JESSIE LIM Director of Conference Services & Sustainability at Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford & Co-op Member of 43rd Executive Committee of SACEOS

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MS. What was an early project that you’re proud of, as well as an early career-defining moment? Please share with us your professional journey, hurdles overcome and milestones achieved so far.

Jessie Lim. I’d say the pre-opening of Sofitel Sentosa was definitely a career-defining moment, having to oversee the refurbishments of the Hotel’s function rooms; to developing and ensuring a seamless operationalisation of new SOPs for the events teams within a short time frame. I started my career in events management with Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre before moving to France in 2005, where I joined Liberty Incentives, a destination management company. Upon my return to Singapore, I had the opportunity to be part of Singapore Tourism Board, lending support to foreign MICE companies to set up offices in Singapore. I’ve also worked closely with SACEOS to develop the local MICE industry.

I subsequently moved into the hospitality industry working for several international hotel groups including Accor, Park Hotel Group and Hilton Hotels & Resorts. In the midst of these years, I made a career switch to teaching & training, when I taught at SHATEC for a period; a time I thoroughly enjoyed. Looking back, I’m humbly proud of my achievements along the way, especially the positive impact in the careers of committed and passionate individuals I’ve had the privilege to work with in my teams.

MS. What role has SACEOS played in advancing Singapore as a MICE hub and how this organisation is closely involved with Singapore’s plans to expand this sector. As a Co-Opt member at SACEOS, what would be your top priorities?

Jessie Lim. Established since 1979, SACEOS has played a pivotal role in positioning Singapore as a MICE hub; having been the voice and champion of the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry. It has been instrumental in helping those in the business to develop and prosper, and to work closely with the government to meet the objectives of positioning Singapore as an international MICE hub.

As a Co-Opt member at SACEOS, my top priorities would be to focus on our sustainability efforts with sound strategic management to ensure cost effectiveness and build Singapore’s reputation as a sustainable MICE city.

MS. Strategically located in the heart of Singapore’s business, shopping and entertainment districts, Please describe some of the key aspects of Fairmont Singapore, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts that distinguish it from other hotels.

Jessie Lim. Fairmont Singapore, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ pioneer property in Asia comprises 778 guestrooms and suites, and offers a distinct collection of 13 restaurants and bars, the award-winning 50,000 sqft Willow Stream Spa and the cutting-edge Raffles City Convention Centre, offering 108,000 sqft of prime, flexible function space, with 34 meeting rooms. Strategically located in the heart of Singapore’s business, shopping and entertainment districts, Fairmont Singapore is where sophisticated travellers discover culturally rich experiences that are authentic to the Lion City.

MS. How many regional, national and international conventions, meetings and trade shows, are hosted by Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford? Please share your experience on some of your recently held events at your venue.

Jessie Lim. It’s hard to put a figure to it but as the first large scale, integrated and centrally-located convention venue; we’ve played host to numerous iconic events both locally as well as from overseas over the years, including the 28th South East Asia Games; 32nd Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC 2016); Google Cloud Summit; and the 5th Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference; just to name some.

With hardly any inbound travel and a huge clamp down on events due to safe management measures (SMMs) since the onset of the pandemic, the overall hotel and events industry in Singapore has admittedly witnessed a significant business slowdown unlike one we’ve yet experienced. Despite having seen some physical events returning in 2021, the current business events landscape remains in a state of flux and the overall industry situation still fluid with guidelines, restrictions and SMMs periodically evolving with updates and changes. We have had to cover more ground and work with organsiers on their event applications, and be flexible with last minute changes due to the uncertainty of international travel still. Having said that, with Singapore easing our travel restrictions and event guidelines, we have seen a hike in event enquiries for the upcoming months.

MS. Do you have any specific predictions regarding how the hotel sector will change? Have you integrated any technological advancements? What sustainable steps have you implemented?

Jessie Lim. In terms of manpower support, the hotel sector will have to be “creative” in attracting new hires, and also keeping the current pool of talents. We have introduced several technological advancements such as Automated Check-in Counters; Contactless Check-In; and using AI to monitor food waste. We also launched the world’s first urban Aquaponics farm in 2019, which remains one of our key sustainable initiatives to create awareness on food waste; reduction in carbon emissions, single-use plastics and more.

MS. What have been your biggest takeaways from the industry? What are your learnings from the pandemic and how it has changed the face of the MICE industry?

Jessie Lim. That we as an industry are all in this together, so we need to support one another and with that we will come back stronger. I believe we’ve all had our own thoughts and reflections as a result of the pandemic. My key takeaways are to be adaptive to the volatility of the situation so that we can be flexible to respond to changes quickly. Be prepared to do things differently, and think of alternatives/solutions with your clients. They will appreciate the support and put their trust in you. Be open to learn new knowledge, skills and technologies, including the new norms of doing events and adapt to what you can offer to your clients in order to enhance your unique and differentiated positioning.

MS. Are there any trends shaping the MICE industry that you can anticipate?

Jessie Lim. Definitely a stronger and continued focus on sustainability

MS. On another note, what do you enjoy the most about your work? Please share your hobbies, what keeps you busy when you are away from work?

Jessie Lim. My team who motivates and keeps me on the ground daily, as well as the sense of fulfilment knowing that I have assisted my clients in executing a successful event.

I’m quite an active and adventurous person. I enjoy outdoor hiking, cycling and travelling.