14th May 2012 – Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket says good-bye to the last of our Amway China guest who has been staying at the resort since 15th April 2012. In total, more than 15,000 Amway China delegates and event staff visited Laguna Phuket over the past four weeks for the direct marketing company’s annual Leadership Seminar. At Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket we catered to approximately 4,000 Amway China delegates. Around Phuket, more than 6 different hotels, such as Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, Angsana Laguna Phuket, Banyan Tree Laguna Phuket, Laguna Beach Resort, Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort, and Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa Karon hosted guests for this event.
These guests came in 6 waves, spent 4 nights and 5 days at their designated hotels, and took part in a four-day itinerary which included a day trip to the Phi Phi islands and Phang Nga Bay, and a spectacular gala dinner consisting of 21 grand buffets for up to 1000 guests organized at Laguna Grove and Phuket FantaSea.
Laguna Phuket welcomes MICE travelers every year, but the Amway China event was the largest of any held on the island before.
Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket surveyed the first wave of Amway China delegates and found that we had earned a 94 percent satisfaction rating. The hotel was under-staffed and not trained enough to accommodate 400 guests per wave. The Food & Beverage Department had closed two restaurants and split the team in half to support the 21 gala dinners at Laguna Grove. Much team work and organization was involved into making this event successful. Staff from every department of the hotel supported each other to conduct a smooth service. For example, front office supported housekeeping to make-up rooms. It was an efficient practice, where staff from other departments could learn the tips and tricks of another department.
It was a difficult time since I had to close my restaurant and split my team to support the Food & Beverage Operation within the hotel and the Laguna Grove. It wasn’t an easy task since my team went from an operational team into a support team for banqueting. The sequence of service had to be re-organized, standards had to be set, and most importantly teamwork had to be built. One day before, I organized a briefing with all team members for an ice-breaking activity; to understand the event, and most importantly to build the team. We also had support of 8 casuals who were on wages.
Wave 1 – Arrival of 394 guests at the hotel, welcomed at lobby lounge with a welcome drink and a cold towel while check-in. In the evening, their welcome dinner buffet was arranged on the poolside terrace for three waves, each wave of approximately 100 guests which continued from 9pm until 2am, (depending on the flight arrivals). Next day, all guest left after breakfast to Phi Phi Islands. They were scheduled to return in the evening. Some guests had special invitations for a barbeque dinner at Banyan Tree and some went to Patong to enjoy their free time. Day 3, guests leave for Phang-Nga day trip and return late evening. Day 4, after breakfast, guests are in-house for activities around the hotel, and the evening gala dinner buffet at Phuket FantaSea. Day 5, guest check-out early morning, and re-setup to welcome the next wave.
As far as revenue is concerned, Amway China guests had fixed activities around Phuket and in the hotels and didn’t allocate time to enjoy the facilities of the hotels. Amway China delegates and staff each received 8 drink coupons and 4 lunch coupons as incentives to utilize during their stay. These coupons meant money to us, if we didn’t come up with a strategy to promote our drinks and lunch menus to them; Amway China could have saved money.
Day 1 – we tried to up-sell our drinks to them, FAILED! We calculated the total coupons which could be received on average should be 780 coupons per day, out of which we didn’t even receive half. As time went by, we tried to study the behavior of these guests, finding out that Chinese guests do not like to sit at the bar or restaurant to drink, instead they like to take-away. Also, some guests didn’t know that they could actually exchange their coupons for the drinks. Actually, upon check-in, Amway staff should have informed their guests about their benefits, which is directly linked to us; however, they did not inform.
Anyhow, I tried to sell the drinks by having my staff walk around the hotel premises with the drinks on the tray, and a picture of the drink coupons on a tent card. Guess what? It worked! Our staff was not trained to speak Chinese, but the guest could understand the picture tent card on the tray with drinks as the Food & Beverage Staff walked around.
All in all, Amway China brought us a totally new experience to deal with Chinese guests. For future plans, we are also investing in Mandarin class for local staff to speak with Mandarin guests in the near future. Overall, it was great fun!