Q. Do you feel that guests are ready to gather for such events?
I expect younger guests to be more open to attending for they are curious about “pandemic weddings” and how they are conducted, and for them, it’s a unique experience. Older people would think twice, as the health risks of attending are higher for them. Also with the new mandate of pre-event testing for all guests at receptions, the prospect of being swabbed for the tests may be off-putting for some.
Q. Now that weddings are allowed, do you foresee a wedding boom happening in Singapore?
A wedding boom is expected to happen in Singapore late 2022. At that point, a large majority of the population will be vaccinated. Social events like receptions can begin to see a comeback, and attendees won’t have to worry so much about pre-event tests and other restrictions.
Some safety management measures will remain, like safe distancing, smaller group sizes and the wearing of masks.
Q. In terms of recovery of the MICE industry, will physical meetings, conferences and exhibitions make a come-back?
The return of physical events depends on the rollout of vaccines across the region, and the coordinated approach between governments about how to live with covid-19. Singapore has adopted a plan to live with the virus, where it aims to vaccinate its population and sustain protection via regular booster shots. Under the plan, the city-state envisions that the virus will be treated like the common flu.
Q. The trend in meetings, conferences, and exhibitions, is to have them online, will hybrid events be the future of the MICE industry?
Hybrid events will become the norm for event organisation. It is a way for the MICE industry to make a partial comeback. Countries which need more time to open their borders, could still participate in overseas events via virtual means.
In fact, hybrid event platforms may even become an essential part of the MICE industry. Such platforms are an additional channel to broadcast your event to a wider audience than a physical event would normally have.
Hybrid events could be more cost-effective for companies and event organisers from the flying in of guests and speakers as they had done previously, a hybrid event enables those overseas to join in real-time from where they are.
Q. Can you elaborate on the new set of challenges in organising events?
The new set of challenges includes the amount of uncertainty for the organisers in getting attendance numbers, crowd control and having to set aside higher budgets than before.
Also with the pandemic, the cancellation or execution of an event depends on the number of cases in the host country. In Singapore, the spike in cases early this year led to the cancellation of the World Economic Forum.
Then, there is the need for guests to adhere to safe distancing and other measures, which can impact the event experience. Organisers will need to find a balance between safety and offering an enjoyable event experience for those who attend in person.
Q. What is your take on the recent openings of new hotels in the Asia Pacific region?
Hospitality players are taking this opportunity to ramp up their openings of new hotels. Taking into account that, pre-opening or soft opening periods of six months where the teams identify and solve teething issues. It then takes another three to four months for a hotel to be ready for the formal opening.
By the time markets start to recover, teething issues would be ironed out and hotels will be ready to welcome their guests
Q. Is this a sign that the hospitality industry is on the rebound?
Yes, demand is expected to return in the middle of 2022, and potentially stronger than before. This is due to pent-up demand, and strong support and efforts by the individual governments for the industry.
Q. Established hotels around the world, are struggling with occupancy can these new hotels fill their room capacity?
The industry is optimistic about occupancy rates, as the proposed supply of rooms is believed to be adequate and necessary to cater to the expected increase in demand. The new players are of mid-scale to luxury hotels, which will appeal to a variety of travellers.
Although the pandemic has slowed business, it also provided the opportunity for most hotels to review their products and services, as well as a chance to experiment with new processes and technology, such as contactless service and cleaning robots.