Breaking Travel News

Breaking Travel News interview: Arun Madhok, chief executive, Suntec Singapore

Having been recognised as the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre by the voters at the World Travel Awards Suntec Singapore is doing all it can to maintain it lead in the Asian MICE space.

Here Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole sits down with chief executive Arun Madhok to get the latest from the destination.

Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we could begin with a brief overview of Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre and what is on offer there? What are some of the key events taking place in the location each year?

Arun Madhok: Suntec Singapore has been recognised as the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre  by the World Travel Awards for its perfect location, a high level of flexibility and cutting-edge technology that is supported by qualified, motivated and service-orientated people.

Located at the heart of Asia’s most integrated meetings, conventions and exhibitions hub and only 20 minutes from Changi International Airport, Suntec Singapore is conveniently located in the Central Business District and just minutes from the city’s entertainment and cultural attractions.

It is seamlessly connected to over 5,200 five-star hotel rooms, 1,000 retail shops, 300 restaurants, six museums, a world-class performing arts centre and 7,000 parking spaces.

Exhibitions remain a core focus of our business although we also see an increasing trend for Confex events and have designed our centre around flexible customisable space to allow our guests to benefit from this.

As an inherently PhRMA code compliant venue, we attract some of the largest medical events every year.

We also see an increase in government, lifestyle and technology events which have benefited from the state of the art technology that was built into the centre.

BTN: You were appointed chief executive of the organisation in 2012. In what ways has Suntec Singapore changed under your leadership?

AM: I had the opportunity to take over the reins at the point where we were in the midst of our modernisation programme.

This meant that I was able to create a new centre transforming this 20 year old venue into one of the most technologically-advanced convention centres around.

I was very fortunate that my goals were supported by the owners and stakeholders who trusted and believed in me.

To top it off, I had the privilege to handpick my own senior team and lead them into re-branding and transforming the company, which is a luxury that chief executives do not always have.

Our goal is to create a seamless customised experience for our guests supported by our six pillars – culinary excellence, cutting-edge technology, intelligent sustainability, impeccable service, preferred location and customisable space.

By changing our operational processes, we are encouraging our teams to unleash their potential and creativity to improve on the client experience.

For example, our kitchen supply chain has been simplified so most of our ingredients are pre-cut to the right size.

This improves consistency and ensures a stress-free environment for our chefs.

They now have more time to work on new menus and improve on the presentation of dishes, all working together to create a seamless customised experience for all of our guests.

BTN: Are there any developments on the horizon at Suntec Singapore in 2015 you are keen to share with our readers? Are there any events on the agenda you are particularly excited about?

AM: We have our building and facilities exactly as we need it to be and the next step for us is to educate our clients and peers on the future of MICE at our Centre.

Being at the leading edge of the industry is not just about raising the bar, but also ensuring what is extraordinary today becomes something to be expected.

Having unrestricted access to free high-speed Wi-Fi at a Convention Centre was unheard of previously but our guests now expect this from us and increasingly from others as well, thereby raising standards for the industry.

With that technology in place, we can also leverage on the integration of mobile apps and the use of our digital network for meaningful interaction between our delegates and advertisers.

We have released our annual list of 100 key events for this year that focuses on areas of medical, technology and consumer events.

Our strategy is to attract new events, retain existing clients and move them towards multi-year, multi-events partnerships.

This year, we are also attracting brand new events to our Centre, such as CBME (Children, Baby & Maternity Expo) South East Asia and PARCEL-EXPO Asia Pacific that will be taking place soon at Suntec Singapore. 

BTN: We read recently Google Street View had been welcomed to Suntec Singapore in order to add the interiors of the location to Google Maps. In what ways does that benefit visitors to the convention centre?

AM:  We collaborated with Google in an effort to implement technology in support of outstanding client and visitor experiences.

Much like the integrated network of digital way finding screens that provide directions on site, Street View showcases the Centre from a computer or smartphone allowing customers the opportunity to explore Suntec Singapore at their leisure.

Through reducing the need for travelling to and from the Centre, this helps to reduce the carbon footprint by Suntec Singapore and time spent by clients during the planning stages.

The Google Street View also complements the Suntec Singapore Online Customer Portal, both tools allowing organisers and planners to have full control over their events hosted at the Centre from the comfort of their mobile devices.

The Customer Portal is a unique interactive service that transforms the way planners and organisers work with venues to manage their events from proposal to booking and the final delivery.

Organisers have access to a ‘live’ dashboard displaying the full details and scheduling of their bookings including meeting space, furniture, equipment, food and beverage items and digital signage allocation. 

BTN: Suntec Singapore was recently recognised as the World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre by the voters at the World Travel Awards. How did it feel to take that title?

AM: My team and I are very proud that our peers, clients, partners and organisers from around the world have taken the time to vote for us.

I believe that organisers who have attended an event at our Centre appreciate what we deliver to our guests and add to the industry as a whole.

Being voted World’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre affirms our strategy and focus on delivering a seamless customised experience where everything just works for our clients and their guests.

This global recognition underlines our commitment to deliver exceptional service and quality without leaving anything to chance.

I am confident that with the advantages afforded by our technology, facilities and dedicated teams, we will continue to exceed the expectations of our clients and set new benchmarks in the industry.