When BMW China decided to host its first ever annual general meeting outside the country, the Angsana Laguna Phuket was given less than a month to prepare. The 450-strong group of BMW executives and investors were scheduled to come from across China for five days of plenary sessions and incentives. In addition to the challenge of a short lead time, Angsana also faced accommodation concerns. The 409-room resort couldn’t provide lodging for the entire group. By working with some of the neighbouring properties, however, the hotel was able to meet BMW China’s requirements.
The event took place in March, but it was only in November the previous year that the Angsana Laguna Phuket was initially approached as a potential host for the trip. It was then that TUI China, the company charged with booking the event, arrived to inspect the facilities at the resort.
Phuket was a natural choice for the group; as a well-established beachside destination it presented planners with an impressive range of incentive activities. Similarly, when considering the travel arrangements for 450 of the prestigious car manufacturer’s executives and investors, the availability of direct flights from across China also meant Phuket was logistically appealing.
Of course, Phuket’s many attributes are hardly revelations. The island has gained long-standing popularity among business events planners for being accessible, established and, of course, beautiful. Indeed, Laguna Phuket is one of the most versatile destinations in the region. The complex offers planners a choice of seven different hotels, including Dusit Thani, Banyan Tree and Outrigger.
BMW China hoped to stay for five nights and planned to have an itinerary that included a day-long planning session for all attendees, plus a number of workshops for smaller groups. In addition, the planners wanted to work in a number of incentive activities including a welcome meal and a farewell banquet.
The Angsana resort was the primary choice for the planners. Six F&B outlets, nine meeting rooms and a 358 sqm ballroom complement the hotel’s 409 rooms.
Mirel Kostons, assistant director of sales and events at Angsana Laguna Phuket says: “Arranging the accommodation with such short notice was our biggest challenge. Even though it looked like we were going to be the host, it wasn’t confirmed in writing until less than one month before the event.”
The short notice meant that, although the Angsana resort could act as a hub for the meeting and incentive activities, there were only 200 rooms available for the BMW delegates. The group therefore had to be spread across neighbouring venues. Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket welcomed many of the delegates, while the VIPs were accommodated at Banyan Tree Phuket.
In addition to accommodation, language was also a potential problem. Kostons says: “Most of the guests spoke very little English. We knew this in advance and, although we run regular language classes for our staff, we made sure that our Mandarin-speaking management trainees were on the front line to handle any issues.”
Outside of business meetings, over the five days the group took part in Thai cooking classes, an island tour of Phuket and golfing activities. The biggest events for the hotel were the gala dinners – one on the welcoming night and the other held as a farewell.
Kostons says: “The welcome dinner was held in marquees at the Xana club on our private beach. We were very lucky with the weather. Just in case, though, the marquees could be used as shelters in the event of rain and all the tables could be brought under cover if a storm blew in.”
The second banquet took place offsite at the nearby Laguna Golf Club and presented the Angsana team with potential difficulties due to its size, location and the client’s requirements.
“Usually for an event with over 400 people, we’d have a buffet. BMW China wanted a sit-down meal so with such a large number of guests eating at the same time, we decided to host the dinner in a marquee on the golf course. This was another first for us, because we’d never used the golf club like that before. We actually used some of the club’s features to our advantage and before dinner the guest could mingle and take part in some activities. We transformed the course’s lagoon into a floating Thai market, for instance. We also had performances and snacks available at different places around the course. The whole evening was really incredible,” Kostons elaborates.
As one might expect from BMW China, the brief was very detail-oriented and Angsana was required to meet with the car manufacturer’s exacting standards to pull off a successful event. “We had everything from the menus to the napkins all tailor-made for BMW to include their branding. Eventage, one of our regular suppliers, was able to make that happen for us very quickly and professionally.”
Despite the challenges faced, the BMW China AGM was a success. The client reported that both the service and food were remarkable but gave particular praise to the hotel’s level of communication through the event. It was cooperation, though, that enabled Angsana to deliver, despite the constraints.
Kostons says: “This event gave us the opportunity to cooperate and the experience was very important. Now, we know that we can work together to bring in larger groups in the future.”