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Tech and data key to transforming the travel trade


THE tourism industry can use technology to sharpen marketing efforts, refresh tourism products and transform business processes for greater productivity, Trade and Industry minister S Iswaran said.

"Data, and our ability to harness this resource, is going to be a defining feature of how we go forward," he said in a speech at the annual Tourism Industry Conference.

Singapore Tourism Board chief Lionel Yeo, also speaking on this, homed in on the ways the industry is using technology and data to transform itself.

Among them is the Tourism Information and Services Hub (TIH), a B2B2C online platform with up-to-date information on Singapore's tourism offerings, events and the latest deals.

TIH is also introducing plug-and-play travel software services for tourism businesses; it enables them to draw content and services - such as navigation functions and a smart itinerary planner - for their own app or website for free.

The information is up to date too. If an attraction changes its operating hours, for example, the new information will be reflected in real-time on linked websites and apps.

Mr Iswaran pointed out, however, that scale is key, and encouraged stakeholders to take part in the initiative so that greater value can be derived by all participants.

Mr Yeo said the STB will make its analytics network available to the industry in phases. The Singapore Tourism Analytics Network, or Stan as it is known, analyses data on visitors such as arrivals, modes of travel, spending and movement patterns.

This week, Expedia entered into a partnership with the STB, under which the travel website will share data on bookings from overseas visitors bound for Singapore with the tourism agency.

Expedia's director for global product management Ho-Strangas Shyn Yee said: "We will share insights throughout the booking-research process, shopping for the travel product online and ultimately into the booking.

"That insight will allow the other STB partners to really customise and personalise a seamless experience for the traveller coming into Singapore."

This builds on existing partnerships the STB has with Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Sentosa's chief information officer Soh Keng Taan said: "We've gained some insights in terms of how much time guests spend at attractions. That's useful for us because we can understand our guests better and give personalised experiences either through the web or the app."

This could include navigational services for the island through its app.

Other broader initiatives in the works include the upcoming Marvel Studios exhibition at the ArtScience Museum (under the STB's partnership with Disney) and a new night experience, Rainforest Lumina, at the Singapore Zoo.

Mr Yeo said STB's Marketing College will offer online courses to Singapore-registered tourism stakeholders from the second half of this year.

Last year, the Republic chalked up record highs in tourism spending and visitor arrivals for the second year running, attracting 17.4 million visitors who spent S$26.8 billion.

This year, tourism receipts are slated to grow by between 1 and 3 per cent to hit S$27.1 billion to S$27.6 billion.

The number of visitor arrivals may edge up by 1 to 4 per cent to reach between 17.6 million and 18.1 million, the STB has projected.