I have mixed feelings as I see off the guests from our dealer conference in Dubai.
I'm glad that the 4 months of hard work are over, and that the meticulous planning proved worthwhile, but this is shaded with a tinge of sadness as the event finished in a flash ... just as new friendships were being kindled and I was starting to enjoy it !
It had been 2 years since we last held such a conference for our Russian and former Soviet Union customers. After trips to Hungary, Finland, Switzerland and Czech preciously, we were again considering Europe, until someone in the team suggested Dubai. I don't know why this option had never been tabled before, but with me living here and us having an office and an infrastructure more than able to deal with the event, it was a quick decision to confirm it as the venue for 2011.
I pulled out the contacts I had at Emirates and the Atlantis Hotel, and the event timetable set itself. Beach time, water park, desert safari, a gala dinner by the sea and shopping, all positioned around a formal conference morning.
As with all such events, big picture planning is the easy part, but there are hours of dedication put in by so many people (internal and external to our company), and they deserve a depth of gratitude for their efforts. Details starting from setting the theme of the event to the letters that go out each day of the event, the logistics of bringing poeple from more than 10 different time zones to the location, and then on the ground coordination. From the center pieces on the dinner tables, to the music selection for the band ... it is an amazing amount of work for a 72 hour "project" but was executed by those involved to near perfection. Thanks to all of you involved from the Moscow office, Dubai office, Arabian Adventures and The Atlantis !
The main conference part this year comprised of 6 business presentations followed by a "cooking class" in the hotel.
6 presenters (including myself) each made presentations (very snappy, even if I do say so myself), and there was a great effort (and relief) to avoid the usual formal verbatim powerpoint slides. Each presentation was lively and the whole "show" littered with multimedia that was well appreciated by the audience who I also believe got some genuine take home value knowing that much more about our business and what we have to offer.
Our guests then moved on to the Saffron restaurant. We had taken it over to allow our guests to occupy the different cooking stations and try their hands at making sushi, naan, tempura, hamburgers and pastries, and at the same time, have a good chance to experience our products in the kitchen.
It's easy to spend money on events such as this. Booking a good hotel and fancy restaurants is easy. We have always tried to go that extra mile to structure our events and trips and take care of our guests on a whole other level. We strive to create memories and strong emotions each time we do this and from the reaction and words of praise I got from so many of our guests at the gala dinner last night, I can see that this was achieved, noticed and appreciated ... and that makes it all worthwhile.