Client: CBI East Midlands and Pricewaterhousecoopers
Group size: 487
Date: 20 January 2009
The Brief: CBI East Midlands, in association with Pricewaterhousecoopers, wanted a formal dinner to showcase the keynote speech given by Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England. Dinner was to be preceded by a drinks reception for local business people and media.
Challenges: The original booking was for 250, but by early January numbers had almost doubled because of the event's status. The venue had three events that day and staff had to turn around the Banqueting Suite for a 47-table dinner.
The room was busy on the night and the client wanted to be sure everyone could hear the speech. The Bank of England also made special requests for King, including silver service, a gooseneck microphone and lighting from the sides, not the front, during the speech.
Solutions: EMCC solved the increased number of delegates by rethinking the table plan and recruiting more waiting staff. To ensure everyone could hear the speech, it set up a podium with screens on either side and a cameraman live-linking to the screens.
"We were working at maximum capacity but pulled together as a team to ensure things ran smoothly," says event co-ordinator Alice Stainthorp.
The special requests by Bank of England staff required more careful negotiation, especially as the governor has a strong preference for silver service at dinner. "We liaised closely with the client and the Bank of England because we felt a plated service would keep the dinner moving faster. We gave our reasons for varying from the client brief and suggested alternatives," explains Stainthorp.
Execution: The drinks reception started at 7pm in the atrium, while a VIP reception sponsored by Pricewaterhouse-coopers took place in the upstairs gallery for invited guests. The toastmaster called delegates through for the three-course dinner at 7.30pm. King started to speak at 8.15pm, delivering a 20-minute speech between the starter and main course. The toastmaster brought events to a close at 10pm, and the bar was open until 11pm before carriages.
Verdict: Paul Southby, regional director CBI East Midlands, says: "The occasion was well managed by the events manager, and on the evening the duty manager and her staff performed efficiently and helpfully."
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