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Inaugural Asia CEO Summit Commits to Growth in Region’s Exhibitions Industry

MADDY RYLEY, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
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SINGAPORE — About 100 business events organizers’ leaders gathered at the inaugural Asia CEO Summit at The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore Oct. 5-7, showing their commitment to the region’s growth in the business events and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition (MICE) sector. 

“It was appropriate to have the summit last week and the theme of it was Pathways to Growth,” Association of Event Organisers’ CEO Chris Skeith said. “It was very much a way of developing relationships between the organizers of the U.K., U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific, along with Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. One of the big themes that came out of this is how we have emerged out of the pandemic at different paces. It was a really good immersive discussion between those CEOs about how we can support each other to open up and how the recovery went.” 

Focused on Collaboration 

Not only was this the inaugural Asia CEO Summit, but it was also the first of its kind by being co-organized by the Singapore Association of Convention & Exhibition Organisers & SuppliersAssociation of Event OrganisersSociety for Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, supported by the Singapore Tourism Board.

“The remarkable thing is this is the first time that four industry associations have gotten together to create one coherent and well-attended event,” Informa Markets CEO Charlie McCurdy said. “I’m really pleased the associations could work together to the benefit of all the show organizers around the world. It created a sense of bonding, and it was really strong.” 

Global industry leadership was able to address key challenges and opportunities at the summit, including talent, new business models, innovation and sustainability at the summit, and share insights on their respective markets’ experiences as the global trade show and exhibition industry continues to recover from the pandemic. 

Finding Solutions and Sharing Best Practices 

“We looked at talent and the talent crisis, and there’s a general acknowledgement that this is a global phenomenon. We need to do more as an industry on selling the benefits of working in this brilliant sector, like selling the fact that you can fast-track your careers, you get really close to the markets you serve and you’re able to use the latest cutting-edge sales and marketing techniques,” Skeith said. 

A panel on sustainability led to conversations about how the trade show industry can help advance sustainability, lessen the waste generated from live events and create an impact on other industries, leading to a more sustainable world. 

“We and other exhibitors have the opportunity of using the environment of a trade show to promulgate sustainable practices, and that can be through content we offer, sponsorships and exhibitors, who have solutions for all the attending organizations, most of which have their own suitability goals. That’s a really big thing that the industry can do to advance sustainability and climate impact in a coordinated way and in a way that can gain momentum over time,” McCurdy said. 

Related. China Trade Show Industry Tries to Remain Optimistic 

Digital transformation and communication remain key areas of focus. CEOs from largely recovered regions were able to share their insight and perspectives on what worked well during the recovery period with organizers from the Asia-Pacific region, where events are only now making their return. 

“We found we can’t recreate the serendipity of a live events and the connections you can make, but you can engage with communities before and after, you can build knowledge stores, so digital can help us create better relationships with our customers,” Skeith said. 

There was also a Joint Leadership Summit, where industry leaders met with ministers from the Singapore government to emphasize the economic benefit that trade shows bring to the region. Skeith said they hope to grow the Joint Leadership Summit to include ministers from other countries and to further advocate for the trade show and exhibition industry.  

“The inaugural Asia CEO Summit provided a welcome opportunity for leaders of the events industry to gather with their partners in the Asian region after more than two years of separation,” MJBiz Founder and SISO Chair Cassandra Farrington said. “As most markets in the region are now quickly reopening, and with China’s reopening hopefully on the horizon, the participants welcomed the opportunity to restart efforts toward building partnerships for long-term growth in Asia. Unquestionably, this gathering has spurred economic activity which will bear fruits within the next year, to be celebrated at next year’s Asia CEO Summit.”

The Asia CEO Summit will take place in Singapore the next two years.  

Reach Chris Skeith at chris.skeith@eventsindustryalliance.com; Charlie McCurdy at charlie.mccurdy@informa.com