Singapore-based Petrina Goh is a meetings & events veteran. She began her career with CWT 7 years ago on the Meetings & Events operations team helping clients to run events around the globe. After realising her passion for building strategic programs, and creative event concepts for clients across multiple industries, she moved into a sales role in 2016 and promoted as Director, CWT Meetings & Events Singapore in 2019.
We talk to Petrina about the key meetings & events trends in the Asia Pacific region, her passion for building strategic programs and creative event concepts and the importance of not dwelling too long into problems or issues you cannot control.
What is the best thing about your role?
Definitely the people; both my clients and the team I work with. As I didn’t want to be in a deskbound job I chose a career in events. I love that every event is different and being able to be the creator and influencer of massively creative events. It constantly amazes me to watch how meaningful connections and conversations unfold during such an event, and it keeps me passionate about my job.
What are the most important trends and developments in the Asia Pacific Meetings & Events industry?
Sustainability and responsible event planning are hot topics in Asia Pacific right now, with a younger workforce driving the conversation around event planning.
Naturally COVID has shaped the way we look at meetings, and with a turn to virtual and hybrid events, planners and clients are starting to realise the impact of travel and how they can now better plan more environmentally-friendly events. We see an increasing interest in events with fully digital branding and wearable technology to exclude print and production, and micro and hybrid events that bring more meaningful conversations to the table, whilst reducing long-haul travel.
Creative event spaces and destinations have also become the centre of attention, as planners are more cautious when looking at places they can travel to and organize their events safely. There is a rising demand for more unique venues domestically as travel restrictions remain in place for companies. A new trend among planners is to transform ordinary spaces - such as coffee shops or container tanks - into swanky meeting and conference venues to create more talking points about their event.
What is the best thing we learned coming out of the pandemic with regards to meetings & events?
How tenacious and resilient our industry and people are. We’ve seen that the success of any economy and business is very much dependent on meetings and events and the connections and relationships that people build. Because of this, we’ve seen the industry transform tremendously in the offerings we can bring to customers, particularly from a technology and data perspective. Clients have seen the importance of having a strategy when it comes to virtual and hybrid meetings and a safe return to events, and how having the right partner will enable them to do this effectively and efficiently. And instead of waiting in the wings for events to return, how they can leverage on this crisis to build and showcase their brand. It is as they say: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.
Who gave you the best advice during your career?
One of the most memorable advice I’ve had was from my colleague Kelly Kuhn: “The windshield is big and the rear view mirror is small for a reason.” It reminds me to keep moving forward to overcome the challenges I face, and not to dwell too long on the problems or issues you cannot control. It’s the only way we can keep out-doing ourselves. If you just put a little faith in yourself and push yourself a little outside your comfort zone every day, when looking back, you’ll be amazed at just how far you’ve come.
How do companies and organizations need to approach their event planning going into the future?
With confidence and a strategic perspective. We’ve been in a 2-year season of change, and whilst regulations around events have remained fluid, we’re now in a state where intermediaries and venue providers are highly confident in their ability to manage these changes almost immediately. With hybrid events providing a very strong fall back when physical event capacities or travel regulations change, organizations can rest assured that they should forge ahead with strategic meeting planning as more solutions enter the market.
An example of this is a hub-and-spoke model type of global hybrid event, where long haul travel is reduced, but in-person connections can still take place regionally or locally, and then virtually for global connections. In this way, clients can achieve their sustainability and cost effectiveness goals for the event more easily, whilst ensuring attendees still feel connected to one another.
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