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ABM 2019 creates engaging space for collaboration

Refreshed approach to SACEOS’ annual buyer-meet-seller event garners positive response.

Asia Business Meet (ABM), SACEOS’ signature buyer-meet-seller platform, took place in Singapore last week with a refreshed design focused on meaningful engagement and immersive experiences.

Fifty-eight global business event buyers flew in to the Lion City to attend the invitation-only event, held from 22 to 25 July in conjunction with the Singapore MICE Forum (SMF). 

Inspired to showcase the “Singapore You Never Knew,” SACEOS, along with co-event organisers Untangled and Pacific World, curated a three-day programme that included thoughtfully-created familiarisation tours and a reformatted buyer-seller meeting session that drew positive response from both sides. Delegates were also given plenty of opportunities to network and learn from each other in both casual and structured meeting formats, such as a trade secrets workshop, morning walks, lunch time discussions, evening cocktails and a ‘Shark Tank’-style pitching session.

Narelle Bailey, managing director of Verve Events International, based in Sydney, says the immersive approach was a refreshing change. “There has been a sea of sameness in similar events in Southeast Asia for quite a while, so this is a very different experience,” she says.

As an introduction to Singapore, buyers were grouped into three “Passion Tribes” based on their business interests and how familiar they were with the destination.

The Culture Shapers tribe, mostly first-time visitors to Singapore, explored unconventional venues along the Singapore River and ‘Insta-worthy’ cultural hubs such as Kampong Glam and Tiong Bahru.

Judy Jin, operations and events manager at Global Antitrust Institute in the United States appreciated that the programme was unlike other trade shows she’s attended. “I am really thankful that the programme was set up this way. I got to see a side of Singapore that I probably may not have seen otherwise,” she says.

Buyers in the Action Seekers tribe explored Singapore’s indoor and outdoor team-building facilities, which included a high ropes course at Bedok Reservoir.

Culture Shapers explored unconventional venues, such as Huone Singapore

Meanwhile, buyers already familiar with Singapore made up the Innovators tribe and were given a deeper insight into the destination from the perspectives of two young entrepreneurs — GIVE.ASIA’s Aseem Thakur and founder of Yeomama batik brand, Desleen Yeo — who shared their personal journey as business owners in Singapore.

Marine Debatte, head of events solutions at BI Worldwide, says she valued the insights from people outside the events industry. “It’s refreshing to hear from other entrepreneurs and be inspired by their growth mindset. We can make parallels with what they do in their industry and what we can learn from it,” she says.

Rajeev Kohli, joint managing director of Creative Travel, says he enjoyed site visits to unconventional venues, such as the ArtScience Museum. “We are used to seeing hotel spaces which, at the end of the day, are four walls. To have a non-traditional space makes for an interesting concept to do meetings differently and come up with different ideas for content,” he says.

‘Shark Tank’-style pitching at Design Orchard

Morten Anderson, managing director of Denmark’s Production Travel, says he was pleased to join the Innovators tribe, as he got to “see not just the tourist places, but also to go off-the-beaten track, which is what my clients like as well”. 

Following this, the “All About Relationships” buyer-meet-seller day turned the traditional meeting format on its head, with sellers (not buyers) rotating around the room for a four-minute speed-meet pitch to buyers. The “quick-fire” round was followed by a Deep Dive session where buyers went into lengthier discussions with sellers who meet their specific needs. 

“All About Relationships” buyer-meet-seller day

Stanley Ng, director of MICE sales at Accor, says the speed meet was “a fantastic idea as we got to meet so many people, while the deep dive was great for in-depth conversations to talk business”.

Nicoletta Grama, senior programme manager for Romania’s BCD Meetings & Events, was happy with the quality of sellers this year, saying they were “people who were relevant to us and who we can reach out to for our next event or programme”.

Four-minute speed meet kept sellers on their toes

Dining and networking events during ABM 2019 were multi-sensory occasions that showcased Singapore’s culturally-diverse cuisines, creative usage of space and the industry’s capabilities in presenting imaginative and sustainable dining solutions.

Marina Bay Sands’ LAVO and Accor’s SKAI delivered delicious menus alongside breath-taking views of the evening city skyline, while sustainability and innovation were the core theme of lunch curated by Lavish Dine Catering at Edible Garden City and a gala dinner hosted by Grand Hyatt Singapore.

ABM official welcome reception at SKAI, Swissotel The Stamford

Rachel Su, manager at China’s BCD Meetings & Events, says she was impressed with the creative approach to  sustainability. “It’s a very good story about Singapore and its sustainable journey. This is something the Chinese visitors will be interested in,” she says.

This year’s ABM sought to engage delegates through the sharing of authentic stories and experiences of the destination and its communities to establish meaningful connections.

Despite the competitive nature of business events, Verve Events International’s Bailey felt that ABM 2019 created an environment conducive to sharing and collaborating.

“I’ve had great conversations with other buyers, and the new experiences they have come across. It was great to share their insights and everyone’s been happy to share ideas,” she says. “It feels like a big family.”