When several hundred of the world’s top convention centre managers and specialists descend on your own conference centre, you either need nerves of steel or have an unwavering confidence in your venue and staff.
For Suntec Singapore chief Pieter Idenburg, the latter proved to be the case when Singapore hosted the IAPC 2008 congress in late June and early July this year.
The AIPC, the International Association of Congress Centres, is the industry association for professional convention and exhibition centre managers worldwide, the acronym is derived from its original title in French.
The pressure was increased by the fact that Idenburg had only taken the reins at Suntec on January 1.
Aside from the sessions and seminars, there were a number of activities to keep delegates and their spouses occupied. Pre-conference events kicked off with a golf tournament, while local destination management company, Pacific World, helped put together a programme, Singapore Synopsis Tour, to concisely showcase the island state. The welcome cocktail and dinner at the Sentosa Pavilion added a colourful non-Singaporean twist, in the shape of an authentic Cuban band and dance troupe. The awards gala dinner was held in the iconic Raffles Hotel.
At the Suntec conference itself, a full programme of plenaries and workshops tackled the industry’s critical issues.
Pieter Idenburg, CEO of Suntec Singapore, says: “It was an honour for Singapore and Suntec Singapore to host the AIPC 2008 conference and to have our colleagues from over 50 countries experience our warm hospitality. The conference was a huge success for Suntec Singapore as it not only showcased our capabilities and facilities; but also gave the delegates the opportunity to savour our exceptional culinary offerings. Of equal importance, was the close cooperation and support given by the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau, which allowed delegates to delight in the unique offerings of Singapore.”
Official support for the event was highlighted by speeches from government officials and Aloysius Arlando, assistant chief executive, Business Travel and MICE Group, Singapore Tourism Board.
So were Suntec’s industry peers impressed?
Edgar Hirt, general secretary of the AIPC, praised Idenburg and his team, saying: “It was a fantastic experience working with our colleagues from Singapore. Both delegates and staff were impressed with their professionalism. We experienced true Singaporean hospitality. The level of service and cooperation of Suntec was fantastic.”
No sooner had one chief executive returned to Scotland than he sent Idenburg a glowing testimonial, reading: “Thank you for your superb hospitality in Singapore, it was just great and very enjoyable… You have a super centre and great facilities – you work with some very professional people that make the centre – my compliments and best wishes for the future – you are masters in your trade,” signed Hans Rissmann, Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
To which Idenburg responds: “Listening to the many compliments we received from so many of our peers, hosting this conference will no doubt help Suntec Singapore raise the bar as a world-class business events venue once again.”