A Global First: Singapore Implements New National Standards for Exhibitions; Majority of Events Already in Compliance

RENEE DIIULIO, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT
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Singapore – Following a two-year trial implementation and a two-month public review, Singapore has now officially implemented new national standards for audits and terminology for its flourishing exhibition industry. With 80% of its exhibition industry already in compliance, Singapore is likely the first in the world to have gotten terminology and audit standardization right — as well as buy-in from the majority of exhibition and meeting organizers.

Three groups were the impetus behind the standards.  The Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau (SECB), which is the lead agency  for the exhibition industry,   worked closely with  SPRING Singapore (Standards, Productivity & Innovation Board)  and the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organizers (SACEOS). They developed the standards which are named SSETAP, The Singapore Standard on Exhibition Terminology & Audit Procedures.

The guidelines feature definitions of exhibition-related terminology, recommended audit procedures and regional classifications.  The SSETAP will serve as a benchmark for exhibitors and trade visitors to objectively and consistently evaluate the quality and performance of exhibitions held in Singapore. The standards are also intended to attract more trade events to the region through greater professionalism, service quality and operational standards within the industry.

The three organizations have been working together for many years to develop the guidelines, which were approved in December 2004. According to Anthony Khoo, Assistant Director of Exhibitions for the Singapore Tourism Board, the process began with a working group representing the three organizations, which developed a technical reference. The initial recommendations were then distributed throughout the industry in October 2001 to generate feedback and determine suitability.

Khoo credits the process as the key to gaining widespread industry acceptance. “The technical reference is not ‘alien.’  Many have been able to practice the guidelines, and all have had plenty of opportunity to come back and make necessary changes,” he says.

A similar process is underway for another set of industry standards on safety, health and technical operations. These standards will cover procedures for show setup and teardown. Khoo states that their release is expected in the third quarter of this year.

The three organizations would like to see the standards extend outside Singapore’s borders and have been working with the International Organisation for Standardisation (SIO) toward this end.

Reach Anthony Khoo, Assistant Director of  Exhibitions, Singapore Tourism Board at 65 68313 667; or Sandra Cheong, Manager, Singapore Association of Convention  & Exhibition Organizers at 65 6339 7383 or Sandra@saceos.org.sg.