Meet outside the box: turn conventional into sensational

Meeting rooms and ballrooms are great places for business meetings — that is, until they are not. Think outside the box and figure out how you can turn a conventional meeting into an extraordinary experience from beginning to end.
Meeting rooms and ballrooms are great places for business meetings — that is, until they are not. Think outside the box and figure out how you can turn a conventional meeting into an extraordinary experience from beginning to end.

When it comes to business meetings, planners want to create the very best experience for attendees. Aside from taking care of the basics, from a comfortable venue to an enticing menu, they have to ensure their guests are engaged and offered ample networking opportunities. After all, they're the ones investing time, effort and money out to show up.

Here's the tricky part: after the initial excitement, most business meetings settle into a familiar rhythm. The momentum can only last for so long when you're confined to a conference room or ballroom for hours, or even days, on end.

How, then, do you keep people engaged and entertained? How do you turn a conventional business meeting into a series of unforgettable experiences?

1. Give them some downtime
Instead of scheduling back-to-back meetings and events, it's a good idea to slot some free time in between the keynote speeches and the sharing sessions. Downtime allows your guests to catch up, collect their thoughts, rest and relax. And we're not just talking about 15-minute tea breaks out along the corridors either. Plan for hour-long breaks throughout the day to allow attendees to roam in and around the meeting venue. That way they can really soak in what the destination has to offer.

2. Hop on the wellness train
You don't even need to be a planner to know health and wellness is a growing trend in the meetings industry - and for good reason too. With busy schedules to keep to, jet-setting attendees often don't have the time to take care of their physical and mental health. Therefore, planning for health- and wellness-related activities before, during or after the event is a nice way to break up the monotony. It doesn't have to be anything too complicated - a 30-minute yoga session or a little spa treatment to loosen any tension in the neck, shoulders and back.  Many hotels offer complimentary spa sessions in their meeting packages. Even the F&B can be tweaked for healthier options. From low-sodium choices to full-on vegetarian courses, the decision is completely up to your tastebuds.

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It doesn't have to be all business all the time. Work some team-building activities into the programme to create meaningful experiences also.

3. Organise team-building activities
A massage is not the only activity that guests can be engaged in. For something entertaining and meaningful at the same time, consider introducing some team-building activities into the mix, such as football, ultimate frisbee, even a treasure hunt.

If you have no idea where to start, Centara can help. Choose from a selection of 30-90-minute team-building programmes, hosted by Centara's in-house trainers and experts. Furthermore, com-panies like Asia Ability, which has a partnership with Centara, is all about planning and deliver-ing creative team-building events for corporate clients in the Asia-Pacific region. One such activi-ties required teams to direct and shoot their very own travel and food show in Hong Kong, com-plete with an awards presentation ceremony at the end. In terms of group size, Asia Ability can plan for anywhere between 10 and 2,000 people. Furthermore, as a partner of Centara, they can be activated at anytime to any Centara property in the region if need be. 

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Grand ballrooms are fine and well, but take moving to different venue can get the creative juices flowing at an otherwise sterile business meeting.

4. Consider different venues
It's difficult to encourage meeting attendees to think "outside the box" when they're inside the same bland conference rooms or ballrooms all day. When selecting your next meeting venue, it's good idea to look at those offering more than just your standard carpeted, air-conditioned rooms.

If you are planning for a meeting in Thailand but want to steer clear of the hustle and bustle of its busy capital, the sandy beaches along the southern shores are worth considering.

Take Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, for example. While the 261-key resort does have 1,348sqm of meeting spaces - one grand ballroom, two smaller ballrooms and five meeting rooms - it is also right next to the beach, which Phuket is known for. If you are looking to hold a post-meeting cocktail party, you can choose from one of seven restaurants and bars on the premise, but there is something special about socialising with fellow attendees with sand between your feet and the sunset over the Andaman Sea. Compared to your conventional restaurant or bar, this is a tough one to beat.

If a meeting at the beach has already been done before, Centara's creative team can even cater to more left-field venue ideas, with dine-in-the-dark experiences, as well as power meetings onboard a submarine - you think it, the team will make it happen.

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The business meeting doesn't have to begin and end within the venue. Take advantage of the city's attractions and show your guests around.

5. Show them around

Meetings and conventions often require some sort of travel for attendees, causing them to leave their homes for an extended period of time. And while their agendas tend to be packed, gaps in the schedules or extra time after the meeting could present opportunities for planners to showcase the best of what the city has to offer. So instead of leaving attendees to figure out what to do with their time, provide them with a sample itinerary of things to do and see in the destination.

Here's an exciting idea: if your attendees are looking for some thrills and spills in between meetings, Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya has its very own theme park and water park right next to the beach and crystal blue waters. Pattaya itself also offers myriad sightseeing opportunities for attendees to sample. Some of the most popular attractions away from the beaches include Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, the Pattaya Floating Market and the Sanctuary of Truth.

And depending on the time of the year, Pattaya is also home to a number of cultural festivals as well. A highlight on the calendar is the Loy Krathong Celebrations. Gather near the beach to see thousands of sky lanterns ascend into the night sky - a beautiful sight to behold.

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At Centara, we help turn our client's ideas into reality. Here is an example of bubble football event we held for one of our clients recently.

6. Making ideas come to life

Be it a pilates lesson in the morning, a sample itinerary around town or some downtime in be-tween meetings, it all comes down to what planners want to achieve and the kind of experiences they want to provide. The good news is that, at Centara, there are dedicated teams of people to help turn your ideas into reality.

For a more personalised, end-to-end event management, Centara will assign an on-site manager to tailor-make the entire meeting experience. Known as our Meeting Guru, he will be your go-to person for coordinating with specialists, facility staff and technical resources at every step of the way. Centara will even provide dedicated LINE or WeChat access for delegates to communicate with their groups via QR code.

From organising team-building activities like bubble football and kayaking expeditions to special beachfront events, Centara's in-house team is experienced and more than qualified to create un-forgettable memories. 

For more information on how Centara can help you meet your business objectives, get in touch at [email protected]


This article was brought to you by Centara Hotels & Resorts.

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