Asia Super Team event helps participants learn more about Taiwan and about themselves. By Nareerat Wiriyapong in Taipei
Asia Super Team, in its fifth edition this year, has drawn growing interest from enthusiasts who want to explore the diverse resources and facets of Taiwanese tourism while igniting their own passion and nurturing team spirit.
Organised by the Bureau of Foreign Trade and staged by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (Taitra), the fifth Asia Super Team competition formed an Incentive Travel Cloud platform in which corporate teams from eight Asian markets took on roles as "elite interns" to discover the variety of the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) industry in Taiwan.
With the theme "Dare for Future", participating teams of professionals accomplished four challenges: Dare to Perceive focused on food-related themes in Tainan, the origin of many Taiwanese cuisines; Dare to Perfect, learning how to hand-paint movie billboards from a local master; Dare to Discover, picking and tasting unique Taiwanese tea in Meishan and Chiayi; and Dare to Experience, visiting an aboriginal community to take part in traditional dances and make mochi.
After three days of intensive competition, they were immersed in the passion and friendliness of local people as they practised "High Five Taiwan" gestures on the streets of Taipei.
This year's event drew eight teams from Singapore, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. They came from leading companies such as Yuanta Securities Korea, Malaysia's Digi Telecommunications, Manulife Vietnam, Singapore's New Shan Travel, the Thai advertising agency Carat, and AnyMind Group from Indonesia. The winning team was selected based on the combined results of local contests and online voting.
With their strong and active personalities, the Indonesian representatives triumphed to take home the grand prize of an incentive travel package to Taiwan valued at US$50,000.
First introduced in 2014, Asia Super Team is intended to build creative itineraries and present a new face of incentive travel in Taiwan by integrating brand-new themes each year with unique commercial tourism highlights.
Since 2014, when Singapore won the inaugural competition, the event has helped to transform how international business travellers perceive the industry in Taiwan, and created a new model for business-to-business marketing.
The 2015 competition, under the theme "Team Up for Good", incorporated charitable causes into its challenges, so companies could create positive energy while inspiring their teams. The "Almighty Player" event in 2016 integrated a gaming design into the challenge. Participants experienced various Mice venues, festivals and events through engaging and entertaining online and offline activities. The new design allowed for the inclusion of more exciting itineraries.
Last year, Asia Super Team: Adventure to Dreams incorporated data-driven insights from more than 4,000 participants in its first cross-market incentive travel survey, which replaced the finalist selection process for the first stage. Survey findings were used to more precisely assess companies' abilities to plan and organise incentive travel trips in Taiwan.
The Indonesian team practises dancing at an aboriginal community in Taiwan.
In addition to continuously expanding and building on Taiwan's competitive advantages in the Mice industry, the project helps with marketing under the broader Meet Taiwan branding campaign, strengthening public awareness of the Mice industry both locally and abroad.
For participating teams, Asia Super Team provides a good chance to experience the beauty and culture of Taiwan while getting to know new friends from other countries. Good teamwork and a willingness to learn about different cultures are important for anyone aspiring to win.
"Taiwan is a very dynamic country. It has scenery, food and many activities to do like shopping. There is something for everybody," Singapore captain Than Yi Jiun told Asia Focus after the team won the "Dare to Perceive" stage in Tainan.
This was her fourth visit to Taiwan for Asia Super Team and to "enjoy things together as a team" with her colleagues, the 26-year-old added.
Thai team member Angsumarin Budphosn, who was visiting Taiwan for the first time, said she found the local food and culture the most interesting aspects.
"We came looking for friendship, and we see the potential of people from other teams that represent their countries. How do they express themselves? That explains the identity of each country," the administrative officer told Asia Focus.
"On self-introduction, for example, we prepared but we found other teams did better. Then we realised we have to be more creative and differentiate ourselves from others."
Team building and willingness to understand the cultures of other countries are important, said Ms Angsumarin. "Tasting the food is one example of how we can learn to adjust ourselves to a different culture. If we did not try their food, which represents Taiwanese culture, and the team members don't help each other, we would never win."
Thailand team captain Sineenart Ardhan said that to win the competition, a strong network is also important as all the online votes are counted. "The larger the network you have, the better the chance you will win," she said.
Indonesia team caption Lidyawati Bong, country manager of Anymind Group, said she really wanted to return to Taiwan in the future as the team was impressed with the scenery, the food and the culture, especially the tea-making experience.
"At first, we wanted to do something for members in the office to have fun. When we came here, we knew we really wanted to win the competition and we made it," said the first-time visitor.
"After winning the competition, we want to come back," she told Asia Focus at the awards ceremony.
"My mum asked me as she really wants to come to Taiwan with her friends but I don't have a plan yet. We will come back again for sure with my mum. I will tell my friends about Taiwan too."