Dubai: Case Study - Numico creates the stuff of legend

The baby food firm's award-winning meeting had a few hitches en route, as Kerry Baggott reports.

Numico, the specialist baby food and clinical nutrition company, sees itself as a forward-thinking and dynamic company, which is why Dubai, with its progressive and can-do attitude, was chosen to host the 2005 annual conference.

"Dubai is undergoing an explosion of growth and innovation and that's the sort of image that we aspire to," says Numico director of central supply chain Rhiannon Davis.

The Madinat Jumeirah hosted the group, made up of 180 senior managers, mainly from Europe, over four days in April.

"With three hotels in the complex it offers a full range of accommodation styles and you'd be hard pushed to beat the conference facilities," says Catherine Turner, senior producer at MJM, the agency that organised the event alongside Enterprise IG. "The hotel also has a real novelty factor because guests travel around the property in abras (boats) along the waterways."

Under the title 'Creating a Legend', each of the four days of the event adopted a different theme to reflect different legendary civilisations.

Egypt, reflecting supremacy and the building blocks of empire, was chosen to set the scene for the first day, while delegates were whizzed to the Land of the Aztecs the next, to reflect on the sun calendar and the fact that all the sun gods worked as a team. Arthurian England was the theme for day three, and day four culminated with the Olympic achievements of Greece. The strengths of each of these civilisations were linked throughout to reflect Numico's brand values.

As soon as each day's session finished, work began on building the sets for the next using a production crew of around 150 people. "The local suppliers and the hotel worked really hard," says Turner. "However, we did have to contend with a few cultural issues throughout the programme."

Wanting to drink alcohol outside of the hotels and partying until 3am each morning did not go down well with the authorities, while bands and dancers had to be approved by the government for their suitability.

"There is a lot of red tape to contend with and you need approval for everything, especially if it is something that is a new idea," says Turner.

The first stumbling block occurred at the airport when custom officers confiscated the video tapes for the shows and threatened to keep them for four weeks. "You need a good DMC," says Davis. "SNTTA knew exactly who to contact to get them back."

Enterprise IG's account director Christina Stuppell also adds a word of warning: "Because of the power that the Sheikh has, it's always in the back of your mind that he can pull the plug on arrangements at any time. So you're always holding your breath," she says.

However, despite these challenges and the huge production involved, this event was one of Numico's best.

"Numico is a fun-loving company that is fast-moving and dynamic," says Davis. "Dubai, the hotel and the programme reflected this vibrant ethos while also conveying the vision and forward planning of the company."

As if to prove its success, the event took the silver in the Best Conference Event category in C&IT's sister title's Event Awards.

FACTFILE Company: Numico Event: Annual conference Agencies: MJM and Enterprise IG DMC SNTTA Dates: 10-15 April Venue: Madinat Jumeirah Group size: 180 managers Budget: 1m euros +

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