Exhibition Showcase talks to Priscilla Leong, Honorary Secretary SACEOS;

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ES – What is SACEOS. What is the role of SACEOS in the Singapore exhibition industry? What has SACEOS been able to achieve since its inception? Please share some statistics if you can?
Priscilla – SACEOS stands for Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & Suppliers. The association was set up in 1979 to be the voice and champion of the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry, to help those in the business to develop and prosper. Training has been and continues to be a cornerstone of SACEOS and it is a strategic pillar for the association to help industry members as Singapore and Asia grapple with greater competition from other regions, fight for talent, as well as manage and retain talent. SACEOS achieved a milestone in this area in 2014 by bringing professional courses with international accreditation, only available in Europe and the US previously, to Singapore and accessible to MICE practitioners throughout Asia. Since it was set up, SACEOS has developed and strengthened its regional and international MICE industry network with the associations and convention/exhibition bureaus which provides global networking and business opportunities for its local members. Some of the other milestones achieved in the recent years include, attaining the EIC Preferred Partner status with the Events Industry Council (EIC) and being the first Association in Asia to provide educational offerings which are all accredited with Continuing Education (CE) hours by EIC.Such CE hours can be used by industry members when they are ready to pursue the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) accreditation. SACEOS has also expanded its outreach in this aspect by providing educational programme not only for the locals, but also to the region, for instance, in Korea, Malaysia and China. SACEOS has also conducted its first Train-the-Trainers programme for MACEOS for two of its foundation courses in 2015. Education aside, SACEOS remains continuously engaged with the local government agencies to build and strengthen the MICE industry in Singapore. For instance, we work closely with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) for the alignment of industry growth while we work with the Workforce Singapore (WSG) & e2i for the alignment of manpower support and raising professionalism of our industry members. Apart from being the advocate of our industry, SACEOS is also an advocate of Sustainability practices. In fact, SACEOS is, again, the first Association in the region to develop a sustainability certification programme for the industry – MICE Sustainability Certification (MSC) which certifies on 2 certification levels (i.e. Basic and Intermediate) for 9 different sectors within the MICE industry. MSC is posed as a bridge for organisations who are keen to pursue the ISO/APEX sustainability standards and to date, SACEOS has certified 06 organisations with the MSC programme.

ES – How do your view the relevance of exhibitions in today’s era? How can they become even more relevant?
Priscilla – Exhibitions continues to be very relevant today as there will always be a need for people to interact as well as to get a touch and feel of new products been introduced to the market. In view of the amount of things competing for the attention for visitors to the exhibitions, we need to be able to provide the necessary content and enhance visitor experience to bring in and keep the visitors engaged. We would need to make the exhibitor as well as visitor experience more integrated into their normal life especially with Technology, pandering to a new generation of digital natives but at the same time balancing the needs of digital immigrants at this point in time.

ES – How is the role of face to face evolving in this digital era? What is the change happening?
Priscilla – Physical face to face meetings will still have big role to play even though on-line face to face meetings are catching on with better image and voice quality from the newer software which often even comes free of charge. Nevertheless, we are not seeing any significant decline in physical face to face meetings as attendee levels at exhibitions continue to remain healthy in general.

ES – What are the opportunities or bright spots for Singapore exhibition industry?
Priscilla – Singapore has and will continue to be a leader for the exhibitions industry at least in S.E.A mainly in the “software” that we have i.e. the quality of professionals in the industry. Singapore has a very educated workforce and we continue to invest in grooming good people to support the industry. Singapore is blessed to be located where we are not much impacted by natural disaster and being a small country, will be better able to manage any security threats more efficiently, should they arise.

ES – How do you view the Indian industry? What do you personally like about the Indian scenario?
Priscilla – The Indian exhibition industry has a lot of potential as growth is imminent as the country grows and prosper. With the back of more government and state support to enhance the infrastructure, simplifying tax and customs regulations to promote trade, this augurs well exhibitions industry in India.

ES – Exhibitions are a busy industry and you keep travelling so often. How do you maintain work life balance?
Priscilla – Spending quality time with my husband and serving in church helps me to find my balance in life.

ES – What are SACEOS key events ?
Priscilla – Three of the key events organised by SACEOS are SMF (previously known as the Singapore MICE Forum), ABM (Asia Business Meet) as well as SMC (Singapore MICE Challenge). These events are always held in the second half of every July in Singapore.
SMF2018 is a forum which aimed to bring people from all disciplines and not just the MICE sector to interact and engage in a fun and interactive manner to connect the dots. This year’s edition will be held on the 24 and 25 July 2018 at Victoria Theatre and The Arts House. You may wish to read more on our SMF2018 using this link here www.smf2018.org.

Our ABM brings together buyers from the Asia, Europe and North America to Singapore for a one to one meeting between buyers and suppliers; as well as a FAM trip all rolled into one. This interactive and engaging platform allows both parties to build a meaningful and longer-term business relationship over the few days of intimate contact. In this year’s edition of ABM2018, we aim to bring a total of 55 high quality buyers to Singapore. Interested buyers and suppliers can contact us at www.asiabusinessmeet.org.
SMC is a platform created by SACEOS to develop and showcase young talents of our industry. This challenge had gained traction nationally with almost all the Singapore’s tertiary institutions with a hospitality program in their curriculum, taking part in the competition. Winners from previous years were sent to PCMA’s Convening Leaders’ Congress in North America, where they were given platforms to present to a huge International audience. The first runners-up of SMC were sent to participate in AFECA Asia MICE Youth Challenge and our students have been winning accolades in their few years of participation.

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