SINGAPORE, Sept 4 — Some event organisers are fielding more enquiries about holding events of up to 1,000 people since the Government relaxed Covid-19 regulations, with at least one firm already engaged to organise a 1,000-person event this November.
The interest follows a government announcement on August 19 that it would double the capacity limits for large-scale events, as Singapore prepares to live with the coronacirus circulating among the population.
Events such as meetings or conferences can now have 1,000 fully vaccinated participants if they are mostly seated or standing in a fixed position during the event, up from 500 before.
For events such as exhibitions where participants are not seated and moving about, this figure is 500, up from 250.
Of the six event companies that TODAY approached, half said that they had seen an increase in enquiries. The rest either said that they had not seen an increase or declined to disclose figures or said that their large-scale events were planned for next year or later.
Marina Bay Sands (MBS), which has an exhibition and convention centre, said that it is “in dialogue with over 20 clients to review and re-examine each event’s design and process flow to align to the new measures”.
Mr Ong Wee Min, vice-president of conventions and exhibitions at MBS, said: “This includes increasing event size to cater up to 1,000 vaccinated delegates and having clear procedures to test unvaccinated delegates.”
Two other venue providers for large-scale events, Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre and Resorts World Convention Centre, did not respond to TODAY’s queries on venue bookings.
Among the event companies that have seen an uptick in enquiries is Unearthed Productions.
Mr Adam Esoof Piperdy, chief experience officer of the event management company, said that since the relaxed rules were announced, he has received 10 preliminary enquiries for services.
This is “quite a large number”, seeing that there were none when the country was in a heightened alert period from July 22 to August 18.
Three of his existing clients who already have events scheduled for October and November also asked about increasing the number of participants on-site.
His first 1,000-person event, which will include a virtual component, will be a conference held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre in November.
He declined to disclose more details of the event because he is still in the process of applying for approval from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Mr Piperdy said that his client, who had originally planned to have 50 participants on-site, decided to increase the capacity of the event because many had attended the same conference in pre-Covid years.
He does not foresee any logistical issues in hosting a bigger event given his company’s experience, but said that it will “probably be a scramble” to secure a bigger budget from sponsors.
“The lead time between now and November is quite short and sponsors may not have the spare budget,” he explained, noting that sponsors typically plan their budget for events at least six months in advance.
He is “not entirely sure” if 1,000 people will show up, but he is confident that at least 800 people will do so based on pre-Covid attendance figures.
Mr Piperdy’s team will also create opportunities to network and hand out event packs to entice people to take part physically rather than tune in virtually.
Confidence in Holding Larger Events
Several other companies have also seen an increase in enquiries in holding larger events since the Government’s announcement.
Ms Janice Swee, director of Tricom Events, said that since the Government indicated on August 6 that it would expand the attendance capacity for events, she has had up to three enquiries every couple of weeks for events involving between 250 and 1,000 participants, compared to one enquiry over a few months before.
“People are confident that they can roll out plans, which they have put on hold for a long time,” Ms Swee said.
Likewise, Mr Adrian Ang of events company That’s Innovative has seen a 30 per cent increase in enquiries for events since the announcement.
However, he expects these events to take place only towards the end of the year since companies require several months to plan them.
Concerns over Venue Availability
While event organisers welcomed the move to increase capacity limits for events, they were concerned over the availability of larger venues.
An event hosting 1,000 people would need to be held in a venue large enough for 3,000 people pre-pandemic, after accounting for infection control measures such as safe distancing between participants, Mr Piperdy said.
During the peak seasons for events in the last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year, Mr Ang expects event companies to compete for bigger venues such as MBS, Resorts World Convention Centre on Sentosa Island, and Suntec Singapore.
In response to TODAY’s query on how many events of up to 1,000 people have been confirmed or are pending approval until the end of next year, STB said that it does not have complete oversight of all meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) and leisure events in Singapore.
Waiting for Borders to Open
Looking further ahead, event companies said that they are hoping for border restrictions to ease more since it is difficult to host large-scale events for the domestic market alone.
Before the pandemic, up to half of an event could be filled with overseas guests and speakers, Mr Piperdy said.
Mr Thomas Lim of TLC Events, who has not seen an increase in enquiries, said that with Covid-19 figures increasing in the region, international participants who can travel are hesitant to attend functions on-site.
He expects his clients to ask for hybrid or fully virtual events for now. — TODAY