A night to remember

Unwilling to bow to the pandemic, Manulife Singapore works with its partners to take its celebratory gala online

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Safe distancing measures were enforced during the live-stream

To commemorate their top performers’ outstanding achievements, the company planned to host a gala awards dinner event in a ballroom. However, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Manulife Singapore Awards Gala Night could not proceed as originally planned.

But it was paramount for the company to celebrate and recognise their employees’ successes in spite of the challenges of the current global climate. As such, the company decided to take the event virtual instead.

“It was a memorable achievement that the company organisers, hotel and event planner were able to come together to execute a program that was as close to a face-to-face event with the safety management retraction in place, and within such short notice. The event upheld the congratulatory recognition and celebratory honour that our top performers deserve, albeit in a virtual setting,” said Gladys Tai, head of events for Manulife Singapore.

On the day of the event, delivering the experience to all the guests hinged on keeping to a tight schedule. For optimum freshness and for food safety, the four-course dinner was served to all 335 guests within a window of 1.5hrs prior to the start of the event. To present an experience as close to that of receiving their awards at a physical event, the trophies portraits, and commemorative gifts for the top performers were not pre-delivered but also scheduled to arrive at the awardees home just before the start of the event.

Coordinating the live streaming session from the office was no easy feat, but with the cooperation of the team members who strictly abided by the safe distancing measures, it all went smoothly. Management members were held in separate rooms until it was their turn to present on stage in the screening room. For the customary toasting, the management was represented by no more than five people, who were standing at least one-metre apart. Everyone donned masks at all times unless it was their turn to be on stage.

A sit down, multi-course dinner is usually provided during a gala, and this event was no different. But the difference was Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, had to recreate a four-course culinary experience – without the usual glitz and glamour of a ballroom setup – for guests to enjoy in their own homes.

There was also only a month to execute this plan, so Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, had to quickly get the two rounds of tasting with Manulife Singapore’s organisers done quickly.

The hotel also had to take extra care in ensuring the meals were prepared with the highest hygiene standards. For instance, the banquet and culinary teams had to work within the strict maximum allowance of four hours from the time food is prepared to when it is consumed.

The hotel team came together to prepare 335 meals, or 1,340 dishes that were sent to Manulife Singapore’s top performing agents and associates. As manpower was lacking, colleagues from across the hotel’s different functions also pitched in to help prep and pack the meals.

Meals were packed into individual kraft bags, labelled with stickers indicating each guest’s choice of main course and dietary requirements, and transported to the pick-up area – atypical of how each course would otherwise have been plated and served from the kitchen.

In a span of two hours, 335 meals were delivered with a fleet of 30 vehicles.

In addition to the meals, logistics also had to be worked out by Se7enFriday, the appointed events agency, for various other items to be delivered at the same time. These items included trophies, A3 canvas portraits, customised wine bottles with visuals that reflected the gala nights’ themes,

It was crucial that all deliveries arrived at guests’ homes by 18.50 to be in time for guests to log in and join their virtual awards event.

“This is a new experience for us and the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore team has made it smoother than we expected it to be with the professionalism and support that they have shown,” said Gladys Tai, head of events for Manulife Singapore.

Event Manulife Singapore Awards Gala Nights
Organiser Manulife Singapore
Dates July 24, 2020
Attendance 200 online attendees

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