Client: International Post Corporation
Event: Shareholder conference, board meeting
Group size: 80
Date: 14-15 May 2009
Venue: The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
The brief: Postal association, the International Post Corporation (IPC), needed to host its 2009 annual conference somewhere both accessible and affordable. The conference would draw together CEOs and senior executives of the largest national postal companies around the globe, including Royal Mail and 23 others from Europe, Australasia and North America, so it needed to be held somewhere easy to get to from different parts of the world. In recent years, the event had been staged in Brussels and Paris.
Challenges: IPC has an in-house events team, which worked directly with the hotel to ensure a smooth process. Other than the organisational challenges of coordinating delegate transport, another key aspect to consider was getting the necessary equipment in place. "The whole set was designed and shipped from Belgium," explains Neill Porterfield, events manager at The Balmoral Hotel.
Solution: Edinburgh was chosen for a number of reasons. As well as providing the necessary international air links, it was also seen to present an affordable choice. "The economic aspect was very important to us, especially at this time. It was a business meeting, but we wanted people to be able to get in, get out and enjoy a lovely city," says IPC head of communications Valoree Vargo. "The Balmoral was only 20 minutes from the airport, which eliminated another challenge for us."
With regards to the equipment set-up, the hotel found that forward planning was key. "We set up an action plan for both pre- and post-conference with IPC, to ensure the set was built and ready on time," says Porterfield. "The hotel is on a busy street in the heart of Edinburgh, so we had to look at the logistics of how long the trucks could park and unload."
Execution: The Sir Walter Scott Ballroom was used as the plenary space for the two-day conference, with a number of other function rooms used for board meetings and break-outs. The first day was given over to smaller meetings, while the event culminated on the second morning with the main conference. A prominent futurist was invited as a guest speaker to help form a clear picture of the postal customer of the future, while there was also a talk from a representative of Vodafone, a key UK client for the postal industry. The Edinburgh Post Office Pipe Band played for guests on the evening of the first day.
Verdict: Both hotel and client were pleased with how the event went, and comment cards showed very positive feedback from delegates. "I've been producing corporate events for 25 years and this was one of the best coordinated I've ever done," says IPC's Vargo. "That's mainly due to the calibre of the staff at The Balmoral. We were delighted."