STB, PCMA and UFI Release White Paper Reimagining the Future of Business Events 

August 13, 2021

As the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry dusts itself off and emerges from the pandemic, the need to continue envisioning innovative ways of doing business has never been greater. To help event organizers rethink their offerings and operations, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, teamed up to launch a white paper titled “Reimagining Business Events—Through COVID-19 and Beyond.”

“The pandemic has emphasized the need to innovate and be nimble in the business events sector,” said STB Chief Executive Keith Tan. “This journey of transformation is not a sprint, but a marathon that extends beyond the pandemic.”

Launched at the Singapore MICE Forum x IBTM Wired 2021 at Marina Bay Sands, which was the first hybrid version of the event, the white paper highlights key pillars and case studies to support industry transformation and points to signs of strong recovery in the Asia-Pacific and a greater appetite for digital and hybrid events.

The three pillars include Business Models, Delegate Experience and Talent and Capabilities. 

For each pillar, STB, PCMA and UFI obtained perspectives from international industry practitioners who embraced and exemplified a growth mindset and piloted innovative and successful concepts during the pandemic. The insights resulted in case studies from Singapore, Australia, Italy and the U.S. Here are some of the case study examples under each pillar:

Business Models: Singapore-based technology company GEVME applied lessons learned from an early prototype to successfully launch a new networking experience. Unexpected Atlanta kept true to its mission of sharing the history and cuisine of the American South and uncovered new revenue streams as its tours went virtual.  

Delegate Experience: Singapore’s Emerging Stronger Task Force convened an Alliance for Action that tested new ideas for business events and swiftly applied lessons to fine-tune solutions for subsequent pilots. The Italian Society of Anaesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care partnered with AIM Group International to design a traveling roadshow and a digital program to reach its association members amidst heightened restrictions across Italy.

Talent and Capabilities: The Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organizers and Suppliers co-created programs and career roadmaps to help business event professionals acquire skills required even post-pandemic. The Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre organized a hackathon, in which staff and external industry partners came up with promising concepts for new revenue streams.

“The pandemic forced us to look at how we deliver on what our audiences need and what they want to be successful for the future,” said PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat. “Our success in emerging from the pandemic is dependent on our ability to solve the transformational challenges of our audiences.”

Meanwhile, the white paper highlights strong indications of growth and innovation in the Asia-Pacific as the industry recovers from COVID-19.

Data from the upcoming “Global Recovery Insights Report” by UFI, Explori and Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) shows that exhibitions in Asia are likely to see stronger participation growth from both visitors and exhibitors, compared to the rest of the world. 

There is also a stronger demand for digital or hybrid events from respondents in Asia, who said they are more than twice as likely to have participated in such events than respondents from other regions. Furthermore, the number of events they are planning to exhibit at has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, when compared with pre-pandemic research data from 2019.

PCMA’s APAC Dashboard Survey reflects similar findings. A greater proportion of planners in Asia Pacific (38 percent) were planning to simultaneously stream their in-person events to virtual audiences, compared to their North American counterparts (17 percent). Of the APAC respondents planning a hybrid 2021 event, nearly 80 percent planned for their in-person and virtual audiences to interact, compared with 27 percent of North American planners

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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact