"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page"
-St Augustine

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Challenge of a 5,000 delegate Convention

It was one of the mega conventions we’ve handled. This convention was organised by a corporate, and it was a one-day motivational event, with participants from Asia Pacific.

As this is a motivational event, venue set up, AV and entertainment became important elements of the convention. The convention lasted for some 12 hours in one day, from morning till evening.

We used Hall 5BC of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, the biggest pillar-less hall at the Centre. The first challenge was to design a huge backdrop of over 150 ft long, and a three dimensional one to cater for artists entering the stage from different angles. What’s more, the logo for the event was composed of a flying eagle with its claw holding the earth, to be cut out and attached on top of the backdrop to give the feel of a flying eagle in motion – a technical challenge to create a huge and heavy figure with a weak supporting beneath (claws of the eagle).

After the technical issues on staging were resolved, we then go back to the crowd control management. As the programme schedule was very tight, there was not enough time to offer free time over lunch for delegates to find their own restaurants nearby, or moving them to another venue. We needed to start the meeting spot on time in the afternoon. Eventually, we decided to offer lunch boxes in-situ. Although the Centre was very cooperative in providing 5,000 lunch boxes all at once, to avoid long queues for lunch boxes, we carefully planned location of the collection stations, arranging sufficient numbers of assistants to lead delegates, row by row and section by section, to collect their lunch boxes, and at the end of the lunch, huge rubbish bins to collect the emptied boxes, which were, indeed, enormous.

It also took a lot of patience from our stage manager to manage the back stage. Some of the programmes were performed by the delegates themselves, who were amateur ‘artists’. Some require extra care due to stage fright before their show time, while others were highly spirited, but forgot their cues.

The climax of convention was an entertainment performed by a pop singer from Hong Kong. After a full day of motivational sessions, delegates were high motivated, with their spirits high, and in a highly emotional mood. When the pop singer came up onto the stage, instantaneously a thunderous applause and the audience stood up, singing and dancing with the singer.

We originally thought of using security guards for crowd control near the stage, the usual practice when celebrity was involved, but dropped the idea as it appeared like two opposing camps while this was meant to be a convivial gathering. Eventually, with the support of local tertiary institutions, we solicited hundreds of students, holding hands in hands, to create a ‘human chain’ and our supervisors and officers at the sides near the stage for crowd control.

The convention concluded with a huge group of highly motivated, cheerful and joyous audience. Our team was exhausted, having stayed up overnight to do the venue set up and technical rehearsal, but got exultant with a project successfully complete, and high spirited being a ‘part-time’ audience of a motivational session.

The Momentous Team

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