Planner’s Diary: How We Display Grace Under Pressure

No stranger to the exacting world of event planning, Thailand-based Patranuch Sudasna has helped her clients negotiate some of the most demanding circumstances across every stage of the event. Meetings & Conventions Asia sits down with her to find out the main takeaways and insights after 12 years in the industry.

Memorable moments 
One of the moments that really inspired us was receiving the Outstanding International Convention award from AFECA for one of our events. Another highlight was winning the Silver category accolade at the Thailand Creative Event Awards for two of our events. 

A creative mindset  
One of our corporate clients was returning to Bangkok with a mixture of repeat and first-time attendees. The challenge was proposing a programme that would excite repeaters while catering to newcomers. 

As it turned out, some repeaters wanted to revisit the attractions for newcomers. So we shuffled our logistics to move a number of people on short notice. 

Challenging scenarios 
A client wanted to install an extra-large LED screen for an afterparty on the 61st storey. Installation plus wind and inclement weather factors were obvious challenges. It took some convincing on my part to get okays from the venue owner, stage contractor and AV technicians-but the results were worthwhile.

I recently organised a large high-profile international conference at a developing destination. It was a challenging process from start to finish as I had to bring in most of the equipment, software and specialists from Bangkok. At the opening ceremony, the electricity went off. The venue had power generators, but it took a while before we regained power. Fortunately, I had procedures for all possible scenarios, so our staff remained calm and kept delegates informed throughout.

Troubleshooting tactics
We were working on a major medical world congress for three years as the PCO. Six days before the opening, an explosion erupted adjacent to the congress venue. The organising committee decided to continue the congress as planned. Delegate cancellations streamed in, but no speakers cancelled, so preparations continued.

The Royal Thai Government was praised for rapid strategic recovery efforts, which quickly restored confidence in the city among locals and international visitors alike. As the PCO, we took charge of the situation and posted updates that the situation was under control, and extra security measures were adopted across the convention centre, hotels and public places.

The congress opened as scheduled, and despite earlier cancellations, onsite registration hit 2,600, up from the 2,400 recorded on the day of the incident. We gained considerable experience on crisis management and determining the different levels of concerns from national representatives, advisories and governments.

Important takeaways 
1. Customer retention is our priority; it is how good reputation is built. Some gurus say keeping existing customers is 10% of the cost to get new ones. 
2. Understand the customer and what their objectives are, then set out to realise their expectations.
3. An old saying that never gets outdated: Under-promise, but over-deliver.

Name: Patranuch Sudasna
Company: CDM (Conference & Destination Management)
No. Of Years' Experience: 14 years
No. Of Events Organised: >300 events

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