Costa del Sol: Sanofi Pasteur's Costa congress

The pharma firm settled for the Costa's warm climes and Westin's comfort for its sales conference.

Pre-event planning Sanofi Pasteur MSD wanted to hold its annual sales conference in a destination that was easily accessible and enjoyed a pleasant climate. BCD Meetings & Incentives already had a contract with the pharma firm to organise events, but had to pitch destination ideas. Fashionable Marbella fitted the bill because nearby Malaga Airport is well served by low-cost carriers and offers good connections to the UK.

Objectives Sanofi Pasteur wanted to bring together all of its regional sales teams to present new products, examine last year's results and discuss what the company hoped to achieve in the year ahead.

Challenges BCD M&I planned to hold team-building activities on the beach but needed permission from the local authority in order to do so. However, the agency found it difficult to get in touch with anyone in Spain in August.

"Spain tends to close down for the summer so it was really hard to get any answers from people at that time," explains BCD M&I project manager Olivia Hudson. "We needed to get permission in writing so it caused us to panic a bit."

Solution BCD M&I had a back-up plan in case it wasn't able to acquire permission to use the beach for team-building activities. Fortunately, just two weeks before the event, the agency was told that the group was allowed to use the beach. As part of the activities, teams had to build a catapult and throw an egg as far as they could. They were marked on how well they worked together.

The conference was held at the Westin La Quinta Golf Resort & Spa in Marbella (which is now run under the Sol Melia brand), where delegates stayed. "It has great meeting facilities and they offered us some cost-effective rates," says Hudson. "Delegates could use the hotel's spa and golf facilities in between meetings."

A gala dinner was held on the last night at upmarket eatery La Meridiana, which served first-class food and is next to a nightclub, convenient for those delegates wanting to extend the evening's festivities.

Other highlights included a dine-around at seven different restaurants in Puerto Banus. "The dine-around was a nice opportunity for the group to see a well-known and funky town that is popular with the rich and famous," says Hudson.

Client verdict Sanofi Pasteur senior events executive Sandra Fontaine says: "BCD M&I created an excellent event programme that was described by one of the delegates as 'the best event I have ever attended in my 20 years at the company', a comment that was echoed throughout the event."

Post-event analysis BCD M&I sent out feedback questionnaires two weeks after the event took place. Hudson says: "The delegates were impressed with the destination and the event. We have had really positive feedback."

TIMELINE
April/May 2009: Hotel and venue sites inspected
June: Delegate registration starts
12 September: Event set-up
14 September: Event kicks off in Marbella
October: Post-event feedback questionnaires sent out to delegates

FACTFILE
Client: Sanofi Pasteur MSD
Event: Sales conference
Group size: 70
Agency: BCD Meetings & Incentives
Date: 14-17 September 2009
Venue: Westin La Quinta Golf Resort & Spa
Budget: Undisclosed

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