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Event planners must evolve to stay relevant

10 Jun 2021 / 10:15 H.

I PERSONALLY love events. However, let me ask you these questions: Can you define what are events and how does the current Covid-19 pandemic primarily impact all events in Malaysia?

The sudden and sporadic viral infection amongst us has also become a tool in putting the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) industry to a standstill, where relevant parties have been blatantly required to make uncompromising decisions immediately.

The domino effect later resulted in the demise of the profession of hundreds of event-related individuals due to unforeseen cancellations or postponements of organised events, downsizing of staff, and in the worst case scenario, end of businesses.

Even though this is an uncommon facade but MICE industry players have no other way out except to face the financial obligations in order to minimise losses. This could be a huge setback to the industry, so events professionals’ perseverance is vital to revive this industry.

Evidently, this is crucial for the sustainability of the conventional event-related company, but the irony of our current situation is that we are seeing the evolution of the industry towards a virtual platform.

While we do not see many physical events running, especially during the lockdown, it has been quite a remarkable time for those who have seized the opportunity to venture into organising virtual events.

Be it virtual or physical events, everyone is responsible for the future of this industry, so remember to always wash and sanitise your hands, and wear a face mask for protection!

On another note, the events industry is a great advantage to us since Malaysia is strategically-located in South East Asia.

Malaysia is capable of catering to a huge number of regional participants, as well as travellers from a thousand to eighty seven thousand audiences (Malaysia Major Events, 2019), as stated in Tourism Malaysia’s calendar for 2019, and below were the events scheduled prior to the lockdown in March 2020:

0 Chingay Festival (Feb 29)

0 Pasir Gudang World Kite Festival (Feb 28-March 4)

0 East Wind Festival (March 1-3)

0 Vaisakhi (April 14)

0 Kaamatan (May 30-31)

0 Gawai (May 31-June 1)

0 Iftar @ Kuala Lumpur (May 11-June 26)

0 Fiesta San Pedro (June 29)

The two major centres in Kuala Lumpur are the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) and Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC). KLCC offers multipurpose spaces and facilities to customers and clients that include conventional halls, theatres, conference halls, ballrooms, banquet halls and smaller-scale meeting rooms.

One of the halls, the Plenary Hall, has a capacity of three thousand. KLCC hosted the 18th FIGO World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in 2006 and accommodated over eight thousand people.

Lord Naren Patel (the chair of FIGO 2006) stated “FIGO was very pleased with all the facilities and services, and would recommend the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre as a venue, Kuala Lumpur as a city and Malaysia as a destination. If I were to sum it up, I would say fantastic convention centre, great site and efficient team that runs it, in an exciting city.

On the other hand, PWTC is an iconic landmark that has won numerous awards such as The Brand Laureate Award. The Asia Pacific Brands Foundation awarded PWTC the Iconic Landmark for Country Branding for the year 2009 to 2010.

In 2012, PWTC received the Best Destinations 2012 Travel Awards for Best Meetings & Conference Centre Asia by Business Destinations magazine that is based in London.

PWTC also offers halls, theatre and ballrooms that have a capacity of up to three thousand people.

Apart from KLCC and PWTC, there are also other options such as the Sepang International Circuit, Arena of Stars in Genting Highlands, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, Bukit Jalil Putra Indoor Stadium and Bukit Jalil National Stadium. These venues offer a wide range of affordable solutions to suit clients’ requirements for all types of events.

One of the well known annual events in Malaysia was the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix held at Sepang International Circuit, which was first hosted in this South East Asia region in 1999.

Undeniably, Formula 1 is one of the leading racing sports events in Asia. This event drew motorsport fans from Malaysia as well as from all corners of the world during that time.

In addition, we also have the Putrajaya International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. This annual event spans over four days, and attracted over two hundred thousand visitors in 2015, when it featured over 23 hot air balloons from around the world.

Alternatively, we also have music festivals that are hosted by Penang and Sarawak. The Penang World Music Festival is a three-day annual event that features musicians from around the world. This Pearl of the Orient also hosts the annual Jazz Festival known as Penang Island Jazz Festival.

Across the South China Sea, the Rainforest World Music Festival takes place in Sarawak annually, an event featuring musicians from around the world. The city of Miri, in Sarawak, also holds a similar event called the Borneo Jazz Festival yearly, but uniquely focuses on the jazz genre, comprising worldwide musicians.

Evidently, the event industry is highly dependent on available resources in producing a quality event. The event management team is responsible in scouting for resources for a particular event. Its sustainability is also influenced by the allocation for a specific event.

Thus, clients’ needs and wants depend on their budget. Therefore, the team needs to recognise the client’s requirements and work towards a proposed budget. Inevitably, this will be a key factor in determining the allure as well as the success of an event.

The 100 series live pitching 2020/21 (Season Two), organised by Brand 21 Media Services, an ecosystem builder and co-hosting partner, and title presenter Affin Bank, kicked off again in May in Kuala Lumpur.

Berjaya University College had enrolled 12 teams online, comprising students and academic staff from the Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism, Faculty of Culinary Arts, Faculty of Business and Faculty of Liberal Arts, to participate in the event.

The pitching competition was part of the entrepreneur skills, and it evaluates the ability of the participants to think out of the box towards being aspiring entrepreneurs, by competing in live-pitching sessions. These were indeed aspirational stories for participants, future entrepreneurs and event organisers.

Dr Ong Siew Har is Dean of Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Berjaya University College. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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