It is not easy for a regularly held bi-annual event to offer participants something new and captivating every time. But the offsite event put on by logistics firm BDP Global Network Services (GNS), which spanned several days, fostered camaraderie and goodwill among its participants, binding them together through a wonderful shared memory.
The event brought together members of the company’s senior management and partners from all over the world to share industry trends and updates. At its conference, held last November in Bangkok, BDP GNS hosted a spectacular theme night in the gardens of the historic Suan Pakkad Palace, a former royal residence that has been convereted converted into a museum.
“Many of our participants travelled long distances to attend the conference, so we made sure to pick a destination that offered a lot of distinctive elements,” says Tim Frear, director of BDP GNS. “The theme dinner was one of the highlights of the four-day event and we wanted something that is uniquely local and culturally inspired, to give our guests a sense of place.”
To make the evening special, an outdoor dinner was arranged in Thailand’s first museum, which preserves and showcases antiques and heirlooms belonging to the family of Prince and Princess Chumbhot, as well as priceless prehistoric Thai artefacts. Located on Sri Ayudhya Road in the Thai capital, the compound contains eight traditional Thai-style houses which were dismantled at their original sites and re-assembled in their current address in 1952.
Holding the dinner there with the traditional houses as a backdrop gave it the feel of old Thailand. To enhance the local ambience, the grounds and the pond outside the museum were decorated with traditional Thai motifs. Long lamps made from banana tree trunks stood at the first entrance, while the BDP logo, made of orchids dyed blue, decorated a connecting bridge at the second entrance.
Some 120 delegates – 74 BDP leaders from 26 countries and 48 BDP GNS partners from 33 countries – arrived at around 6.30 pm in a convoy of coaches from the Banyan Tree hotel, where the daytime programmes were conducted.
They were ushered into the museum’s basement for pre-dinner drinks. The cocktail area looked like a Thai market with woven baskets filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Candlelight and abundant flowers made the place welcoming.
Guests were given a tour of the museum while enjoying a sip of their herbal cocktails.
“Nothing was left to chance. Everything from the table setting, lighting and entertainment was planned to adhere to a single theme,” Frear explains.
Before the dinner started a special candle ceremony took place, where each guest lit up a candle in a show of unity. Then the candles were placed on a table bearing the BDP logo, surrounded with white orchid petals.
Guests were guided to their tables while a Thai puppeteer walked the floor with his act and a beautiful local woman in traditional costume paddled a boat around the pond next to the museum.
The outdoor setting was magnificent. Guests dined under the skies amidst a tropical garden with Haw Kien House, one of the Thai-style traditional houses, as the backdrop. The multi-course dinner was a genial affair, peppered with laughter and animated conversation.
To provide spice to the evening festivities, traditional Thai dancers performed. Guests were pulled in to join in the Thai bamboo dance while Joe Louis Thai Puppetry mounted its act onstage.
The Loy Krathong ceremony was the highlight of the evening. As it was November, the time of year when the festival is commemorated, floating candle-lit krathongs (rafts) on the pond were a fitting end to the evening.
Loy Krathong is a festival that honours the goddess of the waterways and it is a local practice for Thais to send off their krathongs with their wishes for peace, health and good fortune.
The krathongs were beautifully decorated with flowers, banana leaves and incense sticks. Each delegate enthusiastically participated in the local custom.
“Beyond the beauty, history and cultural acclaim of the Suan Pakkad Palace, what added special meaning to this event was that the proceeds were donated to a local historic preservation society,” Frear says.
The Loy Krathong Night hosted by BDP GNS recently won the best theme event prize in the Thailand Creative Event Awards.
Anna Neo, BDP regional manager for marketing and events, Asia, was all praise for their local DMC for exceeding expectations.
“Our specifications were complex and quite demanding. Meeting and Convention Planner Thailand showed a unique combination of creativity and flexibility in their sheer desire to bring our event in so effectively.”
Event: BDP Global Network Forum 2009 “Loy Krathong” Night
Venue: Suan Pakkad Palace
Event organiser: Meeting and Convention Planner Thailand