, there are limitations as members’ clubs aren’t open to all types of events. Not only are club managers selective about who they partner with, according to Sam Lay, CWT Meetings & Events senior director for Asia Pacific, there has also never been a precedent for academic and medical meetings to request such a space. Lay says these clients do not want to be seen as being lavish. Nevertheless, the appeal of unique venues is gaining traction — a trend that is not lost on Marina Bay Sands’ vice president of conventions and exhibitions, Ong Wee Min. “When we take a step back and explore why some planners are exploring the possibilities of hosting their events in unique venues, one would realise that the real reasons are not infrastructure-based,” he says. “Today’s delegates want to be ‘wowed’ and seek different experiences when they engage with their peers to exchange knowledge and transact business. They seek authentic and bespoke experiences that cannot be found in online channels. These are experiences that may be missing from traditional venues, which tend to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach towards every event,” Ong says. He adds: “Planners are not merely looking at a new set of four walls. Be it a library, an old warehouse, or a private club; they are essentially four-walled buildings that are still very similar to ‘traditional venues’. But what planners are looking for is the willingness and ability of any venue team to understand the meeting objectives of each client, and to work collaboratively to ensure that the right experiences and bespoke touches are carefully curated into the meeting design process.” Community is the anchor of every business and society. For an events business to remain sustainable, event organisers and venues alike need to invest in the time and effort to identify and understand their community, and design experiences and spaces that best cater to their needs and objectives.

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High society Members of The China Club Singapore can book spaces for corporate events.

The network of expertise, collaboration opportunities and competitive price points give members' clubs an edge. DINESH SINGH Vice president Club Managers' Association of Singapore

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P a r t n e r Co ntent

Versatile venues inspire in Indonesia

AccorHotels’ portfolio of eclectic hotels makes Indonesia an ideal place for business events.

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he beating heart of Indonesian culture and business, Jakarta’s colourful mix of world-class hotels, unique event spaces, vibrant entertainment and dining precincts make it a natural choice for event organisers. While there is no shortage of meeting and conference venues in Jakarta and Bali, these hotels stand out among the crowd. Fairmont Jakarta Located in the heart of Senayan Square, a multi-purpose complex in Jakarta’s Central Business District, Fairmont Jakarta neighbours the 18-hole Senayan National Golf Club, Gelora Bung Karno sports arena and the Jakarta Convention Centre. The hotel’s key asset is the sheer size of its meeting and event facilities – a total of 3,500 sqm of dedicated space includes a 1,200 sqm Grand Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 1,500 guests for networking events, or 700 guests for lavish banquets. With its own private entry, the Grand Ballroom is also equipped with customisable, multi-colour LED lights that create the perfect ambience for your event. Pullman Jakarta Central Park The hotel’s West Jakarta address means it’s within close proximity to the Soekarno– Hatta International Airport (25 minutes by car) and the Sudirman Central Business District (15 minutes by car). Boasting high-level meeting equipment and the second largest pillarless ballroom in the city, the hotel’s Pullman Grand Ballroom spans across 4,586 sqm and can accommodate up to 5,000 guests for cocktail receptions. The 317-room hotel also boasts an exclusive executive club lounge that pays special attention to all VIP guests. Additional highlights include a doubleheighted BUNK Lobby Lounge enveloped in a contemporary arts setting.

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Inspiring venues... (clockwise from left) Fairmont Jakarta’s Grand Ballroom; Raffles Jakarta; Pullman Jakarta Central Park’s Axel meeting room; Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort’s Kecak Grand Ballroom.

Raffles Jakarta For corporate and social gatherings, Raffles Jakarta offers more than 4,000 sqm of conference and breakout space. Each venue provides a unique experience that melds rich Indonesian aesthetics with modern comforts. There’s also a dedicated team of event organisers on the property, who ensure that every event is successfully executed. The hotel is exclusively linked to the Ciputra Artpreneur centre, a landmark development dedicated to the celebration of art and theatre. Paying homage to iconic Indonesian artist Hendra Gunawan, the guest rooms are an interpretation of the artist’s retreat, a tranquil sanctuary that is personified by the historic Raffles Butler service.

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort Beyond Jakarta, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort blends Balinese charm with French elegance in the ‘Island of the Gods’. Situated in the affluent area of Nusa Dua, the hotel is a part of the Bali Tourism Development Complex, which also houses the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center. The resort is located 30 minutes from Denpasar International Airport, while the upscale Seminyak and the urban oasis of Kuta are also nearby. Twelve dedicated meeting rooms include the Kecak Grand Ballroom, which can accommodate up to 600 guests, cocktail-style. The Gamelan Ballroom, a 450 sqm multifunction room specially designed for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in 2013, features a breath-taking 180-degree view of the Indian Ocean.

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Tokyo 2020: Meetings gold?

More hotels and new venues are cropping up ahead of the major sporting event, but what legacy will remain for meeting and event planners? Kim Benjamin investigates.

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D e s t i na t i o n Fe a ture Japan

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S

ports fans all over the world have their sights set on Tokyo in 2020, when the Japanese capital will host the Summer Olympics from July 24 to August 9. With just under two years to go, preparations for the Games — from infrastructure development, to sustainability measures and how organisers are developing a legacy beyond the Games — are also coming under increasing scrutiny. The International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s latest round of preparation inspections, which took place in July, concluded that a number of venues are ‘very impressive’. One of these is the newly-constructed Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, which opened last year. It has already hosted several multipurpose events, an early sign of the Games’ legacy plans. Other permanent venues that are midway through construction, such as the Olympic Stadium and Olympic Aquatics Centre, have also been earmarked for public use following the games. Lisa Hopkins, managing director, APAC at agency BCD Meetings & Events believes that where legacy issues are concerned, Tokyo is investing heavily to ensure its Olympics and city will become top-of-mind on a global stage. “While the short-term return is always on the athletes and audience attending the Games, the long-term and often more important and intrinsic value is in the use of infrastructure, venues, installations and investment for the city, its people and visitors,” she says. Suguru Mochizuki, business development director at agency MCI Tokyo, adds that the new sports venues will not only be an important feature of the Games’ legacy, but will also be key to boosting Tokyo’s appeal as a meeting and incentive destination. “Few existing sports venues in Japan have large-scale hospitality facilities within them (stadiums) at the present time,” he says. “Facilities at these new venues for Tokyo 2020 will therefore enhance business events.

The challenge the city faces is the shortage of venues for nonOlympic events and conferences [in the run-up to the Games]. SUGURU MOCHIZUKI Business development director MCI Tokyo

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D e s t i na t i o n Fe a ture Japan

Game on Investment in new infrastructure (below left), including English language signage and public transport (below), is heating up ahead of the Games.

“More hotels are also expected to open in Tokyo due to the huge accommodation demand during the Games, coupled with increasing inbound tourism from Asian countries.” According to Kazuko Toda, director of the business events team at Business Events Tokyo, there has been a steady interest in the city since it won the Games’ bid five years ago. The number of inquiries from international associations and meeting planners has significantly increased, she says, which in turn is impacting infrastructure developments. While typical heart-stopping moments around the Olympics’ preparation are usually focused around stadium/venue readiness (or lack thereof) and delayed upgrades to transportation networks, construction in Tokyo appears to be on track. Some of the bigger projects include a new station on Tokyo’s Yamanote line. While it is still being built, the development as it stands was unveiled to media at the end of August.

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Another feature, as a direct result of hosting the games, is that more signage will be in English, improving accessibility for visitors to Tokyo. “The infrastructure to welcome international guests is advancing, including public transportation, signage at tourist attractions, and internet connections throughout the city,” says Toda. “Many hotels have already completed major renovations or these are near to completion, making guests’ stays more comfortable.” Toda believes that the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are having a significant impact on Tokyo’s MICE industry too, helping to strengthen Business Events Tokyo’s brand as “the best place to meet”. While Mochizuki acknowledges that some event venues are still under construction, he believes that the work is on schedule. A knock-on effect, however, is the disruption to business events in the immediate future.

The infrastructure to welcome international guests is advancing, including public transportation, signage at tourist attractions, and internet connections throughout the city. KAZUKO TODA Business events director Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau

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Tight squeeze... Games organisers are utilising event venues, leaving little room for meetings. “The challenge the city faces is the shortage of venues for non-Olympic events and conferences [in the run-up to the Games],” he says. “Tokyo Big Sight [Tokyo International Exhibition Center] for example is blocked by the Organizing Committee, not only during the Olympic period but also in the run-up to the Games for setting up purposes.” The Organising Committee has also focused its efforts on tackling sustainability — its final strategic plan was published in July. Tokyo’s approach in this respect is branded as ‘Be Better, together’, and includes many expected measures that previous host cities have focused on, including a carbon offset programme and guidelines for the sourcing of materials such as timber and agricultural products. Some new, more innovative features are part of the plan too, according to sustainability consultant Shawna McKinley. These include a focus on climate change, which is particularly relevant in light of the devastating summer heatwave experienced earlier this year, which caused the deaths of more than 100 people in the capital. “This [sustainability] plan, and its focus on climate change has been tested by athletes and the media who are asking if organisers are prepared to deal with heatwaves that have contributed to the deaths and hospitalisations of many caused by the weather,” says McKinley. She adds that this has given rise to various questions, such as is enough being

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done to protect athletes from the health risks associated with competing in intense heat and humidity? And further, how are spectators being protected? “More fundamentally, in an era when severe weather and climate change increasingly complicate mega-event organisation, should the IOC apply more scrutiny to a host city's suitability from a climate/severe weather perspective before a destination is even selected?” she asked. McKinley’s argument begs the question of whether the IOC can play a more active role in advocating that host cities be prepared for climate risks beyond the period of the Games. This in turn may impact other issues, such as cost implications of adaptations to cope with climate change impact. With a strong chance of very high temperatures in Tokyo being repeated two years from now, the organising committee and the government are actively looking at the issue. Discussions are centring around the potential introduction of daylight saving, so that the marathons for example can start earlier in cooler temperatures, and providing water sprays and additional shade at venues. With 33 sports featuring at the Tokyo Olympics — the most in the history of the Games, the event has already been described as ‘very complex games’ by IOC inspection chief John Coates. Staging a successful competition, therefore, will significantly boost Tokyo’s reputation for hosting not just sporting events, but other mega ones too.

Long-term value is in the use of infrastructure, venues, installations and investment for the city, its people and visitors. LISA HOPKINS Managing director, APAC BCD Meetings & Events

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Profile for BEAM

Biz Events Asia Volume 3 November 2018  

Business for good: New models for sustainable growth

Biz Events Asia Volume 3 November 2018  

Business for good: New models for sustainable growth