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Cotai stages spec for tech
IBM gathers more than 1,200 delegates at the Sheraton Macao for the IBM Analytics Sales Academy 2015, featuring musician-turned-motivator Freddie Ravel. Marisa Cannon reports

7 Dec 2015

Winning Pitch

IBM chose Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central to host a four-day event for IBM Analytics Sales, Technical Sales and its business partners to develop and improve their industry knowledge and consultative selling skills. A total of 1,202 delegates from Asia Pacific, Greater China, the Middle East, Africa and Japan attended the event from August 4-7.

“We went through a competitive bidding process, and Sheraton Macao won from a fiscal and a logistics perspective,” said IBM global enablement executive Terry Bird. “We chose Macau because there are only a small number of locations that could actually handle the size of our audience and the complexity of getting 1,200 people into the main tent and then 30-40 people in meetings of different configurations – some round tables, some classroom based. That really narrows down the number of locations that can handle that, and Macau really met our needs.”

Highlights

The event kicked off on the evening of August 4 with a welcome reception at Sheraton Macao’s outdoor Tiki Pool. Event organiser Terry Bird, took charge of “DJ” responsibilities for the evening, curating a set of up-tempo songs designed to energise guests before the next few days of serious meetings.   

Across the next few days, 1,202 delegates attended theatre-style sessions in the hotel’s 4,890 square metre Kashgar Ballroom. Technology breakout sessions were also held throughout the four days in more intimate meeting spaces located on the hotel’s fifth floor. 

IBM formed a new Analytics unit in 2015, and chose to host a dedicated event that engaged with the division’s challenges. “Rather than holding a product-focused event, we chose to turn the event on its head and focus on business problems. We met to find solutions to resolve problems and have a conversation around how we should engage with clients in a much more productive way,” said Bird. IBM partnered with Gather Digital to design a mobile app for the event so delegates could access agenda information, maps and live polling, and receive instant feedback from their mobiles. 

Nathan Nyvall, another organiser from IBM, said: “Technology is key for us, and the wifi at Sheraton Macao made it possible for our apps to function very well. The wifi both in my hotel room and on the conference floor was exceptionally strong, which made the app work well.”

The Upshot

“Our reception at the Tiki Pool was a night everyone will remember,” said Bird. Located on the 8th floor of Sheraton Macao with a view overlooking the Cotai Strip, the Tiki Pool party set the scene for the event to follow. On the final day of the event, IBM invited 90s pop sensation-turned-motivational speaker Freddie Ravel to talk about the way that music plays a role in leadership and how to “listen” through the clutter of data. Bird said that closing the event on a musical note helped tie things up in a way that resounded with everyone.  

“The overriding thought was music would really work with different cultures, especially in Macau where we had people from the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and South Africa. Music is universal and Freddie worked very hard to tailor the messages to IBM’s core values, and we could see that the audience really enjoyed that. We were a bit concerned with the audience here [in Macau], as we thought people might be a bit restrained, but we were pleased to see that the engagement was really good.”

The Sheraton Macao is Macau’s largest hotel with more than 4,000 rooms. Its size was pivotal to IBM’s decision, said Nyvall, another organiser from IBM. “The Sheraton Macao is big enough to accommodate our group of 1,200 people, and the meeting space is nicely laid out and compact enough so that it is very easy to find the rooms. The digital signage was also a great way to help us navigate our way around the property.” 


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