Keen coordination, communication

Experience pays off for PEACH when four gala dinners for 12,000 guests altogether land on the venue’s lap.

Infinitus China gala dinner

Event brief
Infinitus (China) Company, which manufactures and distributes skincare, healthcare, and beauty care products, wanted to award more than 12,000 of its employees with a free trip to Thailand, where they visited Bangkok and Pattaya. In a show of hospitality, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau hosted four welcome gala dinners on May 16, 18, 23 and 28 for the group at Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Centre (PEACH), each for 3,000 delegates.

The team at PEACH was informed of the event on February 2016, while the gala dinners were due to take place just three months later in May.

Infinitus China gala dinner

Challenges
The four gala dinners presented various operational challenges to the PEACH team due to the sheer number of attendees and the fact that every dinner required four different menus to cater to the different guest segments – VIPs, company delegates, vegetarians and Muslims.

Maria Gequillana, PEACH spokesperson, said: “Because of this, we had to provide a large quantity of food while meeting each different requirement.”

A wide range of menu choices that satisfied the dietary considerations of the attendees was given to the client ahead of time, but confirmation arrived late and along with that came a string of “intricate special requests that made things a little difficult for our team”.

On event days, the F&B team also had to ensure food quality was not compromised while some dishes were prepared in advance.

Another major challenge was the need for traffic control “to ensure the smooth arrival and departure of such a large number of people”, said Gequillana, who added that the 3,000-strong group arrived in more than 100 buses within an hour for every night of the gala dinner.

Also, manpower was stretched – first, during dinner setup, especially for the first and second dinners which were held just two days apart; second, during food service when 100 staff must serve 12 dishes within 45 minutes. As well, the first dish – a seafood boat – must be served in a synchronised parade.

Solutions
Despite challenges in menu planning and execution, PEACH overcame them through its experienced F&B team that is used to handling large-scale events and is focused on processes, cleanliness and food quality.

Gequillana shared that Royal Cliff Hotels Group – which PEACH is part of – is certified with the prestigious Food Safety Management certificate, issued in conjunction with the ISO 22000 accredited by the British Standard Institute.

To bring the crowd under control, Gequillana said several meetings were held beforehand with Pattaya Traffic Bureau to ensure a smooth traffic to and from PEACH, as well as between the various internal departments and the event organiser to address potential issues.

“A traffic control/management system was provided by our security department where all staff involved were made to learn and understand how to direct traffic and efficiently lead attendees to and from the venue,” Gequillana told TTGmice.

Other measures on site included programming all escalators to run towards the dinner hall at arrival and away from it at the end of the event; placing security officers at escalators to prevent overcrowding; and creating entrances and exits that are small enough for just one person to pass through to create an organised queue.

To address manpower challenges, PEACH activated its Dream Team, a team comprising staff from different departments who will help with the setup of major events.
“This extra manpower helped us finish this rapid turnover successfully in such a short period of time,” remarked Gequillana.

To ensure a seamless food service on the four big days, all staff involved had to undergo rehearsals to be familiar with the process and timings, and attend debriefings at the end of every dinner.

Key takeaways
“(This project taught us) the importance of being prepared by identifying and assessing potential issues that might occur beforehand, which allowed us to create contingency plans,” said Gequillana.

“Being prepared also involved (having) our entire team understand their specific roles and responsibilities during the event’s execution.”

“Another lesson (for us) was (the need to) discuss details with the organisers beforehand so that our team clearly understands what needs to be delivered,” she added.

Event: Infinitus China gala dinner
Client: Infinitus China
Venue: Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall
Date: May 16, 18, 23 and 28, 2016
Number of participants: 12,000, split into four groups

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