If you tell someone you’ve seen stacks of snow in the streets of Singapore, they’ll probably reply that you’ve been putting in too many late nights at work. Yet, the Club Street Association put on a snowboarding party in Singapore, with artificial snow filling the streets.
Crowds decked out in summer-wear cheered and applauded as snowboarders whizzed up and down “the slopes”. This event is a collaborative effort by the tenants of Club Street and is spearheaded by Michael Ma and Alex Hascher.
Ma is the owner of the IndoChine bar and restaurant empire. Hascher is founder and owner of retailer Venue, who won the “New Entrepreneur Of The Year” award.
The search for a creative place to hold an event is not a new marketing strategy, but the ability to find a space, execute the event, outdo everyone in the industry and genuinely have lots of fun – for yourself, your clients and customers – that is the stuff of dreams. A marketing dream that immediately gets you media coverage and recognition by government bodies, sponsors and a loyal base of customers.
Many of these successful events depend largely on the area of design, music and fashion acting as magnetic allies that draw the glamorous and the artistic into your networking space and in turn, makes you think out of the box.
Ironically for Hascher, part of the reason why he won the New Entrepreneur of the Year award is due to the fact that he thinks within a box. The concept and implementation of the Vbox, a movable shipping container acting as a multi-brand fashion boutique for his distribution of Puma Black Station fashion wear and Raf Simons apparel in Southeast Asia,?is a self-sufficient retail space with air-conditioning, iPod music, lights, TV and Xbox gaming.
The creative concept for the Vbox came about when he was looking for new retail spaces, among his five other stores in the region, aptly named Venue, that will stand out from the masses of retail malls and department stores in Singapore. So they opted for one store that can do the job and move around between the locations.
“Singapore is very big in shopping and shipping, so we put the two together and offer a shop in a shipping container, which was not very far-fetched. It took two months to build the new container, which is half steel and half glass weighing seven?tonnes,” explains Hascher matter-of-factly.
To launch the Vbox, he organised a Carnival Fashion Show, using the rooftop of the Vbox as a catwalk. Held at Clarke Quay, it stunned the crowd with its presence. The Vbox is a flexible venue for a product launches and events since it can fit into the narrow gaps between buildings.
Sinkid, a local public relations and events company, wowed the media launch of the Singapore Fashion Festival 2006 by laying a 50m red carpet right outside Takashimaya shopping centre for a catwalk show.
Models paraded for the movers and shakers of the fashion industry seated along the red carpet, watched over by shoppers in the heart of Orchard Road. This year, the media launch for the festival is at Sentosa Cove, with models walking out from a yacht.
With its rows of shop houses used by top graphic artists and fashion designers, Haji Lane is one of Singapore’s up-and-coming trendy places. Lifestyle brands, record labels and a mini-cinema co-exist alongside traditional sheesha joints, textile shops and a jazz bar and restaurant.
The setting provided an ideal backdrop for a local design and music magazine, FL.ag to arrange its first anniversary party, in collaboration with brand icon Tiger Beer.
The brewing giant established Tiger Beer Translate, an initiative to support arts, photography and design creativity in Asia.
The two elements seemed a perfect match, but the location had one drawback that demanded creative solutions.
“The Golden Mosque is two streets away and the local Muslim community was opposed to alcohol consumption,” says Daniel Chong, business developer of Alt Networks and publisher of FL.ag magazine.
Art canvasses made by local graphic designers Phunk Studio and international ones like Rostarr and Faile for Tiger Translate were exhibited in the participating outlets and displayed along the shophouses.
A DJ set the mood and shops were open till midnight for the crowds still gearing up to party. For Chong, convincing sponsors was another challenge since they didn’t believe that a street party would work.
For some brands, belief and the desire to push the boundaries is the key to their success. For Heineken, its marketing strategy of associating the brand with cutting-edge music and funky venues has met with huge success.
“The Heineken Green Room Sessions have become one of the most desirable music series to be created for an exclusive audience in Singapore,” said Desmond Tan, marketing manager for Heineken in Singapore.
Since 2000, Heineken has been offering Singapore’s private and public sector ways to see Singapore as a vibrant entertainment destination. By taking its events away from the confines of the usual club setting, Heineken has been one of the most active and influential players in the country’s entertainment scene and organisers of parties at unusual venues.
Heineken’s concept of “Explore a Different Space” has led it to throw large-scale rooftop parties, such as on an eighth-floor open-air car park in the central business district in 2005, named Elevation 280. The tagline was “Heineken Music elevates Singapore party scene to new heights” and was followed by another event in 2006, held on a helipad at the Harbourfront Centre.
The lure of these unique venues drew large crowds.
Organising these festival-like music events such as Elevation 280, took at least four months of planning and a week to assemble, with over 15 truck-loads of staging, lighting, sound equipment and stalls.
“Heineken has been involved in a staggering 45 individual events, which have attracted over 100,000 people,” says David Lette, senior brand manager for Heineken in Singapore.
“Outside of dedicated music event organisers such as Zouk and Womad, this would make us one of the biggest players in Singapore’s music scene – and certainly the biggest corporate player.”
There is nothing like beer, good music, beautiful art pieces and people to enliven an event, but often the success of these events focus on space.
The more congested the city, the more successful the event becomes when it is able to dispel these misconceptions and surprise everyone.
This new generation of event organisers in Singapore is showing just how imaginatively urban space can be found and creatively transformed.
Singapore’s Favourite Haunts
Getting into the spirit of things
According to the Chinese calendar, the seventh lunar month is Ghost Month and the 15th day of the month (usually sometime in August) is the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, when the gates of Hell are opened.
This is a time when visitors will find many Singaporean Chinese burning candles and joss-sticks, making offerings of cakes, fruits and other foods to appease the famished spirits, and a time when children are warned not stay out late at night.
Of course, it’s not just the Chinese who have their ghost stories, the Malays have their bomohs or witch-doctors, Westerners brought the party spirits of Halloween and the other ethnic groups of Singapore can all add their own eerie tales.
One of the more unusual ways for your group to see Singapore and learn about its past is to take a Ghoulish Tour organised by Singapore Paranormal Investigators (SPI), a team of amateur enthusiasts who also include licensed tour guides.
The SPI guides can tailor a tour to suit your group’s size, interests and, of course, levels of bravery.
The steely-nerved can take what the SPI promises to be ”a night of fun, spooks, chills and thrills for everyone” touring Singapore’s many reputed haunted spots, such as Changi Beach.
Armed with high-tech “ghost-busting devices”, SPI guides explain the many events and stories related to each particular site, ranging from known actual events such as battles or massacres to those based on local folklore, myth or superstition. It promises a journey through the historical and the hysterical, murder and mayhem.
For lesser mortals, daytime tours can be arranged to the same spots as well as nearby islands, which in years past were the homes of wandering groups of pirates.
While this kind of tour might not suit everyone, it might just be the icebreaker your corporate team needs as well as a fascinating and unforgettable way to learn about the dark and dangerous sides of Singapore’s history.
The SPI can conduct special tours for large groups with coach transport and, where applicable, sea transport arranged.
Costs will vary but start from around US$30 a head – the headless come free.
Marina Bay Sands
The Marina Bay Sands complex will include a 9,200 sqm pillarless Grand Ballroom, able to hold 8,000 people. This will be one of the largest meeting spaces of its kind in Asia. To give an idea of its scale, it’s only slightly smaller in land surface than China’s National Stadium, constructed to host the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
Due to open in 2009, Marina Bay Sands will be the centrepiece of Singapore’s efforts to turn the Marina Bay area into one of the most concentrated meetings and exhibition clusters in Asia. The Sands development will sit alongside existing facilities such as Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
When completed, the Marina Bay area will offer a combined meeting space of 200,000sqm, that’s about 10 Roman Coliseums, supported by an inventory of 10,000 hotel rooms.
On top of this, there are hundreds of shops and restaurants within walking distance.
Resorts World at Sentosa
Sentosa Island’s name means “Peace and Tranquility” in the Malay language and for decades, Sentosa has offered local Singaporeans and visitors precisely those qualities.
However, by 2010 a new integrated resort will open, offering a much wider range of options for meeting and incentive groups.
The complex will be able to host 12,000 delegates across three venues: Le Vie Showroom/ Plenary Hall (1,600 theatre-style seating), Ballroom (7,300 theatre-style seating) and 22 meeting rooms that can hold a further 3,390 people.
For incentive travel groups, there are seven indoor incentive venues within Resorts World, such as Broadway Theatre, Movie Studios, Snoopy’s Stage and Waterworld Amphitheatre.
There are also 10 outdoor incentive venues, which include The Showplace, The Bull Ring and facilities such as Universal Studios theme park, Quest Marine Life Park oceanarium, the Equarius Water Park, a Maritime Xperiential Museum and FestiveWalk, an outdoor retail, dining and entertainment experience.
Most people hate visiting a dentist, so just imagine if had 13,000 of them visiting you.
But what many of us might dread most has been welcomed with beaming smiles in Singapore, since it represents a successful bid for one of the city’s biggest conference groups ever.
The FDI Annual World Dental Congress will be held in 2009 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre and is expected to attract more than 13,000 delegates.
Singapore prides itself not only on its convention abilities but also its reputation for medical excellence, making the choice of the city an obvious one.
“Biomedical and medical sciences are key industry drivers to our economy and with our solid track record in hosting biomedical and medical events, the STB will continue our efforts to attract and grow this cluster to maintain a robust pipeline of MICE events in the years to come,” said Aloysius Arlando, assistant chief executive, Business Travel & MICE Group, Singapore Tourism Board.
As in any successful bid for medical and scientific congresses, the role played by local professionals was crucial, the 1,200 strong Singapore Dental Association lobbied its overseas counterparts.
The FDI World Dental Federation is based in France and is the one of the oldest professional associations in the world, founded back in 1900. Today there are more than 150 member associations in 130 countries, representing more than 900,000 dentists worldwide.
The size of the event and the need to secure flexible spaces for plenaries, workshops, exhibitions and other presentation sessions would put a strain on any venue. But Suntec is confident.
Suntec Singapore’s COO Pieter Idenburg, says: “ With hundreds of large events under our belt, we are well accustomed to handle expertly complex and demanding conventions and will make sure that we extend our utmost hospitality and professional service to make sure FDI 2009 is a resounding success.”
One of Singapore’s huge advantages in this field is the country’s ability to co-ordinate public and private sectors to march in step. An alliance of the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau (SECB) the specialist wing of the Singapore Tourism Board, the local representative body (in this case the SDA), venues, destination management and professional conference organisers as well as the national flag carrier Singapore Airlines, provides a burly united front when pitching for large-scale conferences. A strategy most destinations would do well to learn from.
A centrepiece of this strategy is the “Business Events (BE) in Singapore” incentive scheme. This is a generous programme of financial rewards, discounts and practical support to encourage corporates as well as associations, to choose Singapore for conferences, incentives or trade shows. The scheme allows groups to apply for assistance provided they meet certain key qualifications. More details from
— Kenny Coyle
As one of the world’s major air hubs and boasting the globally acclaimed Changi Airport, accessibility is easy. Handling four million passengers per year, Changi Airport is served by more than 70 airlines flying to more than 160 cities in 53 countries. Transport to the city centre is easy enough, with taxi, limousine and shuttle bus transfers readily available as well as the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) connections. Allow 20-30 minutes for your journey to the business districts.
Visitors to Singapore from most countries do not need a visa for stays under 30 days.
Singaporeans joke that the island has four seasons hot, hotter, wet and wetter. The truth is that lying close to the equator, Singapore offers a fairly stable all-year-round climate, with daily average temperatures ranging from 24º-31º Celsius. The monsoon rain comes from November to January, so beware when planning outdoor events. Humidity is high but Singapore has been labelled the “air-conditioned nation” for its pervasive network of cool hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and public buildings.
Assistant Chief Executive BT&MICE
Singapore Tourism Board
Tel: +65 68313 317
Fax: +65 67347223
Singapore is finding a new niche for itself, shaking off its old staid reputation and embracing innovation and imagination in the events field, reports Kenny CoyleIn the past few years, Singapore has been undergoing a profound personality change rather than merely a cosmetic makeover and seems all the better for it.
The island state still proudly retains the core values of safety, security, business efficiency and reliability that have had corporate meetings and incentive groups flocking there for years. However, today’s visitors will also find a new focus on arts and culture as well as the evergreen Singaporean favourites of eating and shopping.
The island state is actively shaking off its stiff and starched reputation and stressing that diversity not uniformity, creativity and not conformity are the hallmarks of the new Singapore.
Singaporeans have always had to reckon with the limitations of territory, population and a lack of natural resources and have had to be inventive to survive and prosper. There aren’t many cities, after all, that can boast a Night Safari such as that of Singapore Zoo.
Imagination and innovation, therefore, are not such alien concepts to the Lion City as some of Singapore’s detractors of yesteryear liked to suggest.
Aloysius Arlando, assistant chief executive (Business Travel and MICE Group), at Singapore Tourism Board, says: “We cannot rest on our laurels and rely on well-entrenched strengths such as state-of-the-art infrastructure and world-class leisure offerings to continue to draw discerning business travellers from all over the world.
“Singapore needs to go beyond being a venue for business events.
“A dynamic and integrated business events city needs to continue to innovate and think out of the box to ‘wow’ business travellers, and value-add their experience in Singapore. In this regard, Singapore must leverage the key industries that make up our economic base, and capitalise upon our talents, technology and global business networks. “
Such is the country’s commitment to more open thinking that the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts has launched a Creative Industries Development Strategy, which has organised a series of summits, conferences and other events to encourage innovative entrepreneurs, designers and artists to meet and share new ideas and approaches.
Singapore built a solid reputation as one of the world’s top destinations for the conference and incentives sector upon the quality of its infrastructure, hotels and venues.
The clusters of luxury hotels around Marina Bay and Orchard Road continue to provide world-class accommodation, dining and meetings space. Suntec International Convention and Exhibition Centre keeps on winning business worldwide, despite the emergence of regional rivals, and Singapore Tourism Board’s BT MICE division is actively promoting the city around the globe.
However, alongside this well ordered and planned infrastructure, conference and incentive visitors will find a much more relaxed city than before and one which is actively nurturing the kind of creativity that the events sector craves.
Another factor that Arlando points to is Singapore’s compact size, what might seem a disadvantage in some respects can also be a boon.
“Singapore’s arts and heritage district is conveniently integrated with the financial and business district, with offices and meeting venues often interspersed with arts and culture venues. Major arts institutions like the Esplanade, The Arts House at the Old Parliament or the Asian Civilisations Museum are within walking distance from offices, convention centres, hotels and eating establishments. Performances take place from early to late evening, and museums and commercial galleries often open till 9 pm.
“The business visitor will find himself spoiled for choices for leisure and cultural options after meeting hours, and charmed by the sheer convenience of being able to combine a good meal with an excellent show without ever straying very far from his meeting venue or hotel. ?In addition, many of these iconic and unique arts venues offer MICE visitors quality facilities and events for hosting corporate events, or offer alternative leisure activity following their meetings.
“Complemented by the diverse arts activties, world-class arts infrastructure and venues, and active arts community, Singapore also offer MICE visitors an expanded circle of contacts and many networking and businesses opportunities,” Arlando says.
One development that marked a key turning point toward creativity was the construction of the Esplanades – Theatres on the Bay, a project that opened its doors in October 2002.
The complex has not only established itself as one of the premier performing arts centres in Asia but it also provides a focus for corporate hospitality at the many art exhibitions and performances. From cocktail receptions and dinners on the Roof Terrace, to the use of theatres and auditoriums for more formal speeches and presentations, the Esplanade adds to planner choice.
Certainly for event planners the increasing range of venues and backdrops is impressive. Major entertainment, accommodation and conference facilities are on their way in the Singapore Marina area and on Sentosa island (see page28).
The Singapore Flyer, a giant 165m-high observation wheel will be built alongside the Marina. Each capsule can hold 28 people and is already being promoted as an ideal venue for corporate cocktails, product launches and even meetings with a difference. A dam will turn the Marina into a large lagoon, offering new options for waterborne activities and events.
There are transformations on a smaller scale too around the island.
St James Power Station has been rebuilt as an entertainment and nightlife spot, while the Rochester Park district has become a haven for fine dining.
The island state is also determined to make further use of its geography by greatly expanding its cruise terminal facilities.
With this recharged infrastructure and a new generation of event organisers coming to the fore, Singapore seems confident it can hold its international status.
The result of these transformations for meetings and incentive organisers will be a new-look, new-feel Singapore that promises to be a very different destination from the one they used to know.
Pacific World Singapore
Contact: Victor Seah, director of international sales
In their own words
What makes Pacific World a respected trailblazer in the meetings and events industry is the ability to seamlessly integrate all of these resources to create a cost effective and unique program that guarantees an achievement of the clients’ goals.
The MINT Organization
Contact: Andrew Thien
In their own words
The MINT Organization exists to provide your business with performance improvement programmes and solutions, which cost effectively drive performance while communicating your key messages to a variety of audiences.
Contact: Peter Chua
In their own words
Siam Express provides a comprehensive range of creative services from conception to completion. Their core purpose is to provide result-oriented event to meet our valuable clients’ requirements and budgets.
Contact: Alvin Chan/Vivian Chen
In their own words
Orient Explorer offers a spectrum of travel services servicing the needs of corporate meeting planners, exhibition and conference organisers in Singapore and throughout South East Asia. They pride themselves in providing high quality, creative and personalised services to the changing needs of their clients.
Contact: Maya Kuchit
In their own words
Convention Links is a conference, events management, trade show management and event consultancy firm based in Singapore. It provides full professional and personalised service for a cost-effective event in Singapore, Malaysia and the throughout Asia Pacific.
Contact Eunice Chua
In their own words
We have a team focused on handling these exclusive events whose members have a wealth of experience in managing hotel reservations, organising themed events, sightseeing tours, special interest tours, meeting and seminar arrangements and much more.