Taiwan gets smarter

Digital transformation has been central in Taiwan’s business events strategy during the absence of international events, placing the destination in a stronger position to compete for new-generation events.

As international meetings and events faded out of Taiwan over the past two years of the global health crisis, the government turned its attention to something that it could not do during the many years of packed business events calendar – it led a digital transformation in the business events industry.

Through staging virtual and hybrid events over the last two years, the industry was able to identify and rectify gaps in this capability that has shown to be critical for business continuity.

At the same time, Taiwan’s hotels and venues committed to upgrades while new experiences were born, all to prepare for the return of international events and attendees.

The Kaohsiung Exhibition Center hosted the Wind Energy Asia 2022 in March

Supporting the digitalisation effort is the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), which created an online exhibition platform that provides product displays and online meeting services to enable Taiwan’s industries to communicate with foreign buyers throughout the pandemic. A TAITRA spokesperson also shared that smart technology and big data analysis were introduced to various business activities, which “not only improved the efficiency of events but also captured more business opportunities through precise marketing methods”.

“With the dynamic power of technologies and digitalisation, we will continue to work together with MICE professionals to revitalise the industry and propel it forward in the post-pandemic era,” the spokesperson added.

TAITRA’s digitalisation focus echoes through the industry, with many event venues investing in facility upgrades to ensure they are ready for future events.

Taipei World Trade Center, TAINEX 1, TAINEX 2 and Kaohsiung Exhibition Center are all equipped with 5G communications, allowing event participants and visitors to quickly locate booths on their smart devices.

Also in on the technology game is the 30-year-old Taipei International Convention Center (TICC), which established a brand-new digital studio, TICC 103 iStudio, in 2021 to appeal to meeting planners. The facility can support livestreams, webinars as well as virtual and hybrid meetings.

Set to complete in 2023, Taoyuan Exhibition Centre will boost the destination’s venue portfolio with 10 meeting rooms that can take between 100 and 2,000 attendees.

When Kaohsiung Exhibition Center (KEC) hosted gaming event League of Legends: Wild Rift in November 2021, 5G experiential visits surged past 41,700, including onsite and online livestreaming. The figure was 10 times more than in-person visitors during the physical event.

Come August, KEC will welcome the 11th Creative Expo Taiwan, the largest gathering for the creative industry.

Michael Tu, president of KEC/Interplan Group, told TTGmice that the venue’s digital transformation has bestowed it with various technical solutions, such as 3D 4K Beam Display projection and 360-degree real-time production, to deliver immersive exhibitions and events.

“Along with our 5G infrastructure, we will inspire PEOs and PCOs to create unforgettable hybrid experiences for the satisfaction of visitors and attendees,” Tu added.

However, GIS Group, founder and CEO, Jason Yeh, noted that not all venues in Taiwan are equipped with 5G infrastructure even as demand is moving towards the high-tech end.

Episode Hsinchu

“High-tech exhibitors demonstrating interaction between robots or hosting game shows with Virtual Reality devices require very low‑latency and low-delay. Wi-Fi is not enough to support such exercises, and 5G is the best solution now. But as not all venues are (equipped) with 5G, it results in very high cost for set up on a project basis,” said Yeh.

That limitation aside, Pairry Chiang, director of impact with event organiser Asia Concentrate Corporation, said technology could be harnessed for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Chiang shared that a proposal was put to MEET Taiwan, the events promotions agency of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to play a leading role in connecting PCOs with various technology companies to help events meet SDGs.

For instance, the Asia Pacific Social Innovation Summit in May 2022 has made sustainability a key focus this year. It utilised the Taiwan iPass, an electronic ticket loaded with tourism resources, to encourage attendees to rely on mass transportation. Local ingredients were also prioritised in the preparation of lunchboxes.

“There are many things MEET Taiwan can assist to make business events in Taiwan more sustainable,” opined Chiang.

Meanwhile, event planners considering Taiwan will be glad to know that the accommodation scene has not remained stagnant during the travel freeze.

Ten new hotels were opened in 2020 and 2021, with more in the pipeline. Some of the upcoming openings include Hotel Indigo Alishan in Chiayi County, Wyndham Sun Moon Lake and InterContinental Taichung Hotel.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has also extended its footprint in Taiwan, where on April 1, it opened Episode Hsinchu. Following that later this year is Hyatt Place New Taipei City Xinzhuang, as well as Park Hyatt Taipei, Andaz Taipei, Hyatt Centric Songshan Taipei, and Hyatt Regency Kaohsiung – all set to launch over the next two years.