The Oval Group in Dubrovnik

The insurance broker chose the walled city to bring together and motivate its top achievers

FACTFILE
Client: The Oval Group
Event: Annual incentive
Agency: Emu Events
DMC: Dubrovnik Travel
Group size: 50
Dates: 17-19 September 2008
Venue: Grand Villa Argentina, Dubrovnik

The brief: The insurance broker wanted to motivate its top achievers with a short-haul destination that would really impress the group, while staying within a reasonable budget. Dubrovnik's image as somewhere out of the ordinary gave it the edge over the likes of Vienna and Lisbon. The three-day programme also needed to focus on bringing together the 50 delegates - from different UK offices and departments - to encourage future cross-selling between sectors.

Challenges: Preparation for the event began in February, with a site visit in May to consider different hotels and finalise logistics. A few obstacles arose. "We needed ten Zodiacs (RIB boats) for the team-building part of the itinerary, but there was no single place from which to hire them," explains Mike Utton, director of Emu Events. "The only way we could source them was visiting individual boat-owners along the coast."

The language barrier also presented a few small hiccups in terms of those on the ground understanding exactly what the event was trying to achieve.

Solution: Local DMC Dubrovnik Travel was brought on board to fine-tune the event. "Many of the elements we needed, the DMC was able to find through friends of friends rather than businesses, so they were invaluable," says Utton. Several of the group hotels were undergoing rebuilds or licence reviews, so the client stayed at Grand Villa Argentina, which had impressed organisers with its willingness to accommodate their meeting requests.

Execution: The group met at the Sofitel Gatwick the night before departure. On arrival at Dubrovnik, a 25-minute transfer to the hotel was followed by a drinks reception and afternoon at leisure. At night, an informal meal was held al fresco in the square beside Pucic Palace in the Old Town. "The idea of the event was to bring the group together, so it was important that the participants spent time settling in with each other," says Utton.

This theme continued the next day. After a conference session on 'What makes people buy', the participants were split into groups of ten. Care was taken to match employees with those who might prove valuable colleagues in the workplace.

A fleet of Zodiacs then transferred the group first to Lokrum Island, then to Supetar Island, which had been hired exclusively for the afternoon. Following a barbecue lunch, the day revolved around a number of team-building activities, ranging from blindfold challenges and rowing to archery and mental agility tasks. In the evening, participants were treated to pre-dinner drinks on the Old Town wall before descending to a "truly unforgettable" gala dinner at Gils Restaurant, itself built into the wall. The meal was followed by a formal presentation and the distribution of 'Top Achiever' awards. The following day was spent at leisure before a post-lunch return flight to the UK.

Verdict: "It was a very slick and well-organised event, which I believe achieved all its objectives," says Kevin Williams, regional director of The Oval Group. "It has raised the bar for future events."

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