Hosting a gala dinner for more than 3,000 guests is no mean feat, so when Perfect China came to Melbourne for its 2017 incentive programme in June, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) took it on with full gusto.
Perfect China required a very specific floor plan and table configuration for its 3,300 banquet guests, along with a sizeable stage for an entertainment showcase.
The MCEC team worked closely with creative production agency, Triumph Leisure Solutions (TLS), to achieve the client’s event objectives.
Managing the swift arrival and departure of so many guests was a challenge. MCEC’s logistics team coordinated and planned for the arrival of more than 50 buses. The team managed the traffic and flow of attendees by dividing the group in two — buses dropped off and picked up half the attendees from the centre’s loading dock, while the remaining attendees entered and departed on foot via the centre’s main Clarendon Street entrance.
Due to the stage location, there was limited back-of-house space for entertainers and performers. MCEC worked closely with TLS to find suitable dressing rooms and created custom routes for performers to take to the stage—giving guests the element of surprise when the extravaganza blasted onto the stage.
A pre-dinner cocktail event proved another logistical feat—serving canapés and drinks to 3,300 guests in 30 minutes—and, as per the client’s request, without setting up any equipment or infrastructure in the space.
To tackle this, the exhibition concourse was closed to the public and pre-function space split the exhibition concourse and bay, allowing for bars and buffets to be set-up on the concourse, while food and drink was served on trays inside the bay.
MCEC’s chefs also created an entirely customised Chinese menu (to the client’s exacting standards and budget) and held a comprehensive menu tasting for the client to select options for the three-course meal, including vegetarian and halal entrées. Chefs even sourced a specific chilli sauce to ensure guests would have their favourite condiment to accompany the meal.
Two kitchens were also constructed on either side of the gala dinner space; ensuring more than 9,600 plated meals were served in the 90-minute timeframe—the fastest in MCEC’s dinner history.
To overcome language barriers, MCEC’s team provided the client with images of all food items and table settings during planning and, on the day of the event, there was customised Mandarin signage and a Putonghua speaking MCEC employee was allocated to all VIP tables in order to accommodate special requests.
TLS managing director, Blake Harris, who has also managed events involving huge numbers of people for Amway and NuSkin, says: "Planning large incentive events can be challenging because of the sheer scale and numbers.
Moving guests efficiently and ensuring meals can be served while an extensive programme of live entertainment is delivered requires experience and careful planning. Fortunately, we had a great event partner in MCEC."
Who: Perfect China
Type of event: Incentive programme
Venue: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Agency: Triumph Leisure Solutions
Date: June 2017
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