Malaysia does not get the chance to host many global sporting events, however the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix is one notable exception, and has been incredibly successful in recent years.
The Malaysian government built the Formula One racing circuit at Sepang – just outside Kuala Lumpur – specifically to host the F1 race, and it has proven a winning decision. Sepang now acts as home to other global racing tours, including one round of the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix races.
As with most major sporting events, the activities and entertainment that support the main event-not the least of which is the corporate hospitality aspect for major sponsors and participants of Formula One’s billion-dollar industry-must meet the demanding and discerning tastes of key players involved.
Every round of the Formula One races-all set in different countries-has a significant amount of off-track action, each host country competing to out-do the others.This year was no exception in Kuala Lumpur when Malaysia hosted the second round of the Formula One World Championship.
On the Friday before the race, it was important for Sepang International Circuit and Malaysia to set the scene for a weekend of fast action and top-shelf corporate entertainment.
Sepang International Circuit hired All Sports Services to orchestrate another world-class evening event to wow the regional and international sporting and corporate figures who would travel to Malaysia specifically for the race.
Among the Formula One elite present at the gala dinner were Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, Ferrari chief executive officer Jean Todt, Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella, Team McLaren’s Peter Stayner, Toro Rosso drivers Vitantonio Liuzzi and Scott Speed as well as team owners Franz Tost (Toro Rosso), Dr Mario Thyssen (Sauber BMW) and former Petronas Sauber owners Peter and Christina Sauber.
It was the second time the event was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre). Prior to this venue change the welcoming event had been held at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.
The party of the year All Sports was asked to organize focused on two components: one was a high-society gala dinner; the second was a concert to be held indoors at the Centre.
“The [Centre] proved an unsurprising venue choice in light of its catering facilities and expertise, [and the fact that it is] set amid the stunning backdrop of the iconic Petronas Twin Towers in the capital,” says All Sports director, Hafez Mohamed.
An estimated 650 people attended the gala dinner, during which a 10-course, gourmet meal was served. Some 3,500 people attended the concert later in the evening.
In the spirit of the “Fantasy” theme, the Centre’s Grand Ballroom was transformed into a sparkling, candle-lit, expanse of black, blue, grey and silver, complete with decorations of the mythical Pegasus.
Expectations for the night’s entertainment were set high, given that in 2006 All Sports was able to coordinate a performance by Lionel Richie. This year they orchestrated an illusionist, and a concert by multiple Grammy and American Award-winning music group Earth, Wind and Fire.
The concert was held in Exhibition Halls 1 and 2, where a massive, two-tier VIP Lounge was erected, complete with an unlimited bar service that was restricted to gala dinner guests.
All proceeds from the tickets, including those from an auction conducted by Christie’s of London, were donated to the Yayasan Tuanku Nur Zahirah charity headed by Malaysia’s Queen Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah, which provides assistance to under-privileged communities in Terengganu, the home state of the country’s current king.
While there were a number of challenges to overcome during the event once guests had arrived, the evening ran seamlessly.
“The main challenge was to sell tables priced from US$10,000 to US$60,000 and to raise as much as possible from the charity auction,” Mohamed says.
“Another challenge was to do something different and to [make improvements on] previous gala dinners in terms of décor and entertainment in view of the number of repeat patrons.”
All Sports also had to ensure it maintained a close working relationship with the police and security specialists, due to the number of senior level of guests attending.
“From visiting royalty and ministers to celebrities, the Centre prides itself on being prepared for anything, but just as vigorously, we work to ensure nothing happens,” says Centre general manager Peter Brokenshire.
“And with more than 250 CCTVs surrounding the centre, we endeavour to ensure our presence is preventative and never intrusive.”
KLIA handles flights for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and all other international airlines. From the airport, take the direct KLIA Ekspres train to Kuala Lumpur in approximately 28 minutes. Air Asia now uses the newly built Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCC-T) in Sepang and has direct bus service from LCC-T to KL Sentral transport hub.
Kuala Lumpur is blessed with sunny but humid weather almost year-round, making it less of a hassle to travel there, if you can handle the heat. From April to September, look out for irregular rainfall!
Kuala Lumpur, like the other Malaysian states, claim Bahasa Malaysia as its national language. However, English is ubiquitous and conversing with majority of the locals is not a problem. In addition, its languages of business and administration include Mandarin, Cantonese and Tamil.
Most countries and territories (like Hong Kong) do not require visas for social or business visits if staying for less than two months. For more information, visit www.imi.gov.my
Visit tourism.gov.my or call the Malaysian Tourism Board (KL HQ) at +603 2615 8188.
F1 Fantasy at KLCC
Miss World 2000 Priyanka Chopra, a leading Bollywood film star, was among the 600 crème of the society crop to grace the PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix Fantasy Gala 2007 held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
The “Fantasy” evening created as a prelude to the 2007 Malaysian Grand Prix, was indeed a high-class affair that catered to a discriminating audience well-accustomed to black-tie events.
The gala dinner and the concert went off without a hitch and won a big thumbs-up from guests like the F1 racing elite and global celebrities, as well as the client, Sepang International Circuit (SIC).
Dato’ Mokhzani Mahathir, chairman of SIC, says he was more than pleased with the way the event went as it was such a crucial element of the Grand Prix weekend. “It was well done and we have received good feedback from everyone.
“We have also received feedback from the Palace informing us that the king and queen thoroughly enjoyed themselves at both events. A number of guests also complimented us on the innovative VIP Lounge concept (for the concert) as this created a classy and exclusive environment.”
All Sports was contracted in December 2006 to coordinate the 7 April 2007 gala event. As a result of their success, All Sports is confident in winning the bid to manage the event next year.
Mohamed says working on the event for the second year with SIC and the Centre was beneficial. He notes that there was a much better understanding of what the client wanted and what All Sports needed to achieve in terms of the overall goals, the agenda for the evening and the best way to do that without difficulties. He was very pleased with the final results.
“After staging the Malaysian Grand Prix gala evening for two consecutive years, it [is] evident that cooperation and co-ordination has improved. This made planning and implementation a lot easier and smoother.”
The Centre general manager Peter Brokenshire said the centre has worked closely with All Sports to ensure all elements of the evening were a success and was able to provide the organisers with two full days of on-site access to set up the ballroom for the dinner and the two main halls for the concert.
“The Malaysian Grand Prix Fantasy evening proved again to be another magnificent event,” Brokenshire says.
“Our clients’ success is our success. For this reason, we constantly endeavour to exceed expectations to ensure the delivery of products and services that are on par with the best of our counterparts around the world, so we can keep the business and our client base, growing.”
He adds: “It is always a pleasure to play host venue to such prestigious events and we certainly look forward to our next collaboration.”
The PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix Fantasy Gala 2007
Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
All Sports Service
650 for Gala Dinner & 3500 for post-Gala Concert
6 April 2007