The clock was ticking. With less than four months’ notice to stage one of Australia’s largest one-night corporate functions, John Hudson, managing director of Millbank Marketing, and his team knew they would have to rise to the occasion.
The brief was an event organiser’s dream but one which without the right approach, could easily turn into a nightmare: to bring in 2,700 people from all over Australia and New Zealand for a one-night party and make sure it put a smile on the face of every guest as well as the CEO of the organisation.
The first challenge for Hudson was that lead-time of four months. To make a start, the issues of format, venue, accommodation, transport, awards and celebration content had to be addressed. In the early stages of planning, the brief was still unfolding. To account for numbers, Hudson also needed to know if partners were to be included or not.
Once it was announced that they were, he started the process of selecting a venue capable of seating up to 3,000 banquet-style. It also had to accommodate stages, dancing and pre-function drinks. That set of criteria narrowed the options somewhat.
With guests arriving from all over Australia, Siemens further decided to provide five-star accommodation for everyone, even if they lived in the same city as the event. This called for 1,500 hotel rooms within reasonable distance of the chosen venue.
Scheduled for a Saturday night during school term, the event posed another consideration that needed to be addressed – access. Almost 200 guests had to be flown in from all over Australia and parts of New Zealand.
While a trip to Sydney for no other purpose than to have a huge party would be a fantastic reward in itself, reality needed to be taken into consideration. Hudson was mindful of everyone’s usual weekend commitments and wanted to minimise any inconvenience by having them back home at a reasonable hour on Sunday.
In addition, to serve as the core reason for the event, the award ceremonies had to be quite remarkable. The contributions of hundreds of staff members were to be individually recognised and, of course, that recognition had to sparkle and not be boring to the audience.
As with any event, what is viewed from the audience seats is a fun, colourful and entertaining night.
What’s viewed from the organiser’s chair is the culmination of months of planning, inspections, meetings, checking and re-checking.
According to Libby Rolls, Millbank’s project manager for the event, planning is the most vital element in a successful function.
“The Millbank team developed a comprehensive set of planning and budgeting templates. We devised techniques and check-lists and we worked with experts such as Solution Red, Immediacy and the theatrical producer Neill Gladwin to keep things well under control,” said Rolls from her Melbourne office.
Hudson explained his decision to select Sydney as the destination and the SuperDome at Olympic Park as the venue.
“We chose Sydney as it satisfied several criteria. It’s an impressive city, had the access capabilities, accommodation and venues that were logistically viable. We needed a venue with an impressive presence, adequate space, and which was within a reasonable distance to the accommodation and logistical resources.
“The venue also had to have expert management so we chose the SuperDome at Sydney Olympic Park. It’s an iconic Sydney landmark and, while most of the guests would probably have been to other Sydney venues and locations at some time, many would not yet have experienced the facilities of Homebush.”
From the moment the guests arrived in Sydney, they all received a generous dose of “wow” factor. All guests were accommodated in one of seven high-profile city hotels.
Accommodation was arranged at the Sydney Hilton, Four Points by Sheraton, Four Seasons, Sydney Marriott, Sydney Harbour Marriott, Rydges Jamieson and the Shangri-La, all selected for their service level and proximity to town and the venue.
While most guests stayed at the Hilton, it was important that those in the other properties were just as much a part of the weekend event. Sarah Hulett from Millbank explains: “We had to ensure those staying at the other properties all arrived at the venue at around the same time. We used Murray’s for coach transport and they did an excellent job. Our logistics team juggled with airport/hotel and hotel/venue transfers with over 60 coaches, and – thank heavens – no one was kept waiting. It went like clockwork.”
Planning is vital and will ensure the smooth running of any event; however, the guests want to see the show. For wow factor, the entertainment was provided by Australia’s arguably hottest act, boy-band Human Nature, with further entertainment either side of their show.
But that was just at the main event. As the guests milled in the hotel lobbies, Sydney’s best entertainers kept them amused as they boarded their buses and the traffic stopped for them in George Street. Arriving at the SuperDome, they were met and ushered in by more entertainers as they alighted.
And the fun went on. The awards were delivered in a showbiz manner so that everyone was kept in high spirits. The entertainment and music lasted all night.
What the client said:
Catherine Woon is the sponsorship and events adviser for Siemens in Australia.
“There were two conditions our CEO had about this event,” she says. “He wanted to include partners and it had to occur within four months. With a challenge like that, it was critical to bring in an experienced organisation which works at the top end of the incentives market. It was a seamless event from start to finish. Problem solving, strategic planning, quality offerings and lots of shows! The talented team delivered an event our staff will never forget. Every aspect was thoughtfully planned and professionally executed.”
AT A GLANCE
Main entertainment: Human Nature
Supplementary entertainment at most accommodation venues
Total room count: 1,556
Number of coaches: 62
Room drops: Yes
Full-time Millbank staff: 10
Casual Millbank staff : 60