Launched in June 2021, the SG SafeEvent Certification provides a mark of assurance for Venue Operators, Organisers and MICE Suppliers in upholding the highest standards of safe management practices to deliver confidence to visitors and organisers in the Conduct, Construct and Compliance of safe events in Singapore. 

Since its launch, nearly 70 companies have been certified with many more coming onboard as the industry readies itself for the resumption of MICE events.

We spoke to Jessie Lim, Director of Conference Services & Sustainability, Fairmont Singapore & Swissôtel The Stamford, to find out how the SG SafeEvent Certification has helped its MICE venue Raffles City Convention Centre provide a sense of assurance for its attendees and clients.

Can you tell us more about your company?
Opened in 1985, Raffles City Convention Centre was at the time of its launch, the first large scale, integrated and centrally-located convention venue; which has played host to numerous iconic events both locally as well as from overseas over the years, including the 28th South East Asia Games; 32nd Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC 2016); Google Cloud Summit; and the 5th Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference; just to name some. This landmark venue remains a preferred location of choice for event organisers as an accessible venue offering 108,000 square feet of prime, flexible function space, including 34 meeting rooms and 3 magnificent ballrooms located on a single floor with direct access to over 2,000 guestrooms and suites complemented by two of Singapore’s renowned hotels, Fairmont Singapore and Swissôtel The Stamford.

What were some of the challenges the company faced for the past 2 years?
With hardly any inbound travel and a huge clamp down on events due to safe management measures (SMMs) since the onset of the pandemic, the overall hotel and events industry in Singapore has admittedly witnessed a significant business slowdown unlike one we’ve yet experienced. We have been dealt with a huge blow of challenges in more ways than one that understandably aren’t unique to us only. These setbacks have at one point or another posed as risks to business sustainability, manpower shortage, jobs and livelihoods and the country’s economic well-being on a larger scale.

In a nutshell, some of the major challenges include attrition and loss of experienced industry talents. Given that the tourism and event industries have been hard hit, many have since switched industries and ventured out. Hiring and training up of a new talent pool will inevitably take time. Regardless, we will still do our utmost to ensure a smooth transition and successful service delivery.

Despite having seen some physical events returning in 2021, the current business events landscape remains in a state of flux and the overall industry situation still fluid with guidelines, restrictions and SMMS periodically evolving with updates and changes. As such, uncertainty continues to loom as to whether events can eventually proceed and this is undeniably a very important consideration for large scale events with regional or international attendees.

Compromised event experiences due to reduced face-to-face networking opportunities, as well as spatial reduction due to much smaller event capacities as a result of zoning requirements in the interest of safety.

And of course, the incurring of additional expenses when putting an event together such as installation of plexiglass for exhibition booths; or factoring of more manning to cater to different zones registration etc.

How has SG SafeEvent Certification helped address the challenges and provided new opportunities for the business?
As a key MICE venue, Raffles City Convention Centre definitely recognised safety and assurance as precursors for events in the new norm. In fact, we started the integral development of a set of ALLMeetSafe guidelines as part of Accor, even before the announcement of Phase 2 in Singapore back in 2020. We wanted to make sure that we will be at the forefront of safe meeting practices.

It was therefore the next logical step to take when the SG SafeEvent Certification programme was launched by SACEOS last year; to apply and get RCCC certified, ensuring adherence and consistent practice of all outlined hygiene and safe-distancing benchmarks. Holding any major events or conferences for that matter in these pandemic times naturally comes with a lot more considerations, as well as careful planning and execution to make sure all regulations are in compliance.

The SG SafeEvent Certification has undoubtedly helped to address the often comprehensive safety aspects involved in holding larger events, which provided more ease and peace of mind for our event organisers, and our in-depth knowledge on the SMMs was certainly beneficial in helping to facilitate applications for event permits and approvals which in turn made all the prep much smoother and fuss-free for our clients.

All in all, the certification has been a needed confidence booster for events attendees to attend physical events without reservations and hold-back; knowing that our venue has met all the stringent hygiene standards and adopted safe-distancing best practices in accordance to the government-mandated Safe Management Measures (SMMs).

Can you provide some examples on how the SG SafeEvent certification impacted the business?
There has been an evident uplift to the number of enquiries and STB approved events that have taken place at Raffles City Convention Centre since the certification. As mentioned, the certification has provided an added stamp of approval if you like; giving event organisers and attendees that assurance and confidence to return and regain more normalcy. 

Sharing a client testimonial from the BCI Asia Awards Presentation that took place in September last year:

“I am extremely impressed and grateful to the team at Fairmont Singapore for the safe execution of our event during the pandemic. Due to the changing Covid rules, we had to postpone our event twice, which is highly stressful. However, the hotel team’s flexibility and swiftness guided us through to proceed confidently. Despite a very short turnaround time and strict SMMs, they worked with us to ensure our guests’ safety and executed our event flawlessly. Their professionalism and adaptability in terms of venue re-configuration and adherence to STB guidelines is noteworthy. Most importantly, Raffles City Convention Centre is a SG Safe Event certified, which helps us to proceed with even greater assurance. They were meticulous to the last digit in terms of updated SMM guidelines, logistics and customer support. I would definitely partner with Fairmont again for future events.”

Over these past 2 years, we have also managed to position ourselves in the Esports events space, having been the host hotel for several Esports groups and tournaments. Holding major Esports events or any conferences for that matter in these pandemic times naturally comes with a lot more considerations, as well as careful planning and execution to make sure all regulations are in compliance. The SG SafeEvent Certification has lent a telling impact on perception and us securing the piece of business, which has in turn helped to showcase the hotel’s experience and knowhow; the teamwork across departments and our adaptability to changes while ensuring that day to day activities and the overall event runs smoothly.

How did you operationalise and implement best practice on hygiene and sanitisation, safe management measures based on the SG SafeEvent standards?
Our Quality Team ably spearheaded the project on behalf of the hotel, which began a meticulous process of setting up several meetings to conduct thorough internal reviews in our SOPs with all relevant departments such as Banquet, Housekeeping, Engineering, Security, etc.

The journey to certification also saw the careful planning and operationalisation of any additional relevant measures such as adhering to a regular sanitisation schedule in high touch point areas; event flow to allow one-way traffic only; tie-ups with Fullerton Health on Pre-Event Testing arrangements to ease the planning for event organisers. We also looked into improving the organisers’ experience such as provision of helpful communications tools. We also appointed our own independent auditor to assist in making sure all checklists for the certification are met. This included the carrying out of an internal audit prior to the actual one to ensure we have indeed met all the requirements.

How do you plan to leverage on the SG SafeEvent Certification to drive the business in 2022?
The SG SafeEvent certification has definitely generated more leads and opened up the doors to more event opportunities for us. With our record of successfully executed events, especially post the certification, we are truly excited to welcome the further ‘rebirth’ of events and at the same time strengthen Raffles City Convention Centre’s positioning as a reliable, experienced and professional SafeEvent venue for large-scale MICE events; not just in Singapore but also regionally and internationally.

If you would like to find out how you can be SG SafeEvent Certified, please contact us at [email protected] or learn more here.