Singapore’s themed MICE events offer a break from the conventional
MICE participants in the Lion City can enjoy a variety of creative new experiences, often hosted in unusual spaces
Being ordinary in the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry is the kiss of death for many operators. But in Singapore, a whole raft of new venues and experiences is taking the conventional and giving it a new twist, thanks to government support.
“Singapore is a great location for industry events,” says Melody Liu, marketing professional and event organiser. “There are many amazing venues. To promote the MICE industry, the government offers many grants and subsidies to international event organisers.”
Boosting this is a new development that has seen new spaces opening up. “Lately a lot of shared workspaces have also opened up their space after work hours as event venues, which is quite interesting; these include galleries and museums, and of course theatres that also offer space for private and commercial events,” Liu says.
Some examples of these spaces include the ArtScience Museumat Marina Bay Sands, The Red Dot Design Museum, The Esplanade, Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and National Design Centre. For the more unconventional, there is the Gardens by the Bay offering outdoor splendour; the Night Safari; cruising on the Royal Albatross; marine extravaganzas at S.E.A. Aquarium; and ascending the city on the Singapore Flyer.
Serviced apartments are an integral part of Singapore’s MICE landscape as they are often used as event spaces for “cosy” dinners or exclusive events, with apartments of different configurations at their disposal.
Fraser Suites is popular for its tranquil location, yet close enough to bustling central business district (CBD) and Orchard Road.
Closer to the CBD is Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore, which is a 268-unit luxury serviced apartment building with boardroom and meeting facilities.
While the range of venues is expanding from the usual suspects, another development has been the type of events that are being promoted. The MICE industry sees everything, from spas to concerts, Formula One, escape rooms, virtual reality and more – all being incorporated into its offerings. The challenge to keep talent and reward high performers has gone way beyond just having a buffet, drinks and a nice resort to stay in.
Marina Bay Sands, for example, hosted an Edwardian-themed Downton Abbey Exhibition, held within a MICE expo hall at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre. While fans of Downton Abbey, the award-winning television series that depicted the decline of the British aristocracy in its grandiose country estates, must have been excited by these developments, it also showed what MICE venues and teams are capable of creating.
There is no doubt that this venture, part of an exhibit open to the public by NBCUniversal and Imagine Exhibitions, was a gargantuan effort. It recreated scenes from the series and was designed to make visitors feel as if they were actually inside the Downton Abbey estate.
“We built high exterior walls, ceilings in certain areas, added various floorings, a lower lighting grid, sounds, video and even scents to give visitors an immersive feeling, as though they were visiting the original home,” says Tom Zaller, president and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions. “Our primary goal was to transform the expo hall to the greatest extent possible.”
There is little doubt the expo hall’s high ceilings and design of the exhibition centre made it possible to create an intimate experience; this was further heightened by using characters, costumes and locations from the period.
“The show is extremely large and immersive – much larger than most normal galleries will accommodate,” Zaller adds. “Expo halls are actually the perfect setting for experiences like this as the physical space was great for us to work in. It also gave us an excellent opportunity to focus on the details of each environment, with plenty of space to make any adjustments to re-create the authentic Downton experience,”
The potential for other experiences is big. Whether cinematic, sport, or entertainment themed, as MICE becomes more competitive, professionals will arrive with greater expectations.