Restarting – With Care

Bryan Bay

As countries move towards an endemic stance for Covid, Singapore has been preparing the ground to provide exhibition and event services for a still cautious world.  

Having waited longer than we could possibly have predicted, we were delighted to get the official go-ahead to restart our industry without the risk of further lockdowns and postponements. With growing acceptance that we can’t eradicate the virus completely, we can move forward with protocols in place to keep delegates safe.

While some countries are taking the lead in reopening, others are treading more cautiously for fear of another breakout. Singapore delayed restarting its MICE industry (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) until its target number of vaccinated citizens was achieved. It has also developed very comprehensive plans to reduce risk.  

What we strive to do in the events world is to create a comfortable and safe environment so people can relax and engage in the most natural way, putting people at ease while continuing to look after their safety.

One key component of these plans is the creation of a new role: the Safe Events Ambassador or SEA – one of Singapore’s skills is the creation of snappy acronyms! The individuals who take on this role are usually existing industry professionals who take an intensive training course developed by the Singapore Government and industry bodies. As a freshly qualified SEA, I have to declare an interest here.    

From ensuring safe distancing and ventilation measures are followed, through to developing and applying our skills in customer service and empathising with visitors, we Ambassadors will be in the frontline as the events industry rekindles its verve and confidence.   

Visitor Interaction

Being an SEA requires more than wearing a friendly smile while managing the flow of delegates through a one-way system. It goes deeper than that. The pandemic and resulting concern about transmission have created new rules of engagement when meeting face-to-face.

Gestures, facial expression, eye contact and touch play a huge part in how we engage with those around us, with around 65 per cent of our communication achieved via body language. These age old norms of how we relate to one another have been disrupted and we need to know how to repair them.

It’s interesting to see how people adapt their behaviour. Pre covid, keeping your distance from someone could be perceived as rude, or as a sign that you do not consider the person to be of much importance. Now, ensuring there is some physical distance between you and another is more likely to be an indication that you care and are being considerate.

What we strive to do in the events world is to create a comfortable and safe environment so people can relax and engage in the most natural way, putting people at ease while continuing to look after their safety.

Our personal interactions with visitors, however fleeting, can influence their experience  of an event significantly. SEAs are encouraged to think about visitors’ needs in four fundamental ways: people want to feel welcomed, safe and secure, respected, and understood. Not rocket science but sometimes overlooked in the flurry of new procedures.

Having a positive attitude, a thorough knowledge of all the safety protocols and, importantly, being able to listen attentively and actively, are qualities that will be second-nature to many in our industry. However, as with any profession, it can be good to receive a refresher from time to time – especially when those times bring so many extraordinary challenges.           

Vaccination and Contact Tracing

Effective physical safety measures, helped along by the people-skills of the Safe Events Ambassadors are two major elements of Singapore’s risk reduction plans. There is another important aspect and this is the approach to infection transmission.  

The Singapore government is ensuring that their residents are vaccinated, but the question is, how can we best welcome non-vaccinated exhibition visitors?

Testing offers a possible solution, preferably the rapid flow test as we know that time is money – especially on the exhibition floor. Plans have been made to include pre-event testing at mass events such as weddings and so this may be applied more widely. Proof of vaccination, on the other hand, may offer a convenient option.   

Whichever approach is adopted, Singapore has shown that efficient contact tracing is highly effective in limiting infection spread. Therefore, being able to register and track the visitor at all times during the exhibition is crucial. We have robust systems in place to do this.

Ready Set Go!

If the pandemic has taught us anything about our industry, it’s that events and exhibitions provide an essential channel for businesses to showcase their products and services to their target markets. It has also shown how adaptable and inventive our industry can be, bringing forward some real advances to enable engagement at a distance through virtual and hybrid trade shows.

Thanks to the Singapore Government’s relaxing of restrictions, we’re all set to join our international colleagues in providing clients and visitors with the remarkable, high quality environments for which CDI World is renowned – and all with the added reassurance of one of the world’s most well-designed safety systems.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

We’re ready to discuss your event or exhibition requirements, get in touch today.

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