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1,000 incentives delegates at Sheraton generate B150m



CHERNG TALAY: A thousand Australians descended on the Sheraton Grande Laguna Phuket on April 8 for the biggest incentive program yet hosted in the Laguna complex.

The organizers, Hagemeyer Electrical of Australia, a subsidiary of Dutch trading giant Hagemeyer, estimate that the three-day program, which brought 850 of the company’s top customers to Thailand, injected some 150 million baht into the Thai economy, excluding airfares.

Because Phuket has no dedicated conference and exhibitions building, Hagemeyer built its own. Erection of the “Hockerdome”, a mammoth tent, began in February beside the Y-junction, next to the road into the Laguna Beach Resort.

It contained a 1,000-seat auditorium with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment and an exhibition hall large enough for booths for 80 of Hagemeyer’s suppliers.

The Sheraton’s General Manager, Jan Kirstein, explained that the agreement to hold the incentive program was signed two years ago, and that Hagemeyer had made no fewer than eight inspection visits in the interim.

Noting that this was the first time the hotel had been entirely booked by one group, he added, “It’s a fantastic commitment to this destination.”

The Managing Director of Diethelm Travel Thailand, Richard Brouwer, which was heavily involved in arrangements for the program, agreed. “I think it’s a great opportunity for demonstrating that Phuket is back,” he said.

Hagemeyer’s CEO, Robin Norris, explained that this was the third time in eight years that the incentive program had been held in Thailand, and the second time Hagemeyer had opted to construct its own facilities.

The first time, he said, was in Bangkok in 2003, when the Shangri La Hotel’s conference facilities were stretched by extending them into the hotel’s car park.

Asked why the company had chosen Phuket, a venue that has no dedicated conference facilities, he said that the first priority in selecting a location was to identify a place that would “excite” the company’s customers.

It should also have enough accommodation for some 1,000 people, including Hagemeyer’s customers, 80 of its suppliers and some 100 of its own people. That accommodation should also be close by in order to avoid wasting time in transferring people from hotel to conference hall and back.

Asked whether the company would be tempted to return to Phuket if the island had a conference and exhibition center, he said, “It would certainly attract us. You take on a lot of risk with something like the Hockerdome.”

Les Alford, General Manager Asia of Incentive House, which was also deeply involved in the organization of the event, added, “There is a limited number of locations. Incentives look for desirable destinations that are going to motivate the winners. So it’s not just a conference destination; it has to motivate the customers.”

Hagemeyer Electrical has offices in 180 locations in Australia and recently set up operations in Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. The entire group operates in 25 countries worldwide, employing some 21,000 people and recorded a turnover last year of 5.6 billion euros (260 billion baht).


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