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Purpose of SACEOS is unchanged 40 years from its beginning

SACEOS remains committed to be the leading industry association to enhance Singapore's position as a central MICE hub.

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Changi Experience Studio at Jewel Changi Airport. Set up in 1979, SACEOS is aimed at championing MICE events in Singapore, helping the growth of this industry in terms of capacity building and training to ensure Singapore retains its status as an attractive destination in the Asia-Pacific region.

STEPPING into its 40th year, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) organiser Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (SACEOS) stand by their founding principle - to be the leading industry association to enhance Singapore's position as a central hub for this industry.

Set up in 1979, SACEOS is aimed at championing MICE events in Singapore, helping the growth of this industry in terms of capacity building and training to ensure Singapore retains its status as an attractive destination in the Asia-Pacific region, amid the constantly changing external environment and greater competition from other regions.

Over the past 40 years, SACEOS has been a key player in much of the Republic's growth into a MICE hub, with the organisation being intimately involved in Singapore's strategies to grow this sector. In an interview with The Business Times, president of SACEOS, Aloysius Arlando, charts the achievements of the organisation and key points that SACEOS should be taking note of moving into the future.

The setting up of dedicated sectors such as the Singapore Expo, Suntec Conventions Centre were key achievements for SACEOS, being a part of "the development and tourism blueprints that have emerged over the past 40 years", said Mr Arlando. The development and establishment of the Integrated Resorts were also critical developments to the MICE industry in Singapore which, he said, points towards what the industry sees "as the next big thing".

Three core values that form the pillars of SACEOS are: commerce development, capabilities enhancement, and community engagement. These values sum up the five key areas which, as Mr Arlando puts it, "reconstituted our constitution". These include: professional development, industry and enterprise, digital and innovation, community and advocacy and communications.

Each of the three key approaches ensure that SACEOS stays relevant and ensures that Singapore as a MICE events destination remains competitive.

To strengthen commerce developments, understanding and keeping pace with the rapidly changing industry is key, so SACEOS works with the relevant industry leaders to understand significant transformations in their sectors.

Capabilities building needs to be harnessed as well, with capitalising on both physical and digital platforms being a significant aspect of better enabling business and trade events in order to improve the quality of these events. Being alert to developments and disruption in industry will allow organisers like SACEOS to "seize the emerging opportunities . . . so that (SACEOS) can curate platforms that bring about value," said Mr Arlando.

REACHING OUT TO COMMUNITIES

Learning how to blend digital engagement with physical engagement is crucial, because the increasing importance of the digital sphere effectively changes how business and trade events function. Events need to move beyond the traditional buy-and-sell format, and evolve into a centre for value exchanges.

Strengthening resonance with customers is essential, said Mr Arlando, who pointed out that understanding the customer as a valuable unit with changing needs and demands is important. A customer is likely to be a part of communities which have specific needs and challenges.

Reaching out to communities by engaging with adjacent associations such as SGTech for technological collaboration or other Asean industry associations on a regional level opens up opportunities for collaborative learning in the MICE events space. This is essential given that the whole notion of business growth and trade requires SACEOS to work with different partners. "And more often than not, solutions can be found by working closer together," adds Mr Arlando.

Some of the biggest and most vibrant exhibitions and tradeshows have been put together by SACEOS, such as the Singapore MICE Forum (SMF). SMF aims to foster expertise and knowledge sharing, creating opportunities to strengthen networks and capabilities and spur business growth for the sector.

In SMF 2019, SACEOS partnered with other regional trading associations and technology companies to build stronger long-term collaborations, accelerate digital transformation for the MICE industry and facilitate knowledge sharing for mutual growth. This fits in well with the core values that SACEOS embodies.

MICE is a continuously evolving industry, explains Mr Arlando. Being plugged into key regional and global like-minded players such as The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry is necessary for organisations like SACEOS. As events platforms transform, it is critical that business events also change accordingly to create more value and knowledge exchanges.

The emergence of novel ways in conducting events by incorporating sandboxes, workshops and clinics enables these events to engage in multi-level platforms given economic transformation since 40 years ago. Moving forward, adapting to changing environments is key.

Mr Arlando says "We are not going to solve all problems, if that's the case, we will probably not be needed.

"But what I think is important is always to be a well regarded industry association and that is what we aspire to be," he added.