– Ong Wee Min, Hony Secretary, SACEOS.
ONG WEE MIN, In a chat with TFT talks about similarities between India and Singapore; approximate transcript of the interview follows
TFT : What made you consider accepting the invite to be a distinguished guest at IEIA Open Seminar?
Ong Wee Min : Singapore is a leading MICE destination of the world with thought leadership positions in both the meetings and tradeshows industries around the region. SACEOS, as the industry association for the MICE industry, champions an open and collaborative partnership with our regional and international peer associations. India has been the site for phenomenal growth in the exhibition industry and our members have business interests in India.We believe in collaboration and to work together with reputable partner associations such as IEIA to cocreate content and to contribute to a vibrant discussion where all of us could learn from each other ‘s experiences collectively.
TFT : Can you elaborate on the objectives of SACEOS?
Ong Wee Min : SACEOS, which stands for the Singapore Association of Conventions and Exhibitions Organizers and Suppliers, was established in 1979 to develop Singapore into the best event venue for Asia. Dedicated to shaping the future of Singapore’s exhibitions, conventions, meeting and events industry, SACEOS works closely with the Singapore Government to chart the industry’s growth path and further the island state’s position as an International Exhibition City and Regional Convention Hub in Asia.
SACEOS also focuses on 4 main pillars to propel the industry to greater heights. They are Advocacy, Business Networks, Education and Talent Attraction. With its commitment to excellence, SACEOS has developed strong education and training programmes to ensure service quality for all events held in Singapore and established a strong international network that provides regional and global connections for its members.
TFT : What major difference do you find between MICE sector of India and Singapore?
Ong Wee Min : Both are very similar. Singapore had the first mover advantage many years ago and had diversified our MICE sector considerably over the last few years. This evolution had led to development of new MICE infrastructure that caters to the changing segments. We are also concentrating on value creation and seeing how productivity could be increased by the provision of good professional education and professional development that are readily available to our industry members.
TFT : Is this your first appearance at the IEIA forum?
Ong Wee Min : Yes.
TFT : How is Singapore addressing the growing MICE ancillary requirements?
Ong Wee Min : MICE, being a business of people, for people, by people, is always dynamic. Meeting design shapes meeting delegate experiences and in turn, shapes meeting architecture. It is an ongoing eco-system where different components of the MICE value chain are constantly interacting and creating changes to how we approach the business. What is ancillary, and what is basic. I think the line is no longer so clear. Hence, one needs a whole of system approach instead of a component based approach.
TFT : What competition you feel Singapore economy may have from India in the next decade?
Ong Wee Min : India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with leadership positions in services. The sheer size of the Indian population offers immense potential for the India Tradeshow industry. MICE Events alwayss go where the market is, and where the knowledge is required. It’s a simple demand and supply equation. Rather than look at each other with a zero-sum game lens, one should look at how both countries could leverage on each other’s strengths and increase partnerships. In this increasingly globalized world, no country is an island vs another. We are all inter-linked in so many ways that are increasing by the day, by the minute.
TFT : Tell us something about the strength of SACEOS?
Ong Wee Min : SACEOS is the only professional association representing the MICE industry in Singapore. SACEOS identifies issues, solidifies collaborations, expedites processes, and brings to our members programmes that are relevant to their businesses. Through this, we contribute to the development of the MICE industry in Singapore by:
- Promoting the development of the MICE Industry and supporting its growth
- Being the platform to power and connect businesses
- Encouraging and maintaining the highest ethical standards of business conduct and professionalism within the country
- Promoting collaboration and co-operation within the industry in all matters of common interest and to provide for and facilitate the interchange of views and information
- Representing the industry in all matters locally and internationally, whether in relation to any government agency, other trade associations or bodies, media or the public Our strength lays in what we do through our dedicated team that strives to propel the industry forward, our strong ties and bonds with the Singapore Governmental bodies, our strong base of supportive members, as well as our uniquely structured professional development programmes.
TFT : What is your SWOT analysis on Indian MICE Sector?
Ong Wee Min : Being an economist by training, the Threat column is the one column that I always look at. Coincidentially, it is the same challenges that we face:
- An increasing talent war in a globalized world
- Relevance and sufficiency of MICE infrastructure.