Analysis Opinions

Enhancing visitor experience: How we did it at SMF 2019

Selina Sinclair shares thinking and design process behind this year’s event.

Disruption — the trendiest buzzword in business today. It’s all around us and accelerating faster than ever before in the Asia-Pacific. No longer termed as a threat, but an extraordinary opportunity, disruption was central to this year’s Singapore MICE Forum (SMF), which focused on a ‘Wired for the Future’ theme.

SACEOS engineered the 1.5-day event around three cornerstones of the business events landscape: Design, digital and community.

As SACEOS strives to be Singapore’s hub for knowledge exchange and to elevate the events ecosystem across the region, our ambition for SMF 2019, was to design an event that produced magnetic moments for attendees and encouraged conversations beyond the event. 

Here’s how we did it:

We reimagined the traditional MICE setting by transporting it to Sentosa, marketed in Singapore as the ‘State of Fun’. The event space at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) was turned upside down by removing all the typical conference finishes and instead incorporating lounges, beanbags, cushions to reinvent the space as if it were a living room. 

The event opened with two life-sized Transformers (from the blockbuster movie and supplied by Universal Studios at RWS) charging through the main plenary. The hope was to encourage event organisers to think outside the box and employ strategic partnerships.

We incorporated the strength of our partner, RWS, into the conference where possible to amplify the experience and create connections through emotion. This included curating an event experience that tantalised the five senses to evoke positive emotions — right down to considering the event aroma and background music. 

We visually sought to captivate and stimulate attendees’ attention by incorporating the use of digitally-enhanced stage technology. Atomic screens by our AV partner provided the much needed ‘wow factor’ to impress and maintain attendee interest throughout the event. The atomic screen panels created a striking stage backdrop and we were able to easily transform the mood of the event as we navigated through our design, digital and community themes.

Outside the main hall, exhibitors showcased unique offerings that fed into the above themes. We also considered the way the food was presented to evoke sentiment and connection — so it was an amalgamation of intellectual and emotional stimulation. 

Drawing inspiration from Singapore’s beloved hawker food culture, we curated an ‘old Singapore charm’ experience in the RWS Malaysian Food Street. Bringing our delegates to this unique dining space, we redesigned the traditional buffet-style set-up and gave delegates an opportunity to try delicious street food from our region’s most famous hawkers.


Instead of the usual conference breakout sessions, we were excited to introduce our very first ‘silent conference’ experience.

Future conference goers will be the younger demographic characterised with shorter attention spans. We adopted technology as an engagement tool and provided delegates with individual audio headsets that could be tuned to listen to presentations in three different smart zones.

This allowed us to host three different sessions in one room without interruption. Infrared technology also allowed delegates to easily switch between different presentations without leaving their seats!

Conference sessions were also made available to remote individuals, allowing us to reach and capture a wider audience through a closed community channel. 

The impressive speaker line-up was also critical to our success. The event featured passionate storytellers from the ages of 17 to 71, with content appealing to people from all walks of life. Our speakers played an integral part in telling the SMF 2019 story and offered attendees tips on how to be future-ready in an authentic way.

Close collaboration with industry partners and government has always been a core part of our remit and commitment. In an effort to capitalise on the presence of some of the industry’s key business leaders, SMF 2019 also featured a CEO summit, with the intent to draw insights into the future of business events.

The signing of the Asia Community Building Pledge

The CEO Summit saw the historic signing of the Asia Community Building Pledge between five ASEAN countries to share intelligence and research in order to improve capabilities across the region. 

In the spirit of innovation and knowledge sharing, SACEOS will continue to provide insights from our regional community leaders, and incorporate their thoughts on what drives business events, both globally and here in Asia.


SMF 2019 event set out to inspire the future of meetings and events by thinking outside the box. When we take this journey, we believe disruption will occur naturally, allowing you to stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

Tim Kobe’s keynote speech really drove the SMF 2019 message home. He said: “Good enough is not enough. Do the brave thing — the thing that troubles your sleep. The thing with a million unknowns. The thing that reshapes the status quo… The secret to value creation is a better human experience.”

Selina Sinclair is the global managing director of Pacific World, and SACEOS vice president – advocacy and communications.