During my time with the Seventy Ninth Group, I have become well-versed in creating events across the globe that provide our Directors with the opportunity to engage and connect with the company’s partners and clients. However, in a company that celebrates being different, it is critical that our events challenge the status quo of corporate events and showcase excellence.
Crafting a large-scale event in a country that’s not my home base has been quite the journey. It unfolds over months, involving extensive planning to create a clear vision for the day and collaboration with numerous vendors, all supported by our global teams. Bringing these teams together under one shared vision: creating an unforgettable day.
Creating the vision
In the early stages of event planning, the crucial question we ask ourselves is, ‘What’s the purpose?’ For any event to take shape, we need a clear understanding of who it’s for, the scale it’s intended to be, and most importantly, the ‘why’ behind its existence. This initial phase serves as the foundation for the entire vision we aim to bring to life.
I was fortunate to have a strong sense of direction from our company Directors. They sought to celebrate our remarkable growth over the past two years and express our gratitude to the clients and partners who’ve been instrumental in our expansion. It was also a perfect moment to showcase the company’s development over the past year and our latest offerings.
Now equipped with a clear purpose for the event, our Chairman, Dave Webster, also provided an insight into his own vision for the event which was fuelled by excitement and enthusiasm – something as an Events Manager you have to control at times. From suggestions of helicopter landings, wild animals and an event space that resembled a spaceship, the precedent was set in bold: this event had to be anything but ordinary. It had to challenge the status quo of corporate gatherings and convey who we are at the Seventy Ninth Group.
Building on the success of a similar event from the previous year, we saw the opportunity to raise the stakes, making this year’s event a symbolic representation of our extraordinary growth. This vision, guided by the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ and ‘why,’ paved the way for every element of the event – from the choice of venue and entertainment to the key messages we aimed to convey. It’s this vision that sets the tone for an unforgettable day.
Mapping the timelines
Planning an event on a grand scale, particularly overseas, adds an extra layer of complexity to the already intricate process. Beyond the usual considerations, you now grapple with the intricacies of shipping timelines and the challenges of vetting vendors that you can’t meet face-to-face until the week of the event. This demands a higher level of due diligence, ensuring that every cog in the machinery is well-oiled and reliable.
When hosting an event with a distinguished guest list of clients and partners, the quality of every detail must exceed expectations. The challenge is not only ensuring they meet the stringent criteria set by your team but also that they resonate with the ethos of the event—excellence with a distinct anti-corporate flavour. This was important when creating the bespoke bar, stage and walkway for the evening section of the event as the success of the evening is directly impacted by the environment you create, it requires you to put a lot of trust that the vendor will carry out your vision, this highlights the importance of factoring in additional time for quality assurance to allow you to address any risks prior to the event day.
One key principle in our event planning process is working backwards from the event date, laying out all the essential steps required for a seamless execution. This includes time for briefing, design and production timelines, rigorous quality assurance, and delivery schedules. Every phase must be carefully timed, allowing room for revisions should any element require fine-tuning.
Maintaining the highest level of quality assurance is paramount, especially in customer-facing events. Each component, from the environment marketing to promotional materials, must showcase your key narrative. In our case, it was a commitment to excellence and an aversion to corporate conventions. Quality assurance involved close collaboration with my marketing team, ensuring the evolution of the event’s brief was effectively managed over the course of three months. This ongoing alignment was instrumental in producing a unique, cohesive, and unforgettable experience for our guests.
Defining roles for our expanding team has become instrumental in the execution of our events. As the Dubai, Guinea, and UK teams joined forces, clarifying responsibilities took centre stage.
Since our last event, the Dubai team has grown from just 3 members to over 15. When you pair this with a further 10 members of our UK team and 2 members of our Guinea team, ensuring everybody has a clear understanding of their role and being provided with the tools to carry out their role successfully becomes paramount. For example, our Dubai-based Account Manager’s underwent extensive training, gaining proficiency in all aspects of our ongoing projects. This allowed them to provide comprehensive answers to all inquiries at our exhibition points during the day.
Simultaneously, our In-Country team from Guinea played a pivotal role by providing invaluable insights into the recent drilling campaign undertaken by Seventy Ninth Resources. Our Non-Executive Director, Adrienne Kelbie CBE, donned the hat of the compere for the day, allowing us to seamlessly transition through the various stages of the day.
We introduced various activation points across the golf course. These included the thrill-packed Hole in One competition, offering a BMW X2 as the prize. We also set up a Shawarma Station where guests enjoyed what one of them dubbed ‘the best wrap he had ever had.’ These additions provided our team with more opportunities for engagement outside of a corporate environment. Our carefully planned hourly schedule ensured that every staff member had dedicated breaks and could seamlessly rotate between the activation points.
In conclusion, defining roles and responsibilities not only shaped the course of the day but also played a pivotal role in ensuring that our partners and clients had an opportunity to engage with all of our team. This dedication to role definition is particularly vital when orchestrating events on an international scale.
Navigating the unexpected
When planning a large-scale event, meticulous organisation and careful planning are crucial. However, there are always unforeseen challenges that no amount of preparation can entirely prevent.
For the 79th Golf Invitational, we had planned every detail down to the tee, but the dynamic nature of such an event meant that we had to navigate some unexpected twists.
One of the unforeseen challenges was managing changes in the groups of golfers. We had to rearrange groups several times on the morning of the event. Due to last-minute additions and cancellations, we had to stay agile and adapt quickly. This flexibility was essential, especially because the nature of the golf game required us to maintain groups of four, a key aspect of the 4-ball Texas Scramble format.
Late arrivals were another unexpected issue that we had to manage. Despite our well-organised registration process, some attendees arrived late. However, our Account Managers were well-prepared to assist, ensuring that the latecomers seamlessly joined their groups and caught up on registration details. The golf club were quick to provide buggies to those who arrived late to expedite their journey to the course.
Additionally, on the event day, we encountered a challenge related to the furniture layout for the evening event. Dave had specific ideas about the seating arrangement and wanted to create a more engaging atmosphere. He requested changes to the initial layout, which required quick adjustments. Fortunately, our production team efficiently accommodated his vision. This flexibility was possible because our schedule accounted for the time required to handle last-minute adjustments without affecting the overall flow of the event.
One memorable incident emphasised the significance of having a sizeable team. In this case, the staff uniforms were not delivered to the hotel as planned – meaning that just 24 hours prior to the event, we had no uniforms for our staff. As I was engaged in meetings with vendors, I couldn’t be in two places at once. Ella, the Executive Assistant to our CEO, offered to navigate the busy Dubai traffic via taxi to collect the uniforms from the other side of the city. This episode highlighted the importance of having an extensive and capable team to support unforeseen challenges.
In an event of this magnitude, it’s the ability to adapt and navigate the unexpected that truly defines a successful experience. These moments serve as a reminder that even the most meticulously planned events can still surprise you, and it’s having the right team in place that makes all the difference.
The 79th Golf Invitational was more than just an event; it was a testament to meticulous planning, adaptability, and the remarkable work of our dedicated team. As we embarked on this journey, our primary goal was to create a day that showcased our brand’s excellence but also left our guests with lasting memories.
Even after a successful event, it is important to take time to reflect on what went well, what could have been done better and most importantly, what have I learnt? All of these things are instrumental in allowing you to grow as an Events Manager.
In the world of event planning, it’s the ability to adapt and the strength of your team that truly define success. The 79th Golf Invitational was not just a memorable day; it was a reminder that in every meticulously planned event, there’s room for surprises and unexpected moments that add a unique charm to the occasion.
This event required time, commitment and dedication to detail for all of our team involved, and I couldn’t be more proud to have seen our diverse teams join forces to create a day that was nothing short of excellent. As we look towards the new year, I do so with excitement for the next event with the knowledge that the Seventy Ninth family, regardless of geographical location, will pull together aligned to one vision.