SINGAPORE - Singapore Expo & Max Atria has had its first in-person Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) event since the space was repurposed as a community care facility during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The opening ceremony for the third Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific (Itap) event, the region's go-to platform for exploring Industry 4.0 solutions, was a hybrid one on Tuesday (Oct 20)
A small group of attendees sat 1m apart from one another, while some 5,000 other participants from 50 countries watched the event online.
Ending on Thursday, Itap had gone hybrid for the first time, consisting of virtual activities and live-streamed events on a platform powered by artificial intelligence. It is also working with other exhibitors to conduct in-person activities held at other locations.
Itap is one of the events signalling the safe restart for Singapore's business events industry, with hybridisation and reinforced safe event management measures in place, event organiser SingEx said.
At Tuesday's opening ceremony, attendees were divided into zones of at most 50 people, with each zone further separated into groups of 10 or 20. People were not allowed to mingle across groups, with various dividers demarcating areas for each. Every group had a designated entrance.
Staggered timings for the arrival and departure for each group were also implemented.
During lunch, each group was further divided into sections of five at most and participants were given individually packed meals, with food preferences selected from a digital menu.
While the opening ceremony was attended by a live studio audience, it was also broadcast on Web platform Itap Connected, which was designed by SingEx.
The platform allows event participants to find content personalised to their preferences, find networking opportunities, and even explore a 3D Smart Factory.
They can also attend physical bolt-on activities, such as small engagement tours to locations in Singapore that showcase industrial transformation and how Industry 4.0 concepts can be deployed. The in-person activities will be streamed concurrently for virtual participants.
SingEx said: "With Covid-19 accelerating the pace at which event formats must continually evolve to meet customers' needs, industry stakeholders' continued participation in trade events like Itap cannot be taken for granted.
"Feedback from these stakeholders to SingEx uncovered that in the new normal, they wanted Itap to allow them to explore Industry 4.0 solutions, optimise their business operations to lower costs, source for new partnerships, maintain their brand visibility, identify and acquire new markets, redesign their customer outreach, and help their businesses pivot into emerging sectors."
Mr James Boey, SingEx events business executive director, said: "(The event) is all about connecting people, businesses and ideas, and the challenges from Covid-19 brought upon immense opportunities to redefine the future of how we engage with one another, providing rich observations, learning and insights for industries as they build resilience or pivot to survive and thrive."
He added that SingEx worked with partners to ensure that the Max Atria is safe to use, with high-grade filtration systems in the air-conditioning to ensure participants get fresh air and facilities like escalators that are frequently sanitised.
"It is important because we want to make sure that we give confidence to all participants and organisers that the Max Atria is indeed a very safe environment, a very safe property for participants to come back again and do business," he said.
Mr Graham Conlon, head of digital supply chain for SAP Asia-Pacific and Japan, one of the exhibitors, said: "One of the key benefits of a hybrid event is that it enables more people to attend and access the content, hear from industry experts and 'experience' the technology.
"With online sessions recorded, delegates also have the ability to listen to interesting tracks again at a time which suits their schedule."
But he added that some challenges might include online fatigue and a shorter attention span, which can be overcome with interesting demonstrations and interactive question-and-answer sessions.