Singapore – At the same time the futuristic Marina Bay Sands along Singapore’s downtown waterfront is marking its landmark opening, Singapore Expo continues to serve the nation’s historic role as a central meeting place for southern Asia.
When Sir Stamford Raffles landed on the banks of the Singapore River, not far from Marina Bay Sands, to establish a British trading post on the Malayan Peninsula in 1819, he realized the strategic potential Singapore offered then and now. The statue of the intrepid Raffles located in the shadow of the soaring skyscrapers of the financial district is a testament to his foresight.
The nation of roughly 5 million has parlayed its port and its proximity to China into a convenient location for trade shows. Scores of international corporations base their Asian operations in Singapore. The city-nation is also cosmopolitan, largely English-speaking and a relatively short flight from Japan, India, Southeast Asia and the massive Chinese market.
Popular with China
The strong presence of China as well as the comfort zone offered to Westerners has Singapore positioned to continue playing a sizable role in the Asian trade show market. Heavy machinery, maritime equipment and other durable goods sought out by China’s manufacturers are frequently displayed at Singapore Expo, said Chandran Nair, deputy general manager.
Singapore is also being increasingly sought out by Chinese show organizers, Nair told Trade Show Executive. The city offers a cache that appeals to the new merchants of Beijing. “The cost for them is a little higher than in China, but Singapore offers them a chance to change their profile a little bit.”
Just as Sir Stamford was thinking “location, location, location” in his initial survey, Singapore Expo sits on a convenient site that serves its customers well. Built in 1999 approximately 15 minutes from the busy downtown, Singapore Expo is a short distance from the Changi International Airport. The site is conducive to trucks hauling in airborne freight or goods brought in by ship. There is parking for 2,500 cars, which can accommodate attendees based in Singapore.
The single level facility offers 100,000 square meters (1.06 million square feet) of contiguous, column-free space with high ceilings, and as a result, Singapore Expo can host virtually any type of show. A stroll along the aisles of this Spring’s International Furniture Fair Asia – a show of approximately 60,000 net square meters (645,834 square feet – took visitors from Hall 1 to Hall 6 with minimal effort.
“And with everything on one floor, logistics is a breeze,” said Serene Ho, senior sales manager for Singapore Expo. “Exhibitors love it.”
The facility’s management also allows show organizers to rent only the space they need, which works well for large conferences with smaller exhibitions. “If you utilize only a quarter of the hall, we charge you for a quarter of the hall,” Ho said.
The coming years will see an expansion of the conference facilities at Singapore Expo. The number of new meeting rooms that will be built has yet to be finalized; however plans call for about 150 square meters (1,615 square feet) apiece with the ability to be joined together into larger spaces as needed. Two hotels are also on the drawing board that will bring attendees within walking distance of the convention center.
With the government firmly behind the upgrades, Singapore Expo intends to continue playing a major role in the Asian trade show market even with the arrival of Marina Bay Sands on the scene. “The Singapore government is focused on turning this region into a hub for trade shows and meetings,” Nair said. “When we have large foreign delegations coming in, it’s good for Singapore. There is a market here for every venue.”