Hosting a gala dinner for more than 3,000 guests is no mean feat, so when Perfect China came to Melbourne for its 2017 incentive programme in June, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) took it on with full gusto. The MCEC team worked closely with creative production agency, Triumph Leisure Solutions (TLS), to achieve the client’s event objectives.

TLS managing director, Blake Harris, who has also managed mega events for Amway and NuSkin, says: “Planning large incentive events can be challenging because of the sheer scale and numbers.

Moving guests efficiently and ensuring meals can be served while an extensive programme of live entertainment is delivered requires experience and careful planning. Fortunately, we had a great event partner in MCEC.”

Case Study: Aon Risk Symposium
Case Study: Aon Risk Symposium
How Uniplan delivered Parisian Macao grand opening extravaganza
How Uniplan delivered Parisian Macao grand opening extravaganza
Case Study: Art Basel in Hong Kong
Case Study: Art Basel in Hong Kong

Creativity

MCEC’s flexible space was the main drawcard for Perfect China, who required a very specific floor plan and table configuration for its 3,300 banquet guests, along with a sizeable stage for an impressive entertainment showcase.

Due to the stage location, there was limited back-of-house space for entertainers and performers. MCEC worked closely with TLS to find suitable dressing rooms and created custom routes for performers to take to the stage—giving guests the element of surprise when the extravaganza blasted onto the stage.

MCEC’s chefs also created an entirely customised Chinese menu (to the client’s exacting standards and budget) and held a comprehensive menu tasting for the client to select options for the threecourse meal, including vegetarian and halal entrées. Chefs even sourced a specific chilli sauce to ensure guests would have their favourite condiment to accompany the meal.


To overcome language barriers, MCEC’s team provided the client with visuals of all food items and table settings during planning and, on the day of the event, there was customised Mandarin signage and a Putonghuaspeaking MCEC employee was allocated to all VIP tables in order to accommodate special requests.

Challenges

Managing the swift arrival and departure of so many guests is an undeniable challenge. MCEC’s logistics team coordinated and planned for the arrival of more than 50 buses. The team managed the traffic and flow of attendees by dividing the group in two—buses dropped off and picked up half the attendees from the centre’s loading dock, while the remaining attendees entered and departed on foot via the centre’s main Clarendon Street entrance.


A pre-dinner cocktail event proved another logistical feat—serving canapés and drinks to 3,300 guests in 30 minutes—and, as per the client’s request, without setting up any equipment or infrastructure in the space.

To tackle this, the exhibition concourse was closed to the public and pre-function space split the exhibition concourse and bay, allowing for bars and buffets to be set-up on the concourse, while food and drink was served on trays inside the bay.

Two kitchens were also constructed on either side of the gala dinner space; ensuring more than 9,600 plated meals were served in the 90-minute timeframe—the fastest in MCEC’s dinner history.