A year before Amway China held its month-long leadership seminar in Thailand’s most popular beach destination, Phakwiphoo Tanpradit of Laguna Phuket flew to Australia to watch and observe as the same event took place in Sydney.
“We inspected the event in Sydney and saw how things were organised,” says Tanpradit, project manager of the Amway Group event at Laguna Phuket. At that time, she was still connected with sister company Laguna Tours. However, when the preparation work entered its active phase last September, Tanpradit was transferred to Laguna Phuket to work on the Amway China project full-time – approximately nine months before the event.
As the head of operations for the project, Tanpradit was the single point of contact for Amway China’s events team, as well as the main person coordinating with the various business units of the hotels within the Laguna Phuket complex to ensure key milestones in the timeline were executed.
The Amway China event is the largest that Laguna Phuket has handled to date and is also the largest corporate gathering to be hosted on the island. Held between April 15 and May 15, 15,000 Amway China representatives flew to the island in seven waves on both regular and chartered flights from 32 provinces in the mainland. They participated in a five-day, four-night programme, which included business meetings at Laguna Phuket, as well as offsite activities such as a day cruise to nearby islands, a trip to Phang Nga Bay – renowned for being a location in the James Bond film Man with the Golden Gun – and a freewheeling evening in the markets of Patong.
According to Robin Wilson, director of marketing, communications and events at Laguna Phuket, about 1,800 Amway China delegates were at the Laguna resort complex at any given time, with 600 new arrivals daily. They were billeted at Angsana Laguna Phuket, Dusit Thani and Laguna Beach Resort. The direct selling company’s VIP guests and officials stayed at Banyan Tree Phuket, the resort’s flagship property.
The Amway Group had virtually an exclusive run of the whole complex. All-day free fresh coconut drink stations and souvenir stalls were located inside the hotels, in-room materials were translated into Chinese and the room service menu was customised to the dietary requirements of the delegates. It was quite a challenge for the hotels’ F&B outlets to feed the entire group breakfast, lunch and dinner at times that fit in with the programmes being held within the complex.
A keen eye was cast on logistics, and police assistance was sought to avoid the group being snagged in traffic when moving from one venue to another, particularly outside the resort. Police escorts were also secured on a few occasions. “The challenge was moving the people,” says Tanpradit. “We had 70 buses that ferried the group around the island, and we had another 20 shuttle buses to bring them to and from different hotels within Laguna Phuket for their meetings and training classes.”
Two dinner receptions were held at Laguna Phuket as part of the programme: one was the welcome dinner on the first night, hosted at each respective hotel where a particular batch of delegates was staying; the other was “China Night” on the second evening, held at Laguna Grove, an outdoor venue overlooking the lagoon.
China Night was a key highlight of the programme. It is a tradition of the annual event that its gala dinner is themed around the destination of the following year’s Amway China leadership seminar. As Taipei will host the 2013 event, the gala dinner was dubbed “China Night”.
Laguna Grove has been used to stage marathon events but it has never been the site of a gala dinner. Tanpradit recalls: “The client made a thorough site inspection of possible venues within the complex. Laguna Grove [was chosen], because it has a stunning view of the sunset, which provided an ideal backdrop for the special visual effects used at the start of the gala dinner programme.”
A huge see-through marquee was built on the site with the stage and dance floor placed at waters’ edge so that the lagoon served as a natural backdrop. It took a month to secure the various licences needed to stage the event – from the fireworks permit to the A/V system licence.
Three buffet tables served a range of Taiwanese dishes. Laguna Phuket flew in chefs from Banyan Tree Tianjin Riverside to put together the gala dinner menu, in order to get an authentic taste of this Chinese cuisine. It took two weeks for the menu list to be finalised.
Entertainment for the evening was imported from Taiwan and featured an eclectic mix of performances. There were acrobats on jet skis, a digital light dragon projected over a water screen and fireworks. On stage, a number of performers – from a violin quartet to a group of cultural dancers – put on a lively show. The last act of the evening was a top Shanghai-based singer who had the delegates on their feet and onto the dance floor.
China Night was staged 21 times in total, and the Laguna Phuket frontline staff serving at the event told Mix that things began to fall into a rhythm after hosting the gala dinner a few times. “As the work became an ingrained process, it became easier by the day but the challenge was to remain on our toes and not to let things slide,” they said.
For Tanpradit, there have been two key lessons to be learned from the China Amway event. “Communication and teamwork are very important in ensuring that huge events like this one run smoothly.”
Event Amway China Leadership Seminar’s “China Night” gala dinner
Venue Laguna Grove, Laguna Phuket
Date April 15 to May 15, 2012
Number of participants 15,000
Organisers Amway China, Laguna Phuket