14 February 2019

Experience Nihonbashi culture at the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

The Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo has completed a renovation of its 179 guestrooms and suites that combines Japanese craftmanship with the latest technology to ensure a thoroughly contemporary Japanese experience.

Textile designer Reiko Sudo and art director Ryu Kosaka have transformed the guestrooms and suites, and built on the existing woods and water interior design theme. To honour the hotel’s location in Nihonbashi, an area that is closely connected to the culture of the kimono, Sudo has used locally-produced fabrics in all suite and guestroom interiors.

Bespoke fabrics and furnishings representing the woodlands and the changing seasons have been incorporated throughout, with autumn leaf colours of gold, orange and purple and blooming springtime wisteria and sakura patterns embroidered onto headboards.

All accommodation has also been equipped with the latest Internet protocol television (IPTV), which allows for high-quality picture and sound from both Apple and Android devices to be experienced on 49-77" screens.

Mandarin Grand Rooms

Contemporary Japanese style and materials abound, ranging from an embroidered headboard depicting weeping cherry blossoms to a light fixture made from bamboo strings. Curvaceous lines, such as the round table and curved back for the chaise longue, create a welcoming atmosphere.


Featuring the original Flower Shower textile pattern on furnishings, such as the sofa and chairs in the living room, the hotel’s restyled suites are designed to conjure up thoughts of blissful moments with flowers. A wisteria in full bloom is embroidered onto each headboard, while each bedside chest is crafted with wood from the Paulownia tree.

A silver-leaf round table and gold-leaf embossed cabinet brighten the living room, while the carpet blends the look of Japanese ink and brush work with a motif of clouds and gentle breezes, a nod to the extensive views of Tokyo that can be enjoyed from the hotel’s suites.

Another quintessentially Japanese highlight are lampshades inspired by the andon, a traditional Japanese lamp. Made from washi paper, these have been placed in asymmetrical positions throughout each bedroom.

Source: Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo website. The Presidential Suite.

Presidential Suite

The 250 sq m Presidential Suite is the largest and most luxurious suite in the hotel. Inspired by gardens and bonsai, the suite is a beautiful reference to nature, conjuring a feeling of walking in a park, including specially-commissioned photographic wall artwork depicting inspirational treescapes from Tokyo’s parks.

Featuring an abundance of natural daylight and several distinctive seating areas, the living room is the perfect spot for enjoying drinks. There is a separate library.

The nature theme continues in the dining room, which is dressed with a photographic mural depicting sun shining through the tree branches from one of Tokyo’s parks. The dining room’s ceiling light resembles the sun and its cabinets are decorated with motifs of birds, butterflies and plants.

The bedroom ceiling is created to give the illusion of looking at the sky through trees, while its carpet design evokes the world of origami. Offering sweeping views across Tokyo, the bathroom is equipped with a bathtub that has built-in fibreoptic lighting that colours the bathwater.

When visible, Mount Fuji can be viewed from any part of the Presidential Suite.


The ballroom is fitted with 36 projectors enabling 360-degree projection - the first of its kind in Japan. All rooms are fitted with high speed Internet connections, both wired and wireless. The hotel also offers screens in all conference and meeting rooms, an advanced lighting system, TV conferencing facilities, and LAN cabling on request. A dedicated conference manager will oversee each event, managing details such as rooms, catering and meeting facilities.

As part of an event, the hotel can devise a programme of cultural experiences for delegates including Bushido martial art lessons, traditional tea ceremonies or receiving gifts of bespoke fans created by historic local craftsmen.

There are also two private conference rooms for up to four executives.


Book Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo’s Nihonbashi Package which includes accommodation, breakfast for two and the choice of a cultural experience in the historic Nihonbashi district.

13 February 2019

TADA to roll out taxi rides in Singapore

From 19 February 2019, Singapore’s first zero-commission ride-hailing service, TADA, will launch AnyTADA, a service which offers flat fares* for Premier Taxi rides.

AnyTADA matches riders to the physically-closest TADA driver, whether in a registered TADA private-hire vehicle (PHV) or a TADA-registered Premier Taxi. The customer is informed of the fare when requesting the ride. 

Riders can opt for flat fares or metered fares. PHV fare options are flat-fare. A rider who would like a flat-fare taxi ride will be charged the same flat fare as with a PHV ride.

“Taxi drivers can earn more with flat fare and at the same time, customers will have more assurance that their fares will not suddenly increase because of traffic conditions or choice of route to destination. This is indeed a win-win situation which also reduces chance of disputes between passenger and drivers,” said Armstrong Ho, a Premier Taxi driver.

“Despite a more competitive landscape in ride-hailing, we are thankful that we continue to enjoy strong support from our growing TADA community. We believe that our stable and fair fares continue to attract a large segment of riders who prioritise sustainability and service above short-term promotions. AnyTADA is a step towards improving the experience for our riders to help them commute safely and more efficiently,” said Kay Woo, CEO and Founder of MVL Foundation.

As part of MVL’s commitment towards improving the driver experience, TADA recently implemented an auto-despatch function for drivers to receive back-to-back orders automatically.


Customers can begin to use AnyTADA after updating their TADA app at the App Store or Play Store. 

*The upfront fare excludes prevailing electronic road pricing (ERP) charges and surcharges such as additional stops, baby and booster seats.

9 February 2019

Mastercard introduces audio brand identity

Mastercard debuts its sonic brand identity, a melody that signifies the latest advancement for the brand. Wherever consumers engage with Mastercard across the globe – be it physical, digital or voice environments - the distinct and memorable Mastercard melody will provide familiarity, the brand said.

The news comes on the heels of the company’s recent transition to a symbol brand - one without the company's name - and is part of its continued brand transformation.

“Sound adds a powerful new dimension to our brand identity and a critical component to how people recognise Mastercard today and in the future,” said Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard.

“We set out an ambitious goal to produce the Mastercard melody in a way that’s distinct and authentic, yet adaptable globally and across genres. It is important that our sonic brand not only reinforces our presence, but also resonates seamlessly around the world.”

To ensure the Mastercard melody would resonate with people the world over, Mastercard tapped musicians, artists and agencies from across the globe, including musical innovator Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park.

The result is a distinct melody that maintains a consistent global brand voice. In addition, the use of varying instruments and tempos help to deliver the Mastercard melody in several unique styles such as operatic, cinematic and playful and that is open to a number of regional interpretations.

The Mastercard melody is the foundation of the company’s sound architecture and will extend to many assets, from musical scores, sound logos and ringtones, to hold music and point-of-sale acceptance sounds.

“What I love most about the Mastercard melody, is just how flexible and adaptable it is across genres and cultures,” said Shinoda.

“It’s great to see a big brand expressing themselves through music to strengthen their connection with people.”

With voice shopping set to hit US$40 billion by 2022 , according to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants, audio identities are set to connect brands with consumers on a new dimension.

"Audio makes people feel things, and that's what makes it such a powerful medium for brands, said Matt Lieber, Cofounder and President, Gimlet.

“With the explosion of podcasts, music streaming, and smart speakers, an audio strategy is no longer a nice-to-have for brands — it’s a necessity. A sonic identity — the audio calling card for a brand — is now just as important as a brand’s visual identity.”

In the lead up to the 61st GRAMMY Awards (February 10 US time), Mastercard will launch a new multichannel marketing programme starring GRAMMY-nominated artist Camila Cabello, which will be the first creative output to feature the brand’s sound logo.

Following the US introduction, the Mastercard sound will head to The BRIT Awards in London, UK and then Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Additional activations and sonic integrations will be announced around the world in the coming months.


Watch the Mastercard video featuring the Mastercard sound (after 1.03) and another elaborating on the Mastercard sound

To hear how a corporate melody can be adapted, watch HSBC videos featuring the HSBC sound - the Mindfulness edit, the Connected edit, the Inspiration edit, the Stadium edit, and the Orchestral edit

The Island Exchange offers business insights this March

Source: HSBC Women's World Championship. Simone Heng.
Source: HSBC Women's World Championship. Heng.
The Island Exchange is a new festival for the savvy and ambitious, debuting at Sentosa in Singapore on 2 March. 
Held alongside the HSBC Women’s World ChampionshipThe Island Exchange is a one-day event bringing together local and international speakers to share their tips and experiences on building a successful, meaningful career.

Speaker highlights include TV host and UN Environmental Goodwill Ambassador Nadya Hutagalung, and Rachel Lim, founder of Love Bonito.

Coupled with music, food, drinks and even a morning yoga session with Under Armour ambassador Denise Keller, this event aims to empower attendees to thrive and define success on their own terms.

How They Did It: Leaders Laid Bare, Class 95FM radio DJ Simone Heng commented, “The Island Exchange is a new type of business forum that’s designed to inspire the next generation.”

“Attendees will hear from founders, trailblazers and changemakers who’ll share their career journeys and findings. From thought-provoking keynotes to hands-on workshops, you’ll take away juicy insights and valuable knowledge to empower you to thrive both professionally and personally.”
Stephanie Dickson, founder of Green Is The New Black and a guest panel host added, “This fun yet purposeful event provides a platform to elevate talent who are experts in their field and are passionate about lifting up the next generation in business.”

The Island Exchange, from 8 am to 4 pm, is free for tournament ticket holders with Saturday access and includes entry to the HSBC Women’s World Championship, a S$15 food voucher plus a goodie bag and access to all six sessions on the day. A Saturday tournament ticket is priced at S$29. Capacity for The Island Exchange is limited and registration will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

There will also be a lucky draw prize for a 4D3N Bali resort stay package worth S$2,500 courtesy of official sponsor Club Med. Terms & conditions apply.

Get the agenda for The Island Exchange
Host for the panel segment

Register for The Island Exchange

Hashtag: #IslandExchange

8 February 2019

Plantronics and HP collaborate to offer Microsoft Teams videoconferencing solution

Plantronics, a unified communications technology provider, has joined forces with HP, Inc. to address growing customer demand for a high-quality Microsoft Teams videoconferencing experience in larger conference rooms.

The new solution uses the HP Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms G2 Skype Room System - Audio Ready as the controller for the Microsoft Teams video and content sharing, the Polycom Trio 8500 for sound and the Polycom EagleEye IV USB camera for video capture.

The HP Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms G2 Skype Room System - Audio Ready helps simplify meetings with stress-free setup, an intuitive interface, and includes Windows 10 Enterprise which makes running Microsoft Teams meetings even easier.

"As customers migrate to Microsoft Teams, Plantronics and HP created a simple Microsoft Teams videoconferencing experience in larger conference rooms for employees to use and IT pros to deploy and manage," said Phil Sherburne, GM, Group Systems Business Group at Plantronics.

Once the call is started, the Polycom Trio 8500 takes the ordinary conference call experience to the next level using eight directional microphones and PolycomHD Voice technology to bring high-quality audio experiences to large conference rooms. The Polycom EagleEye IV USB camera is simple to install with plug and play USB capabilities, and offers 12x optical zoom and wide pan area capabilities to follow and focus on the speaker no matter the size of the meeting space.

"Businesses are constantly looking for ways to simplify the video conference experience," said Lorena Kubera, VP Commercial Product Management at HP.

"Pairing our versatile meeting room system, HP Elite Slice G2 Audio-Ready, with the simplicity of the Polycom Trio 8500 and the EagleEye IV USB camera for the Polycom-HP SRS Bundle creates a seamless way to improve productivity and collaboration through Microsoft Teams."

David Howell, GM, Device Partner Engineering at Microsoft said, "Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing business application in Microsoft's history, and we continue to look for new ways customers can take full advantage of this powerful tool for collaboration. Combining a native Microsoft Teams solution with a high-quality videoconferencing experience makes it easier to work together, whenever you need."


This new bundle is available immediately in Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand through Ingram Micro. The bundle will be available in Japan by mid-February through Synnex Corporation, and is expected to be available in other Asia Pacific (APAC) countries soon after.

5 February 2019

Microsoft: Singapore Millennials impacted greatly by online risk

- Millennials and teenagers are the hardest-hit by online risks in Singapore, a new Microsoft study has revealed.

- The most common type of online risks faced by the Singapore respondents include sexual risks (68%); hoaxes, scams and frauds (61%); behavioural risks (54%); and unwanted content (45%).

- Many of those who have been a victim of online risks said that the perpetrators were people that they knew.

- In terms of their propensity to seek help, only slightly over half (55%) of Singapore teens said that they would reach out for help following an online risk encounter.

In observance of Safer Internet Day (5 February), new Microsoft research has revealed that Millennials (aged 18 to 34) and teenagers (aged 13 to 17) in Singapore were the hardest hit by online risks compared to other consumer groups. 

Source: Microsoft. Microsoft Digital Civility Index featuring the 22-country ranking.
Source: Microsoft. Figure 1: Microsoft Digital Civility Index featuring the 22-country ranking.

According to the 2019 Microsoft Digital Civility Study, 69% of Millennials and 66% of teenagers in Singapore have encountered at least one form of online risk – including exposure to unwanted contact; hoaxes, scams and fraud; behavioural risks and sexual risks – in their lifetime, ahead of the Generation X (59%) and Baby Boomers (48%).

The study, which placed Singapore 10th out of 22 countries for the rate of exposure to online risks, also found local teenagers to be less likely to seek help compared to others. Teenagers here faced an average of 2.6 online risks in their lifetime, with teenage girls being more vulnerable, averaging three online risks compared to the 2.2 faced by teenage boys. Millennials, on the other hand, averaged 2.5 online risks, significantly higher than the Generation X and Baby Boomers, who averaged 2.1 and 1.4 online risks respectively.

Conducted with 11,000 respondents in 22 countries, including 500 Singapore adults (aged 18 to 74) and teenagers in May 2018, the Microsoft Digital Civility Study was specifically designed to uncover insights into consumers’ lifetime exposure to a wide range of online risks, to shed light on the impact of online risks to their wellbeing, while informing them about how to stay safe and secure online.

Having yielded insights that 63% of Singapore respondents have encountered at least one form of online risk in their lifetime, lower than the global average of 66%, the study placed Singapore 10th out of 22 countries for the overall rate of exposure to online risks.

Encountering offensive content and fake news stood out as top online risks in Singapore. While the overall incidence of exposure to online risks for Singaporeans was lower than the global average, the country stood out for its rate of exposure to specific types of risks. According to the study, the most common type of online risks faced by the Singapore respondents include:

Sexual risks: Receiving unwanted sexual messages or images topped the list with 68% of the local respondents saying that they have encountered this situation before, higher than the global average of 67%.

Hoaxes, scams and frauds: Encountering fake news came in second, with 61% of local respondents saying that they have encountered this situation before, higher than the global average of 57%.

Behavioural risks: Being called offensive names came in third, with 54% of local respondents saying that they were called offensive names before, higher than the global average of 51%.

Unwanted contact: Being contacted by a stranger to collect personal information came in fourth, with 45% of local respondents saying that they encountered this situation, higher than the global average of 42%.

And while 29% of the online risks encountered by Singapore respondents came from strangers, 41% of these risks came from people that the respondents knew, including online acquaintances, casual acquaintances and co-workers. Additionally, 24% of the online risks encountered by Singapore respondents came from their own family and friends.

Overall, Singapore respondents expressed lower levels of pain from the online risks encountered. Sixty-four percent of the respondents reported mild to moderate pain, with only 15% reporting severe levels of pain from their online risk encounters.

Microsoft notes that the results show that more needs to be done to help local teenagers seek help when facing online risks. According to the research,  51% of Millennials and teenagers reported moderate to severe pain following their online risk encounters. The pain experienced can include widespread emotional, psychological as well as physical pain.

The study additionally revealed that only slightly over half (55%) of the Singapore teens would reach out for help following an online risk encounter. Thirty-two percent of Singapore teenagers who have encountered such risks would ask their parents for help, lower than the global average of 42%; while 23% would ask an adult for help, lower than the global average of 28%.

“As we continue to interact with and in the digital world, we can no longer sit back and allow these online risks to have a negative impact on our lives. Each day, we are being bombarded with unsolicited online content ranging from emails sent by unknown third parties to the circulation of fake news and unwanted sexual messages. And these represent just a fraction of the common scenarios that Singaporeans face in everyday living. 

"Today on Safer Internet Day, it’s time for us to take a stand. By participating in the Microsoft Digital Civility Challenge and committing to making the four digital civility ideals a reality, we can do our part to help a build a better and safer digital environment for everyone,“ said Richard Koh, CTO, Microsoft Singapore.
On Safer Internet Day, Microsoft is encouraging all Internet users to take part in the annual Digital Civility Challenge and practise the four digital civility ideals to create a more positive online environment for everyone:

Living the golden rule: I will act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treat everyone I connect with online with dignity and respect.

Respecting differences: I will appreciate cultural differences and honour diverse perspectives. When I disagree, I will engage thoughtfully and avoid name-calling and personal attacks.

Pausing before replying: I will pause and think before responding to things I disagree with. I will not post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage someone’s reputation, or threaten my safety or the safety of others.

Standing up for myself and others: I will tell someone if I feel unsafe, offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, report activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behaviour.

Users can also encourage their friends and family on social media to join in the challenge with the hashtags #challenge4civility or #Im4digitalcivility.