Staff Writer
Jan 4, 2019

Editors' Choice: Our favourite venues and bureaus from 2018

The CEI team spotlights the outstanding venues and convention bureaus of the past year.

Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (left) and ICC Sydney's menu options.
Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (left) and ICC Sydney's menu options.


Something of a ‘rising star’ award, this category aims to recognise a young player for efforts over the past year. Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur deservingly snags this award because of a variety of reasons, chief of which is its sheer size. 

Being the third-largest venue in Southeast Asia at 45,000sqm, it can host ‘mega-exhibitions’ for over 100,000 visitors and conventions for 20,000. And in just the past year it’s been operating, an impressive total of 352,148 visitors have stepped through its doors. 

A cherry on the cake is its heavy-duty loading exhibition halls on one level that have a maximum floor loading of 50kN/sqm, which is able to support the weight of heavy machinery and vehicles––the first of its kind in Malaysia. Ceilings also go up to 36m high.

MITEC has also keenly signed MoUs and partnerships throughout the year with local and global organisations. This has helped bring in new events and opportunities for the centre, who then go on to provide incentives such as stakeholder support, including funding, and incubator attention, especially in the fields of digital automation, smart manufacturing, agriculture, medicine, science and technology, aerospace, innovation and education.


Kpop group Superjunior

Korea MICE Bureau had a challenging 2017 following the THAAD standoff, which left the country’s tourism and business meeting sectors reeling from sanctions by Chinese groups. 2018, nevertheless, started off on the right note thanks to the resounding success of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and thawing relations with its northern neighbour. 

The bureau later turned to the country’s best cultural exports—K-pop and hallyu to promote its meetings and business events sector. Halllyu-meets-MICE was launched during the Korea MICE Expo held in the summer with popular boy band Shinee appointed as the official ambassador of Korea MICE Tourism. 

The move to work with entertainment giant SM Group for Halllyu-meets-MICE was a pragmatic one due to the huge demand for hallyu experiences among incentive group travellers. Among the hallyu offerings for meetings and incentive delegates include K-pop dance schools and visits to SM Entertainment Museum. 


Australia is a land of wonderful produce, and the major convention centres in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide are capitalising on its bounty. But one centre that has garnered special industry attention for its food and freshness is ICC Sydney, just over two years in operation now. 

At the heart of its culinary programme is its Feeding Your Performance (FYP) philosophy, aimed at supporting New South Wales (NSW) farmers. Ingredients are sourced through local supply chains and the impact of this extends beyond city borders and into regional NSW communities. This approach has so far generated AU$4.3 million (US$3.1 million) in direct expenditure for a network of more than 85 NSW farmers and a wine list featuring 83% NSW names. 

The ability to scale freshness across large events and customise to dietary needs are problems often faced by convention centres. But ICC Sydney powered through Sibos 2018, which proved to be a complex brief for the culinary team led by the capable Lynell Peck. For the 7,500-strong event, they erected an 1,800-seat, purpose-built Sibos Restaurant housed within one of the centre’s exhibition halls. The team also designed customised food and beverage options daily, menus for 78 exhibitor cocktail parties, and offered on-stand catering for over 130 exhibitors.


Reusable straws may have become fashionable overnight, but we believe there are other ways to play the sustainability card. Take Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center, which has successfully implemented several practical steps to cut down on wastage in its daily operations. For starters, the centre has put in place a badge return policy that achieves a return rate of 60%. 

On top of that, organisers are urged to use the LCD and TV screens set up at the entrances of meeting rooms and halls for information display. Plus, the centre said that organisers are encouraged to do away with carpeting and to set up their booths with reusable materials. 

Nangang is part of the Green MICE project initiated by MEET Taiwan. The organisation has identified 900 sustainable issues and 66 sustainable goals, many of which the centre commits to. For instance, in 2016, it reported that annual electricity costs were down by NT$2.72 million (US$88,324 in 2019) due to reduced transformer core loss. 

Other conservation efforts include rainwater harvesting for toilets which has managed to save the centre US$14,122 in water expenses each year. Nangang was also the first exhibition centre in Asia to earn the ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management Systems certification in 2014, contributing to Taiwan taking home the UFI Sustainable Development Award in 2016. 


Huone Singapore may be a small fish among the city’s many luxury hotels and convention centres, but this independent venue has managed to attract big-ticket names such as Google and Facebook. This is largely attributed to its many thematic rooms that reflect the creativity and uniqueness of the space. 

While creative event spaces–– including museums, cafés and warehouses––have surged in Singapore, none have specifically catered to corporate meetings. “Although event and meeting spaces are both targeted at corporates, the requirements of a corporate meeting versus a corporate event are quite different,” said Joewin Tan, CEO for Huone Singapore. For instance, a corporate meeting might require daylight, but not so much for corporate events. 

Another reason Huone has done well is its understanding of how spaces can affect clients’ return-on-meetings. Details the team take into consideration include the choice of colours that affect participants’ mood and engagement levels, modular furniture to facilitate ad-hoc turnover from big to smaller groups, and of course, daylight to keep participants focused. 


The rest of the world can only marvel as South Korea regularly upgrades its internet connection speed to rates we can only dream of. In fact, as of 2017, it once again had the fastest average internet connection speed––some four times faster than the world average. Plans to roll out 1Gbit/s connections will take that to a whopping 142 times faster.

So it’s nice to see the one of the country’s major venues giving visitors a chance to experience life in the future. 

At IMEX Frankfurt last year, Kintex received the INCON Digital Infrastructure Award alongside ICC Sydney for using its high-tech tools to make events better and planners’ jobs easier. Its initiatives include Kintex TV––the world’s first convention and exhibition specialised web TV that enables live broadcasts of events, production and transmission of content.

The Kintex team also helps organisers build event web pages and apps, while a large LED display on its outer wall provides a great canvas for communication.

For the 5th Inside FinTech Conference in November, its infrastructure was put to the test delivering sessions on blockchain, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing to more than 2,000 fintech professionals. 


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