Singapore is one of the world's major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports. In terms of meetings, Singapore is a huge lion!
For a young country - after all modern Singapore was achieved only about 30 years after the former British colony gained independence in 1965 - the Lion City, or ‘the little red dot’ as it is also often referred to, has been particularly successful. Even though it will only reach middle age in human terms when it turns 50 years old in 2015, Singapore has expanded, developed and improved over the last decades like few other destinations.
Thanks to an ideal location, at the crossroads of the West and the East, Singapore has always been a very vital and prosperous trading and interlining hub and as such a central location for international exhibitions and conferences. It’s no secret the city has emerged a regular champion again in the Union of International Associations’ (UIA) ranking of top international meeting cities and countries: in 2012, it hosted 952 meetings, up from 919 in 2011. I’m pretty confident it won’t rest on its laurels.
As a global business and financial hub, Singapore is home to the Asian headquarters of some of the world’s leading multinational companies. It is also where about 150 International Non-Profit Organisations (INPOs) including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Tax Free World Association (TTWA), International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI), or the International Air Transport Association (IATA) just to name a few, are based. This number has more than quadrupled since 2005. It’s easy to see why Singapore has developed into a premier business events destination: If you want to attract more members to your organisation or more delegates to your conference, the Lion City is the place to be, especially since it’s so accessible from pretty much everywhere in the world.
Over the years, the city-state has been enhancing and providing a slew of compelling leisure offerings and world-class attractions to all its visitors, often from scratch, and sometimes on land that was reclaimed from the sea: the idea is also for delegates to not only spend their days through fruitful meetings and conferences in Singapore but also to experience its unique offerings from delightful cultural enclaves to a variety of exciting entertainment and leisure options.
As a place for meetings, Singapore seems to be unmatched. It is a safe, and reliable destination, with its excellent infrastructure matched only with its software; which is supported by its professional MICE industry and government partners for successful meetings held in Singapore. Its compactness makes it possible for people to interact easily. Its expertise when it comes to hosting conferences will make any event a success. Its can-do attitude and drive for innovation will seduce the most demanding association planner. In short, Singapore might well be your next destination.
Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre
The largest HD video wall in the world, 30 chefs with the capacity to cater for up to 10,000 delegates per day, new air-conditioning systems and next-generation LED lighting that is both eco-friendly and power-saving, built-in state-of-the-art technology around every corner, a plenary hall for over 6,000 delegates, no less 36 meeting rooms, 28 movable walls, 22,000 m2 of exhibition halls… the figures at Suntec Singapore will surely make you dizzy.
Reopened in June 2013, after a top-to-bottom modernisation programme, the convention and exhibition centre now offers event organisers flexible customisable space. The idea of the year-long, S$184 million renovation was to redesign the venue from ground up to create a highly flexible and customisable environment capable of giving planners the correct space in the shape, size and configuration they need.
Arun Madhok, Chief Executive of Suntec International, explains: ‘Our new centre has been designed with customisation in mind. Rooms can be transformed into different shapes and sizes to meet the requirements of each event. Embedded technology and sensors automatically configure the temperature, lighting and audio controls to manage the new space seamlessly.’
Located at the centre of Singapore, a stone’s throw from the main hotels and the Central Business District, Suntec Singapore likes to think it’s one step ahead from its competitors… and rightly so. As Arun puts it: ‘Our forte is the way we focus on your event. We are venue managers dedicated to creating the best experiences for our customers. That’s where our expertise lies. When you do business with us, you will have a single point of contact during your entire event, our dedicated team of meeting professionals will help whenever, wherever you need. Furthermore, we are Pharmacode compliant, which makes it easy for medical events to be organised here.’
Singapore Expo & MAX Atria
Conveniently located five minutes from Changi International Airport and fifteen minutes from the city centre, easily accessible by public transport, Singapore EXPO Convention and Exhibition Centre has become, since its inauguration in 1999, a top-ranked venue in Asia and Singapore’s largest purpose-built MICE facility.
Covering over 123,000 m2 of indoor and outdoor space, comprising all the amenities you can wish for - exhibition halls, conference halls, meeting rooms, mobile V-Rooms, you name it - EXPO is the proud host of over 600 events a year of all sizes and format. The facility’s versatility in space configurations, together with the staff’s commitment to operational and service excellence, makes it quite easy to work with. Oh and did I mention they don’t take sustainability lightly? Abiding by the ‘Recycle, Reuse and Reduce’ principle, they can help organisers and delegates reduce their collective carbon footprint!
As if this was not enough, EXPO opened, two years ago a brand-new convention wing, MAX Atria, with additional meeting facilities and leafy green spaces. The impression it makes to the visitor is indeed that of an oasis in urban surroundings: the rooftop terrace and the garden courtyard are delegates’ favorites, and you easily understand why. The expansive floor-to-ceiling windows, lush landscaping and graceful interiors are most evident; what is not - and this is where the facility has raised the industry benchmark - are its energy-efficient measures that have marked it as the first purpose-built meeting venue in Singapore to attain the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Platinum Award.
No wonder, then, that MAX Atria promises no less than ‘Conventions redefined’. As it was developed to meet the requests of demanding planners: the extension, adjoining EXPO Halls 1 and 2, features 32 column-free rooms with spacious foyers, accommodates over 3,500 people in spaces versatile enough to be configured for meetings, banquets, light exhibitions and such.
Sands Expo & Convention Centre
You must have been living on another planet if you have not heard about Marina Bay Sands before. Its infinity pool has been featured in lifestyle magazines the world over, and its sense of enormity, complete with a 99% occupancy rate I was told, a casino, a shopping mall, endless entertainment and dining options and much more, has seduced visitors and guests alike. Lesser known is that the facility boasts large convention facilities, with the aptly named Sands Expo & Convention Centre.
Again, the numbers here speak for themselves: there are not many congress halls in the world that can accommodate mega events like this. The Sands Expo and Convention Centre boasts almost 400,000 m2 of flexible convention and exhibition space. It can host over 45,000 delegates, 2,000 exhibition booths and 250 meeting rooms. It features Southeast Asia’s biggest ballroom, which can accommodate 6,600 people for a banquet and up to 11,000 for an auditorium-style lecture.
Organisers and delegates being increasingly more concerned about sustainability, the Sands Expo and Convention Centre has incorporated sustainable practices into its facilities. As the first conference venue outside America to receive Level One certification by ASTM International, it has put sustainability at the forefront. February has also seen the integrated resort obtain the 20121 Sustainable Events Management System certification - the Sands, as many people fondly call it, is the first MICE facility in South East Asia to achieve this recognition. It comes hardly as a surprise, then, that events like the Responsible Business Forum should choose the venue to hold its debates.
More than 3,800 delegates from 122 countries, hundreds of sessions, dozens of official meetings, translations in 6 languages and tens of thousands of discussions: this is what the World Library and Information Congress, which was held for a week in August 2013 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre, is all about.
The 79th International Federation of Library Associations & Institutions World Library and Information Congress is the annual flagship event for the library and information sector, where the global library community debates and explores the latest developments in library sciences and technologies from around the world.
More than 400 thought leaders and library professionals shared their vision, perspectives on trends and developments, expertise and best practices, in August 2013 in Singapore. Speakers included Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee, one of Esquire’s 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century, and Director of Asia Journalism Fellowship Dr Cherian George. About 2,000 volunteers from the libraries in Singapore also provided outstanding services to all conference goers for regular meetings, cultural events, conference logistics, and library visits.
The number of participants turned out to be the highest figure for the Congress held in Asia. According to a post-event survey, 92% of respondents judged the Congress overall good or somewhat good, one of the most highly rated results in recent years, reflecting the strong quality of content and overall event experience.
Organisers leveraged Singapore’s multi-cultural society to create memorable experiences for delegates through both on- and off-site activities. Guests enjoyed a Cultural Evening on the beach, free entry to the museums, local performances at the Opening Ceremony and many hands-on activities such as henna painting, Chinese calligraphy and ketupat weaving in the exhibition area.
Mrs Elaine Ng, Chair of the IFLA WLIC 2013 National Committee and Chief Executive Officer of the National Library Board, said: ‘At the Congress, information professionals have the valuable opportunity to share insights and shape policies that address global challenges affecting our local communities. Librarians and information professionals must connect to the communities through services that are relevant to their needs, and connect them to the world’s knowledge and creativity.’
Besides the exchange of knowledge, the congress offered an international trade exhibition with over 80 exhibitors and an exhibition of approximately 1,000 m2. The combined buying power of all delegates was estimated at more than 1.2 billion dollars. Exhibitors included technology companies, publishers, foundations, libraries and educational institutions.
Hosted by the National Library Board and the Library Association of Singapore, the event was an opportunity for Singapore to showcase the status of libraries and information science in the country and region as well as to have their professionals experience international librarianship and international relations in a unique way. The Congress concluded with a choice of 25 library visits, ranging from a trip to the National Library of Singapore and Central Public Library to a visit out of the country to the University of Technology Malaysia Libraries.
One of Asia’s largest air hubs, Changi Airport boasts 100 international airlines flying to some 250 cities in 60 countries and territories worldwide. Efficient and easy to navigate, it is divided into three main terminals. There is also a budget terminal for low-cost carriers.
All eyes on Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines ranks among the most respected travel brands around the world. With a network to more than 60 cities spanning six continents, it’s served with a young fleet of wide body aircraft and the Singapore Girl as a symbol of quality customer care and service.
Singapore Airlines offers 9 daily departures from Brussels to the Singapore Airlines gateways in Europe using the feeder flights from our Star Alliance partners. In addition operates a daily flight from Amsterdam to Singapore and a daily flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle. The flights from Europe are operated with either the Airbus A380 the largest commercial plane in the world or by Boeing B777.
Passengers on board Singapore Airlines flights can enjoy the famous inflight service even other airlines talk about in all travel classes, including its world-renowned KrisWorld. This in-flight entertainment system presents an unprecedented range of over 1,000 entertainment options.
On your way downtown from the airport, it’s one of the first things to catch your eye. Gardens by the Bay, the new and popular venue for meetings and parties, lies on 250 acres of reclaimed land in central Singapore next to the Marina Reservoir. Conservatories house plant life normally not seen including a cloud forest that simulates the cool moist climate found in tropical areas. There’s the world’s largest man made waterfall and for entertaining there are the now famous ‘supertrees’, tree-like structures rising as high as 50 meters off the ground, the tallest of which has a 100-person bistro and bar atop that can be hired for events. You feel like you’re in the ‘Avatar’ movie! In terms of capacity, Gardens by the Bay accommodates large outdoor events, for up to 30,000 standing.
Existing properties such as Resorts World Sentosa also continue to add to their portfolios of must-see attractions. The resort is actually dazzling with six world-class hotels, Universal Studios Singapore, the Maritime Experiential Museum with its own immersive typhoon theatre, and Singapore’s largest luxury spa, ESPA at RWS. It can host over 36,000 delegates at any one time within its diversity of event spaces, from the region’s largest column-free ballroom to its 37 function rooms and over 20 unique event venues. Planners' favorites include the space at Universal Studios, whose New York Street can house up to 1,500 people, and Marine Life Park, the world’s largest oceanarium, comprising the planet’s biggest aquarium - its fascinating Ocean Gallery houses up to 320 guests.
Other venues are flexing their muscles beyond their core business too: the Singapore Flyer is not content to be simply a giant observation wheel, and organisations are not limited to holding small group cocktails aboard its private capsule. There are now a raft of special venues - from the semicircular Greek Theatre to the private Singapore Flyer Jetty - underneath the massive structure, which can be used to stage a variety of events. In this regard, smaller venues are available for more intimate gatherings, while unconventional spaces including theatres, gardens and even the ‘Fountain of Wealth’ at Suntec, can be hired out for meetings, group activities, and other events.
Singapore is not just about five-star luxury hotels: with more than 150 hotels and over 50,000 rooms, the city can cater to every budget and preference. If you like guesthouses, boutique facilities, business hotels or beach resorts, it seems Singapore has it all. Most hotels of course offer fully-equipped business centres, meeting facilities, broadband Internet access and other conveniences for business travellers.
Inspired from the dynamic cosmopolitan lifestyle of Singapore mixed with the island of Sentosa’s vibrant natural surroundings. W Singapore - Sentosa Cove adopts the same narrative, blurring the line between urban experience and a forest’s untamed nature. Here they serve so-called ‘food from the heart’ at the restaurants, while you can relax at the outdoor pool WET, and rejuvenate at AWAY Spa - making your stay most unusual. W Singapore - Sentosa Cove features 240 sea and marina facing guestrooms and meeting space for up to 500 pax. And it’s not just marketing talk when they say they offer one-of-a-kind experiences and über-assistance to any of the guests’ personal needs - it is simply tangible when you’re there.
The hotel at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre is quite impressive. With 2,561 rooms and suites over 55 floors (all with outstanding views of the South China Sea or Marina Bay and the Singapore skyline) and an array of dining experiences catering to every taste, it’s one of the largest facilities of this kind in the world. The lobby area with its fascinating hanging tree-like structure is just worth a visit, even if you don’t stay at the hotel. There is also the Sands SkyPark, a true architectural masterpiece sitting on top of the three hotel towers: this 1.2 hectare tropical oasis is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall and large enough to park four-and-a-half A380 jumbo jets! It extends to form one of the world’s largest public cantilevers. Marina Bay Sands is also home to a wide offer of entertainment options. With close to 300 shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone - from renowned celebrity chef restaurants and luxurious shopping to world-class theatre productions and fabulous nightlife.
As far as new facilities are concerned, the Westin Singapore opened at the end of 2013, with 305 rooms and 6 meeting rooms, while the Sofitel So’s first Singapore outpost was just inaugurated in the heart of the business district, with 134 rooms. The ultra-luxurious Patina Hotel will make its debut in the historical Civic District at the end 2014 as well.
Other conference hotels include Grand Copthorne Waterfront, one of the leading conference hotels in the city. With its range of versatile event spaces, 34 state-of-the-art meeting rooms, its 574 rooms overlook the historic Singapore River and combine luxurious elegance and contemporary style like no other. Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford, which might well be the epitome of hospitality, are directly connected to the Raffles City Convention Centre, offering more than 21,000 m2 of function space, with 27 meeting rooms. Very handy for residential conferences.
Last but not least there is Parkroyal on Pickering: its lofty sky gardens redefine the metropolitan skyline, while its exclusive rooftop, the Orchid Club Lounge, offers amazing 360 degree views of Singapore skyline for club room guests. Strategically located at the gateway to Singapore’s CBD, opposite Hong Lim Park, it also provides meeting space for up to 300 people. No wonder Parkroyal on Pickering is considered the greenest hotel in Singapore and has won multiple awards, including the Skyrise Greenery Award by the Singapore National Parks Board or Best Hotel Architecture Design at the latest South East Asia Property Awards, among many others.
Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.