Analysis News Singapore

Trump-Kim Summit: The value of meetings

While the world awaits more tangible outcomes following the historic Peace Summit in Singapore, one clear winner has emerged. 

Move over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the biggest love story of the year (so far) is that of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. The on-again/off-again romance culminated in the historic Peace Summit in Singapore earlier this month.

The 12 June meeting at luxurious Capella resort on Sentosa Island concluded with the signing of a joint statement between the two leaders, outlining their commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

But as the world attempts to decipher the vaguely worded document (where Washington has pledged to stop joint military exercises with Seoul in exchange for Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear programme) and eagerly awaits the next step in negotiations, a clear victor has already emerged: Singapore.

“The Summit certainly helped strengthen Singapore’s reputation as a prime destination for large-scale, high-profile international events where security and safety are vital concerns,” says FreemanXP Singapore executive creative director, Tamsyn Barker. “While Trump and Kim were here, the world’s eyes were focused on this city-state. That was enormously valuable.”

As well as boosting overall destination marketing efforts, Barker believes the Summit will have positive, long-term implications for Singapore’s meetings and events industry.

“One of the key values Singapore is renowned for is its safety. The country has also long been known as ‘the gateway between east and west’. This historic meeting between western and Asian powers being hosted so successfully, securely and trouble-free in Singapore can only help cement both those qualities in observers’ minds.”

She adds: “To have such divisive figures as Trump and Kim experience a smooth stay, without a single negative incident or protest, will help assure other organisations that any event they might wish to hold in Singapore can be executed without difficulty.”

Brand Singapore: Kim Jong-Un’s tour of Marina Bay featured in global and North Korean media

The Singaporean government reportedly spent SGD16.3 million to host the meeting, where approximately half was attributed to security costs. This includes footing the hotel bill for Kim and his contingent (who stayed at the five-star St. Regis Singapore), facilitating a contingent of more than 2,500 journalists, and setting up an international media centre at the F1 Pit Building.

But was this a worthy investment? Media intelligence firm, Meltwater, estimates news coverage during the month leading up the Summit (12 May to 12 June) equates to SGD767 million in advertising value.

‘Singapore’ topped Google searches in US during the Summit with more than two million hits. Related searches included ‘Where is Singapore’, ‘Singapore summit’ and ‘Time in Singapore’.

For David Litteken, APAC vice president at BI Worldwide, brand engagement is an important part of calculating event ROI and says the ensuing exposure of ‘brand Singapore’ means the Summit has proven to be a worthy investment.

“Post-Summit, there has been a lot of attention around the fact that many are still confused by Singapore’s identity, with the news media and various foreign government entities identifying Singapore as a part of Malaysia… or even a part of China. For this reason alone, I think it is a prudent and wise investment for Singapore to host the Summit. Being from the U.S., I’ve had so many emails and social media messages from family and friends back home. I wouldn’t be surprised if the advertising exposure was even greater than [the Meltwater estimates].”

FreemanXP’s Barker, however, is more critical of the Summit’s overall ROI.

“It has certainly been highly advantageous from a publicity standpoint, but the $700 million valuation has been greeted in many quarters with a degree of scepticism. The content and impact of the meeting between Trump and Kim was the real news – Singapore being the site of the meeting was important but still peripheral, to an extent.”

Nevertheless, the Singapore Tourism Board is pleased with the result. Oliver Chong, executive director, communications and marketing capability at the Singapore Tourism Board, says: “As with all high-profile visits, [the Summit] places Singapore on the map for international audiences and showcases Singapore as an ideal destination, especially for business and meetings.”

Image source: AFP