THE BRIEF Solidworks is a software publisher with a focus on engineering packages. To increase effectiveness of its annual product launches, the firm holds a conference for its resellers to brief them on new products and update them on future plans. Marketing communications executive Heather Roberts, says that because the market is so competitive, it's vital that resellers are on board with products from the start, which means showcasing them in their best light at an event that is both educational and entertaining.
CHALLENGES To help achieve this blend, Roberts considered overseas venues for the first time. Spain's Portaventura theme park resort, an hour south of Barcelona by car was chosen. Roberts describes herself as "very hands on" and, without the involvement of an agency or DMC, the overseas element meant clear communication with Portaventura's in-house team was essential. One job they had to get right in particular was the AV, which included procuring two specialist projectors Solidworks needed for its showcase.
SOLUTION In terms of language and logistics, Roberts found herself in capable hands. Portaventura's UK account manager, Paul Black is a fluent Spanish speaker. "I put together a concise brief, but I had to hand a lot of work over to the technical team and I was very impressed with the results," says Roberts. This included finding some of the AV kit, which Black says was accomplished after some serious head scratching. "There are only four of the high definition projectors in Spain, but the team managed to secure two of them for the event," he says.
EXECUTION Delegates arrived throughout the day on the Thursday and were free to use all the resort's facilities. The welcome drinks reception was held at 9pm at the Salsa Cafe, with canapes served and the group free to relax and network.
Friday was the main conference day and started early with breakfast in the Bohio restaurant at 6.30am, followed by the opening conference session in the resort's Habana Convention Centre. Sessions then continued throughout the day, broken by lunch and coffee breaks. The conference ended at 5.15pm and the delegates were then divided into groups for team-building exercises in the theme park. Staff from different resellers were thrown in together to help foster teamwork, and the exercise took in all of the main attractions and included time trials, a photographic competition and a quiz based on the conference. The team building culminated with a go on Hurakan Condor - a ride with a 100-metre vertical drop - after which the group was transferred by coach to the resort's Hotel Caribe.
Delegates reconvened later at the Portaventura beach club, which Solidworks had hired exclusively. Arrival drinks were served on the terrace, followed by an informal outdoor buffet. A little later, prizes were awarded to the winners of the day's team-building events and then guests were entertained by a set from a poolside DJ as the sun went down. For the revellers that wanted to party a little harder, discounts and transfers to a nightclub were organised at the end of the evening.
VERDICT "We carried out a survey after the event and 52 per cent of the delegates said the event was 'excellent' and the remaining 48 per cent marked it as 'good'," says Roberts. "We also got some great feedback, including one person who said that as a smaller reseller, he'd previously not felt part of the wider industry, but as a result of the conference, he felt that had changed, which was great to hear. Overall, we managed to successfully combine the serious and the fun and were very happy with the results."
Group size 110
Date 5-7 June 2008
Venue Portaventura Resort, Spain