Each year, McDonald’s Thailand brings together its key managers from outlets around the country with staff from the company’s Bangkok-based Restaurant Support Centre.
One of the needs for this huge corporation is to maintain the consistency of its products and services within its national operation despite the widely dispersed locations across Thailand. These outlets stretch from the busy cities to the quieter northern hill country and on to the resorts and islands that bring tourists from all over the world, already familiar with the fast-food brand in their own countries.
Ensuring staff are up to date with company information, sales techniques, promotions and new innovations is a huge challenge. The annual retreat is therefore a vital component in the company’s internal marketing and communications strategy. It also provides the chance for staff, who would normally only be in contact with each other via phone or email, to get the opportunity to meet each other face to face.
Since the group comes from various parts of the country, the event tries to rotate venue between different locations. However, there is also the issue of finding somewhere that is reasonably accessible from major airports to minimise time spent travelling.
This year, the company chose The Courtyard Hua Hin at Cha-Am Beach as the main venue for its Step Up event.
Hua Hin is a seaside resort much loved by the Thai royal family. It therefore has status in the eyes of many Thai people and has a gentler edge to its nightlife than some of Thailand’s other, more raucous, resorts.
Jirawat Taengjanegit, human resources director, McDonald’s Thailand, explains: “We normally conduct a Retreat and Annual Convention for all McDonald’s restaurant managers and assistant managers, business consultants, all operations personnel and restaurant support centre staff at least once a year.”
The company has clear business goals from the event, which are never lost sight of, although participants are also encouraged to relax with their colleagues.
“The purpose of the event is to communicate next year’s business plan, sharing business information, having workshops as well as to strengthen ‘Team to Win’ within Operations and Restaurant Support Centre and Management. A three-night stay is not too tight for our people, so they can relax, enjoy the facilities of the hotel and network during the workshop, activities and leisure time,” says Jirawat
“We have a sports day of activities for teambuilding, such as football, water polo, and so on to unite the team and have fun. We also took delegates out for a group dinner and shopping, so we just did not stay in the hotel the entire time. We also had a gala dinner with a fancy dress theme, recognition awards, dancing and fun nighttime activities.”
He says of the thinking behind the choice of destination: “We don’t want to waste time for travelling so we aimed for a destination just two or three hours from Bangkok. We have been to places such as Pattaya, Kanchanaburi and Pranburi in previous years. Hua Hin was considered to be a good location, it is not too far from Bangkok and it has good beaches and a good range of accommodation.”
The city has a number of hotels and resorts ranging from budget through to deluxe five-star brands.
Jirawat says: “We are looking for a place where our people could enjoy the facilities and services. The Courtyard hotel’s location is good and it has a private beach, big swimming pool, space for playing soccer and enough conference rooms. The hotel was just renovated last year, so the rooms were good and the facilities still new.
“Overall, the hotel facilities were good and satisfied our group. Service from the staff was good except that the celebration gala party had to finish at around 11.20pm. We were told the party could go on until midnight, but the music was too loud.”
Despite the earlier than planned finish, clearly the McDonald’s group took full advantage of the Courtyard’s services. The hotel organised two coffee breaks and lunches every day for the meetings and a buffet for the gala dinner.
The group was also taken out for dinner at a famous local restaurant and was given time to go shopping in the Hua Hin night market.
There was also an additional stop at a shopping outlet on the group’s way back to Bangkok, where the delegates headed off home, recharged and energised.
Sigrid Stelling is general manager, Courtyard By Marriott Hua Hin at Cha-am Beach
“To achieve the objectives of the meeting, extensive areas – both indoors and outdoors – for teambuilding and workshops were needed and set aside for the group. To exceed guests’ expectations, this included being very flexible in room assignments.
“Due to the high amount of meeting space needed the hotel had to hire additional well-trained staff from outside to help ensure all arrangements and tasks were carried out smoothly.
“Being flexible right throughout the programme was key to the success. Plans changed and our staff had to react immediately to overcome challenges.”