Singapore Experience Awards

Putting fun in business

Professor Lee Yuan Kun, president of the Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology. -- PHOTO:
Professor Lee Yuan Kun, president of the Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology. -- PHOTO:
Ms Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder and editorial director of Web in Travel (WIT). -- PHOTO: STB
Ms Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder and editorial director of Web in Travel (WIT). -- PHOTO: STB

Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year and Best Business Event Champion: This year’s Singapore Experience Awards honours individuals dedicated to injecting life back into ‘live’ events

Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year

After five years as editorial director of a travel trade publication, Ms Yeoh Siew Hoon saw the need for a “quality conference with content that was relevant to Asia and that would address how the Internet was going to change travel and how the industry needed to be prepared for it”.

In 2005, she founded Web in Travel (WIT). From a delegate attendance of 130 in its first year, WIT Singapore conference is now attended by an average of 500 delegates. WIT delegates look to the main conference to pick up on the latest global trends driving online travel and exchange ideas on how to boost business opportunities in the region.

They also get access to a Bootcamp, the only travel start-up event in the region, where entrepreneurs share ideas ranging from taxi sharing to vacation rentals to last minute booking apps.

The conference has expanded with editions in Japan,Middle East and Indonesia. The average audiences range from 130 to 330 delegates.

It has also held events in Australia, Thailand and other parts of South-east Asia as it takes learning workshops to the field.

Ms Yeoh’s business acumen, creativity and innovative talents have won her the Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year award from Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

“It is great honour,” she says.“A recognition that there is still value in great quality content that is curated and delivered in context to the right audience.”

“If you have the instinct of a journalist with the drive of an entrepreneur - you can combine the two and feed the opportunity as it goes along.”

Golden opportunity

The biggest challenge in the meetings industry is that “many in the audience now have access to somuchinformation online and they comewith so much more knowledge”, she says.

“Being average is not enough, youhave to be excellent,” she says. Event organisers have the golden opportunity to “put the life back into ‘live’”.

She adds:“We live so much in the virtual world, people really miss ‘live’ interactions. When you put together a ‘live’ event, it is a golden opportunity to remind people why ‘live’ is so good.”

Bigger ambitions are on the agenda after WIT was acquiredby US-based Northstar Travel Media Group in April, with Ms Yeoh remaining as its editorial director.

On the key to her success, she says: “You have to turn challenges into fun or at least see it in a funway, whatever it is.”

“This is anaward not just for WIT but all the people who have made it possible.Anentrepreneur is thesum of his or her community who believe in her idea,” she adds.

Best Business Event Champion

As part of the STB effort to honour individuals in recognition of their remarkable dedication and efforts in championing Singapore’s MICE industry, Professor Lee Yuan Kun also received the Best Business Event Champion award at the Singapore Experience Awards 2014.

Prof Lee, the president of the Singapore Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology, worked with STB to win the hosting rights for the World Congresses of the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS) 2017.

The IUMS Congresses is a large-scale event comprising three scientific congresses - the International Congress of Bacteriology and Applied Microbiology, the International Congress of Mycology and Eukaryotic Microorganisms, and the International Congress of Virology.

The IUMS Congresses is expected to attract about 3,000 to 4,000 foreign delegates over a six-day programme.

Prof Lee has also worked closely with STB on MICE 2020, a medium-term road map jointly developed by the industry to strengthen Singapore’s leadership position as a MICE city.

According to STB, “Prof Lee contributed invaluable insights to help enhance the MICE visitor’s experience in Singapore froma user’s perspective”.