Ideas for Singapore this July was held with Mathias Kuepper, Vice General Manager of Koelnmesse Co., Ltd, one of the global leaders in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) sector.
Mathias is currently stationed here in Beijing by the Koelnmesse’s Asian Pacific headquarters(Singapore) and has worked in Singapore, Shanghai, Germany and other big cities prior to this. He reflected that the MICE sector is important to Singapore, and the Government strongly supports this.
Quality over quantity for Singapore — While Mathias spoke of the weak domestic demand for MICE due to our small local population, he highlights that the quality of the conferences produced in Singapore is always high, supported by the availability of expertise in strong cutting edge technologies for specific sectors. He mentioned some of these, such as dentistry, engineering design and cleantech. Quality is especially important for delegates seeking more than just networking and business opportunities but learning and reaping knowledge from these events. As an observer, there is a trend in Singapore, and increasingly, worldwide conferences where organisers provide delegates with pre- and post-conferences workshops in collaboration with institutions such as local universities and industry leaders. In clean technology, it is even more relevant and immediately obvious for Singapore because of our long time investments in creating our eventual expertise in water treatment, waste treatment, refinery and other clean technologies.
China is key — Mathias revealed that Singapore conferences, despite smaller in scale, generate greater revenue. Attendees and exhibitors value these conferences because they recognize the benefits to their businesses; paying 600SGD compared to 600rmb per square meter of exhibition space. (a simple example). To see Koelnmesse’s investments in China holding these events here, it further highlights the fact that China is a big global consumer and supplier of goods and services that no company should ignore right now, or afford to do so in the future. “If we don’t do it, some other companies will do it”.
Singapore no longer a stepping stone — Mathias reiterated that Singapore shouldn’t, can’t and actually is no longer a stepping stone into China; people enter China directly nowadays. However, Singapore is still a key ASEAN country for them and other MICE companies because of our political stability and strong financial support.
It is nice to know that for foreigners like Mathias and many international companies, Singapore is still chosen as a Asia Pacific headquarters and Singaporeans still have our strengths. However, we should always be seeking new ways to improve, working on our strengths to ensure we still remain relevant among the rapidly developing economic powers with strong domestic markets such as China, India and Indonesia.