Director of sales & marketing, Dennis Kam, shows how
Le MÃ©ridien Angkor pulls out all the stops to play host to
the massive 1,000-pax strong UNWTO/UNESCO conference
The inaugural UNWTO/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture was due to take place in early February, which meant that Le MÃ©ridien Angkor had about seven months to make preparations when it signed on to host the event back in August 2014. One thousand delegates attended, including ministers and vice ministers of tourism, speakers and guests from 100 countries.
We had to postpone other meetings that were booked earlier because priority had to be given to the conference, which was the largest and most high profile ever hosted in Siem Reap.
Space also posed an issue. There was also no readily available venue huge enough that could play host to such a large group of people. Moreover, our kitchen was not large enough to cook all the food required, particularly because there was a lunch hosted by the Korea National Tourism Organisation (KNTO) and they had flown in a culinary team of eight chefs to prepare the banquet. The China National Tourism Administration also hosted a dinner and brought their own chefs.
In addition, our banquet team did not have enough manpower for an event of such a scale.
In order not to lose any goodwill among our customers as a result of the inconvenience, we offered value adds to those who chose to postpone their events or agreed to shift to a different venue. We also worked with local tour operators to help the latter group locate alternative venue to make the process as seamless as possible for them.
We tackled the space issue by cooperating with the local tourism authority and relevant ministries to construct an air-conditioned marquee on our grounds to comfortably accommodate the delegates. We also set up a mobile kitchen where the guest chefs could work.
The manpower shortage was solved by getting every member of our staff, including our finance and housekeeping teams, to double up as banquet staff. We also hired 50 to 60 casual staff from the local hospitality school to bolster our numbers. We have an ongoing relationship with the school, where we would employ the students on a casual basis whenever we needed more manpower. Hence, they were familiar with the service standards that were expected of them and all we needed was a â€˜dry runâ€™ about a week before the event.
The success of the event gave us the confidence to bid for bigger and more high profile events because we now know that we can pull it off.
We also realised more than ever that we have to work closely together with industry stakeholders to raise Siem Reapâ€™s reputation as a choice MICE destination.
Cross-cultural exchanges happened all around â€“ our kitchen teams learnt how to prepare Korean dishes from the guest chefs, who in turn acquired a few tips on Cambodian cuisine.