The brief: Every year, insurance intermediary Towergate Partnership holds a three-day conference for its managing directors to plan its strategy for the year ahead. Delegates also have an afternoon to take part in incentive activities and attend a gala dinner on the second evening.
Challenges: Towergate has been visiting the Algarve for the past three years; however, 2008 was the first year it booked the Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort and Spa, having outgrown the nearby Lake Resort. With the venue booked, the concern for Annajane Thorpe, events manager at Towergate Partnership, was sourcing flights for all 170 delegates. "Easyjet is the main carrier to the Algarve and it doesn't release its flights till quite late - six months in advance - so it was a bit of a nightmare making sure that we had all our flights booked," she says.
Solution: To minimise the risk, the conference was moved from the end of October to the beginning of the month to take advantage of the summer flights schedule.
Execution: Some delegates arrived on Sunday evening with the rest arriving Monday morning. The conference kicked off at 2pm, followed in the evening with a barbecue buffet on the patio at the Hilton. "I was concerned that there might be a lot of queuing, but nobody had to wait," says Thorpe.
On Tuesday, the conference kicked off early at 8am and Towergate had the use of the entire conference floor, comprising the main ballroom and eight meeting rooms. In the afternoon, delegates were offered a choice of incentive activities from jet-skiing to go-karting at Almancil or golf over the road at the Pinhal golf course. Local event agency Vilamoura Ltd helped Towergate to organise transfers and a choice of activities.
In the evening, everyone came together for a gala dinner and awards presentation in the main ballroom, plus entertainment from magician and comedian Paul Zenon. On the final day, everyone returned to the conference for the closing speeches before flying home in the afternoon. Towergate's sister company CCV then took over the venue for the remainder of the week for its own conference with 50 delegates.
Verdict: "I was really pleased with how the event went," says Thorpe, who has already rebooked the venue for next year's conference. "We needed a hotel that would provide a one-stop shop for meals and meetings, and the Hilton's conference facilities were fantastic. We've had really good feedback from delegates."
Client: Towergate Partnership
Group size: 170
Date: 6-10 October 2008
Venue: Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort and Spa