Event: UK managing director's dinner
Group: size 50
Agency: MCI Belfast
DMC: Ovation International
Date: 22 August 2007
Venues: SS Nomadic, Queen's Quay, Belfast
The brief: Diageo's UK managing director wanted a one-day conference with local staff, followed by a private dinner for key staff, featuring an incentive element. "We'd done hotels and restaurants, so we were looking for something different," says Diageo supply administrator Liz Dunlop.
MCI Belfast business development manager Ross Licence came up with an idea: to use the SS Nomadic, the tender that transferred first-class passengers out to the Titanic for its maiden voyage. "I thought it would both an unusual venue and a great way to reflect the maritime heritage of Belfast as the place where Titanic was built," he explains. "We even came up with the idea of recreating an old Titanic menu from 1912 - but with a modern twist."
Challenges: Catering was the main challenge as there were no on-board facilities and, given the small gangway access, it wasn't possible to bring a mobile kitchen on board the Nomadic.
Solution: MCI Belfast hired a mobile catering unit and parked it behind the ship. Each course was brought on board when it was ready. "This was the first corporate dinner on board since the vessel returned to Belfast from France," explains Ross. "And it was the first event we had done for Diageo as a new client, so we were out to impress."
Execution: Delegates were collected from their hotel at 7pm for a coach visit to the city's Titanic Quarter as a build up to the on-board dinner. They were greeted at 8pm with a drinks reception on the upper deck featuring Guinness, champagne and canapes. The group was then split into and led on guided tours by expert guides around the White Star Line exhibition. At 9pm they moved downstairs for a three-course gourmet dinner - a smoked salmon starter, roast sirloin of beef and a Baileys cheesecake.
"The latter was the modern twist to reflect the brand," says Ross. At midnight, delegates were escorted from the boat and back on to coaches to their hotel.
Verdict: The feedback from the client was universally positive, and delegates loved the sense of living history. "Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the event. Our staff got to experience a hint of the Titanic experience while maintaining a relaxed atmosphere," says Diageo operations manager Colman Hanna.
Licence adds: "This event paved the way for Nomadic to be used as a private dining venue. It proved so popular that we now have other clients asking us to do similar events for them."