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IFES Singapore Summit expands horizons

The WS 2023 concluded by handing the baton to Malaga, Spain, which will host the 2024 Summit.

June 2023 saw the International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services (IFES) hosting their first completely sold-out IFES World Summit in the spectacular setting of Singapore’s Marina Bay area. In 2023, international IFES delegates and local Singaporean service providers converged at the Annual General Meeting and three-day conference for an intense get-together under the banner of “Expanding Horizons”.

The welcome event, MeetMe@ThePool, set the scene, where attendees from across the globe gathered for cocktails against the breathtaking backdrop of the Singapore skyline at the venue’s pool level.

IFES Industry Initiatives

The business side of proceedings kicked off with three Breakaway Sessions; Sustainability (progress and way forward), Educational Initiatives/IFES Talent Team (revitalisation across six upcoming education/exchange programs), and a session in the main convention room on “How to make the most of Your IFES Membership”;, highlighting the many collaborative, promotional and sponsorship opportunities and inviting industry recommendations. Takeaways from these meetings, along with some thought-provoking audience suggestions, promise to continue to increase value for IFES members over the coming year.

The AGM took attendees through the changes and activities that have taken place over the past twelve months, reiterating IFES’ involvement with the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative and Smart Production & Waste Management workstream, ISO 20121 training opportunities, and active participation in Ufi’s Sustainable Development Working Group. Representatives from IFES partners JMIC and IAPCO also explored collaboration potential between the parties to benefit members of all three organisations.

The 20 (of this year’s 50) new members who managed to physically attend this year’s Summit, were given a hearty welcome and introduction to the global network. Inviting them to share their insights into the challenges they face working abroad, the values most important to them as association members, and to contribute ideas they would like to see implemented yielded some interesting and inspiring answers to stretch IFES thinking.

Exploring Asian Markets

The association seeks to increase representation in Asia and generate productive business relationships with local providers. With this in mind, some of the region’s top speakers conducted a deep-dive into the Asian market with Mark Cochrane’s (Ufi) outstanding delivery of “The State of the Asian Exhibition Industry After COVID”, Richard Ireland’s (Clarion Events)  illuminating “Singapore, the green gateway to capturing growth opportunities in Southeast Asia”, Michael Kruppe’s (SNIEC) exploration of “CHINA RELOADED 2.0 / Changes and Challenges to be watched”, Sarah Markey-Hamm’s (ICMS) “Overview of the Australasia Exhibition + Event Market" and Sonia Prashar’s (NürnbergMesse India) intense exploration of “The Indian Exhibition Industry: A Gateway to New Markets and Opportunities.”


Sustainability is a crucial driver within IFES, and the association prides itself on being a “first-mover”, aiming to instil sustainability into the very DNA of the exhibition industry. IFES World Summit’s early birds and enthusiastic runners participated in a scenic run/walk, calling attention to the IFES sustainability drive in magenta pink IFES shirts along the busy Marina Bay strip.

Sukumar Verma (Informa Markets) turned the “Spotlight on Sustainability in Singapore”, which segued into a robust panel discussion including himself, Alexander Alles (JMIC), Arthur Zhang (Thornehope Marketing) and Michael Kruppe (SNIEC), skillfully moderated by Joerg Zeissig (Holtmann+).

Event the after-event Tourist activities incorporated a sustainability element. Participants in the Green Singapore Tourist Program got to explore nature along the Northern Shores (Punggol-Coney-Pasir Ris), bike through the coastal forests and go “plogging”; to clear the coast of Coney Island and the waterways of Punggol of plastic waste.

Beyond Boundaries

While the entire event aimed to “Expand Horizons”, Daniel Tjan of Gevme really took attendees “Beyond Boundaries: Unleashing the Potential of AI, Metaverse, AR, and Omnichannel in the Exhibition and Event Industry,” to explore the potential of technological innovation to revolutionise the industry.

Experts suggest that AI will be 1,000x more powerful by 2030 than it is today, and this eye-opening presentation unpacked how generative AI boosts productivity and sparks creativity, which, combined with the immersive potential of the Metaverse and Augmented Reality, will enhance annual face-to-face events with digital experiences to meet the evolving needs of today’s B to B buyer.

Exploring Local and Global Trends

DP Design’s Claudia Nam delivered a thoughtful and inspirational presentation around “The Value of Design in Creating Transformative Experiences”, explaining the value of placemaking events in broadening horizons and widening perspectives. This glimpse into Asian culture was quickly followed by Kingsmen’s Andrew Cheng’s comprehensive insights into “The Pulse of Asian Consumers – An Asian Perspective.”

The Next Generation

A good proportion of this year’s event belonged to the next generation, with Martijn Besaris (The Inside) and Ella Grossmann (Z3 Live Communication) introducing the IFES Talent Team (ITT), World Coffee with Vanessa Aguilar of Happy Projects and an enlightening panel comprising Paco Collazo (Happy Projects), Dominique Bohler (IFES) and Andrew Stevens (Stevens E3) who conducted a heartfelt exploration of why “Motivation Matters: Inspiring and Engaging Young Professionals in the Workplace.”

It is becoming increasingly important to ensure that the younger generation shares their ideas and brainstorms solutions to take the industry forward, and a campaign targeting the young players ensured that over a third of this year’s attendees fell into the under-35 age bracket, allowing plenty of scope for young talent at IFES WS 23. The ITT section wrapped with an energetic and disruptive talk presented by UFI’s Next Generation Leaders 2022. Joseph Kowalsky and Monika Baro demonstrated how harnessing talents and reimagining our branding as a community-building industry can be directly linked to revenue optimisation.

Improving the IFES experience

The IFES family returned home with a deepened understanding of the Asian markets, inspired by the fresh winds of the next generation, galvanised by the imperative of bringing sustainability into all exhibition and event–related business activities, and motivated to incorporate the Metaverse, ChatGPT, AR and Omni Channel strategy into the exhibitions and events industry.

As always, the advancement of the industry and continuous development within the association is a key focus, and incorporating all the suggestions received will take IFES forward into the next twelve months with renewed impetus.

The WS 2023 concluded by handing the baton to Malaga, Spain, which will host the 2024 Summit.

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.