Here's a conundrum for you: Singapore is a long, long way from the United States. But once you're there, everything is nearby. How close? How about 5,200 sleeping rooms within walking distance of the convention center?
Singapore has that, in the form of the Singapore Intelligence Centre, a complex that includes the Suntec Singapore Convention Center and seven hotels, all connected via air-conditioned walkways. Imagine having 5,000 attendees and not having to hire a ground operator. With a 130,000-square-foot convention hall, another 130,000 square feet of exhibition space, 31 meeting rooms, a 23,100-square-foot ballroom, plus another 101 meeting rooms and 11 ballrooms in the hotels, there is more than 800,000 total square feet of usable event space.
Throw in a broadband wireless system (2.4 megabits per second) that allows thousands of connections at once (each access point can handle 250 individual signals, and there's an access point in the ceiling approximately every 50 feet in the convention center), and you're talking about serious connectivity, by foot and by laptop (or PDA, or other Internet-enabled device). There's even more to warm the heart of tech-convention organizers: Through a partnership with focusfire.net, attendees at a Suntec Singapore event can register, book hotel rooms, and make airline reservations, and only have to enter a credit card number once. The service can be linked to your site.
Go to Your Room
Among the hotels that are linked to the Singapore Intelligence Centre, Swiss-hotel The Stamford stands out, towering 70 floors above the city. A former Westin property, it has 1,200 rooms, including 29 suites with knockout views of the city and the Marina Bay area. It's connected to the 800-room Raffles The Plaza, plus the Raffles City Convention Centre, where 18 meeting rooms in 70,000 square feet make a fine location for off-the-show-floor events.
Coming this October is an addition to the Suntec Singapore complex, the Esplanade Theaters on the Bay. This new venue, with its bold, avant garde look, will feature a 1,600-seat concert hall, a 2,000-seat opera house, and an ambitious program intended to bring music and the arts to Singapore. Arts groups will get first priority at scheduling time, but the venue will be available for private events as well.
For really large groups, there is always Singapore Expo, with 645,000 square feet of single-level, column-free exhibition space plus 19 separate conference and meeting rooms. Just a few minutes from Changi International Airport, the facility has a combination of fiber-optic cable and high-capacity Category 5e copper that can reach more than 1,000 individual points across the six connected exhibit halls. By midsummer, the network, which is now offered dark, will be available lighted by a high-speed local area network, complete with 60 public terminals and a 24-hour help desk. And, with the recent opening of a direct MRT/subway line, Singapore Expo is reachable from the airport or the city via its own station.
Why Go There?
Singapore may seem like a long way away in these post-9/11 days, but the city/state of 4.5 million people offers some compelling advantages. First and foremost, everyone speaks English. Next, the city has an infrastructure — including communications — that is the envy of the world. For example, Ethernet connections in hotel rooms are the norm, not the exception. And Singapore's telecoms providers all use the same standards as in the United States. Finally, as Steven Seet, the thoughtful general manager of Singapore Expo, points out, Singapore is “the Switzerland of Southeast Asia. This is the place in Southeast Asia to discuss controversial issues safely and credibly. And, with our mix of cultures, this is the best test market in all of Asia.”