My Best Meeting Moment By Faruk Safa, Paris Marriott Rive Gauche Hotel & Conference Center

It Was My Second Biggest Event of the Year. What Could Go Wrong?

Goal: Make Everything Run Like Clockwork for a Computer Giant

International Computer, a global technology company, wanted to hold a five-day forum that would involve 1,900 room nights, with 800 guests on site per day. This would be our second biggest event of the year in revenue.

Guests were coming from all over the world, and they would be using our convention center, with four floors and as many as 40 breakout rooms. We’d be moving walls and changing rooms several times a day. We had to be creative and flexible, and the Internet had to work perfectly.

You never expect to hear live music early in the morning.

Starting the Day with a Tune

We worked with the event planner and did some creative things, like putting Formula One simulators in the foyer area where the guests had coffee breaks. And at 8:30 in the morning in the meeting rooms, instead of music over the sound system, there was a light orchestra with some vocalists to welcome the attendees. It’s the first time in the 35 years I’ve been here that we’ve done that. It was very much unexpected and appreciated. You never expect to hear live music early in the morning.

Secure Connections and Personalization

We had 800 Intranet connections for each day. It was very important for the guests to have secure and reliable communications back to their own companies. We also personalized the room keys with the name of the host, and there was a lot of information on the keys. We used dynamic digital signage for the breakout rooms, and through our networking system we were able to send out information that attendees received on their iPads and iPhones. It was all very high-tech.

Planning Motto: Be Ready for Anything

A lot of little challenges came up, but we handled them. There were many dietary restrictions, for people from all over the world.

Also, we have very strict fire codes, so when they wanted to fill inflatable sofas with a certain gas to weigh them down, it didn’t meet code. We ended up putting heavy weights inside to keep the sofas on the floor.

But solving problems with creativity made it memorable. In the end, International Computer was very satisfied.