Singapore feels the heat from high hotel rates but long term business looks strong

Lower event budgets and cheaper hotel rates in competing cities are pushing down smaller event bookings and hotel stays in Singapore. The high prices in Singapore hotels has been a bane for other stakeholders, trying hard to stave off competition from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur who are well equipped with meeting infrastructure and event facilities to wean away business. This is coupled with weaker currencies that offer many clients more bang for their bucks in Thailand and Malaysia, often amounting to the equivalent of two nights’ stay.

Panithan Vongkerd, managing director of Bangkok-based MaxiMICE Management, said: “Singapore does have its pluses but the bottom line is becoming very important to clients as budgets shrink. We find that Bangkok offers everything that a meeting planner may need to have awesome events of any size. That makes it easy for clients as well as planners to choose Bangkok.”

Once the cynosure of visitor attraction, the Orchard Road properties have paled in comparison with the hotels in the Marina area who command a higher room rate. Exceptions like the Royal Plaza on the Scotts have confirmed that their event business has stayed consistent. Patrick Fiat, general manager of Royal Plaza on the Scotts, said: “As budget is tightening for most companies, they are holding smaller scale events at lower costs. Most of the huge convention spaces are feeling the heat as a result.”

However, Singapore has won eight large congresses and trade shows in the 1H2017, augmenting its kitty of business events, ensuring an additional 20,000 business visitors to the city in future years. The events comprise of world congresses, regional exhibitions and conferences, most of them taking place for the first time in south-east Asia or Asia. Over the past year, Singapore has won five major world congresses from the medical and industrial solutions sectors.

Singapore will host the International Urogynaecological Association (IUGA) Annual Meeting in 2021, which will attract 1,200 international physicians and healthcare professionals to discuss the latest trends on urogynaecological research and patient care.

In 2022, Singapore will host the 20th International Congress of Endocrinology (ICE). The ICE 2022 will bring together more than 4,000 endocrinologists from over 70 countries to exchange ideas and developments in clinical endocrinology practice. The World Congress of Anaesthesiologists (WCA) in 2024 will welcome 8,000 anaesthesiologists from around the world to discuss areas of anaesthesia, pain medicine and intensive care.

Melissa Ow, deputy chief executive, Singapore Tourism Board, said: “(These wins) attest to Singapore’s strength as a trusted partner to deliver event success. Beyond our infrastructure and empowering business environment, Singapore’s attractiveness as a business events destination is bolstered by our distinctive multi-cultural lifestyle experiences and the dedication and support of our local associations and industry partners. We look forward to welcoming more event owners and business travellers to Singapore to network, collaborate, and grow their business events to new heights”.

Singapore was crowned in 2016, the top international association meetings city in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) for the 15th successive year, and was also named the second Top International Meeting City of 2016 by the Union of International Associations (UIA).

Singapore does score over several other Asian meeting destinations due to its impeccable track record for safety, clean environment, good law and order and a more cosmopolitan ambience. Many of the Singaporean hotels are trying to use their unique selling points in terms of heritage buildings, environmentally friendly meeting spaces and ethnic identity that lend them unique flavours to allow meeting planners to weave the event designs around it.