A 'professor' of Mice, restaurateurs and hotel with robots among winners in STB awards

Mrs Janet Tan-Collis was awarded a lifetime achievement accolade at the Singapore Tourism Awards on Thursday.
Mrs Janet Tan-Collis was awarded a lifetime achievement accolade at the Singapore Tourism Awards on Thursday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran was the guest-of-honour at the Singapore Tourism Awards.
Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran was the guest-of-honour at the Singapore Tourism Awards.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Mrs Janet Tan-Collis was awarded a lifetime achievement accolade at the Singapore Tourism Awards on Thursday.
Mrs Janet Tan-Collis was awarded a lifetime achievement accolade at the Singapore Tourism Awards on Thursday. PHOTO: SINGAPORE MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY

SINGAPORE - Call her "professor" Janet Tan-Collis.

Now and then, the tourism veteran would pop into classrooms at polytechnics and other education institutions to share her experience in trying to grow Singapore's meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) sector.

The hope, she says, is to inspire and develop the interests of students who desire to gain a foothold in the industry.

"I do a 'professor for the day' as and when I'm needed," she said. "There is a shortage of entrepreneurship and talent in our Mice industry. If you add a lot of that zest and charm (from students), I think the industry will be really just spectacular."

It is an important sector for Singapore. Last year, the Mice segment generated $611 million in tourism receipts.

For her efforts, Mrs Tan-Collis, the president of the Singapore Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers since 2013, was awarded a lifetime achievement accolade at the Singapore Tourism Awards on Thursday.

She was among the four individuals and two organisations clinching top honours at the awards ceremony, organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). Another 25 took home prizes in the three award categories of customer service, experience excellence and enterprise excellence. Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran gave out the awards.

Michelin Guide Singapore, represented by Robert Parker Wine Advocate and Michelin Asia Pacific, was awarded Breakthrough Contribution to Tourism for bringing the culinary guide here and boosting Singapore's brand as a foodie heaven.

Meanwhile, The Lo & Behold Group's founders Wee Teng Wen and Daniel He received the Outstanding Tourism Entrepreneur award for the stable of dining concepts and eateries that they have built over the past decade.

"In many ways, Singapore was very different back then," said Mr Wee, 37. "There was no Dempsey, no Clarke Quay. Singapore had a reputation for being very flat and sterile."

So he threw himself into developing outlets with strong local inspiration in their menus and decor, he said.

In the field of enterprise excellence, hotel operator UE Park Avenue International won Best Business Innovation for adopting two robots in housekeeping operations.

"We've totally freed up the room attendants from carrying heavy items and making multiple trips to the back of the house," said general manager Ryan Sun, 54, adding that they now have more time to interact with guests.

Pointing to the growing role of technology in the industry, Mrs Tan-Collis said: "I think digital marketing will be the order of the day, and cyber security will be a big issue - but I don't see it as a problem. I see it as an opportunity for Singapore to step up."

In his opening speech at the ceremony, STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said: "These awards aim to raise industry standards and showcase the best of what Singapore tourism has to offer."

He added: "Raising industry capabilities and up-skilling is vital to ensure sustainable tourism growth. This entails adopting good business practices and innovating to adapt to a fast-changing environment."

Last year, the tourism sector welcomed a high of 16.4 million visitors, who spent a record $24.8 billion.