The free-wheeling, money-making machine that is the World’s 50 Best Awards is headed to Singapore. William Reed Business Media, the U.K.-based trade media company behind the awards show, announced yesterday that the company has finalized a three-year partnership deal with the Singapore Tourism Board to host a number of events in Singapore, including the flagship World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards show in 2019.
It’s the first time that William Reed has entered into an official partnership with a host city that promises future events beyond the awards show next year. According to the deal, William Reed will host a variety of World’s 50 Best events stretching into 2021, including the World’s 50 Best Bars awards (marking the first time that this show will be hosted outside of London) and an edition of the 50 Best Talks, a “thought-leadership event” that is hosted in a rotating cast of cities.
It’s also the first time that a city in Asia will play host to the main restaurants awards show, although a World’s 50 Best subsidiary, the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards show, has been held in Singapore from 2013 to 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand from 2016 to 2017, and in Macao, China in 2018.
The World’s 50 Best organization has fielded plenty of criticism for its restaurant selection, from not including enough women to narrowly representing what makes a world-class restaurant — in this case, more often than not it’s a western tasting menu-style, high-priced establishment. And there’s no guarantee that a location change, even to what has become high-profile food-lovers’ paradise, will impact the awards themselves.
The Singapore Tourism Board has been working hard to position itself as a luxury travel destination, as Skift has covered extensively. Earlier this year, the board told Skift that about 70 percent of the U.S. tourism market in Singapore is leisure-focused, and just 30 percent business-focused.
In that sense, the World’s 50 Best partnership is a smart step forward to cementing that luxury image. In past years, William Reed has proven that the World’s 50 Best show is a beneficial marketing move for local tourism boards. Tourism Australia, which hosted the awards show in 2017, previously told Skift Table that they measured over five billion global media impressions from the thousands of articles that were generated from the event, and the state of Victoria saw a 50 percent increase in restaurant bookings after the awards show. The exposure would have been the equivalent of an advertising spend of $42.5 million in U.S. dollars.
That visibility didn’t come entirely for free, though: according to the New York Times, Tourism Australia paid approximately $600,000 USD to be an official World’s 50 Best sponsor. The Singapore Tourism Board declined to elaborate on the funding behind their partnership, citing business confidentiality reasons.
-Erika Adams (skift.com)