Every event planner knows our industry is ruled by Murphy’s Law – whatever can go wrong, will! The very nature of events means that things will not run exactly according to plan even with the best planning. Risk assessment and due diligence go a long way to foreseeing potential snags and weak links. However, some obstacles cannot be foreseen.
A four day incentive program for a large group based in the centre of Athens was a case study example of this. Almost every day, a new challenge tested our team. Road closures, traffic rerouting, strikes and demonstrations all played a role!
Road closures for the Classic Athens Marathon, the sporting event of the year, meant guests would need to walk 500m across a busy highway intersection, with luggage, to get to the hotel. Numerous calls & emails to authorities met with indifference. Our director persevered to contact the person responsible, who put a special directive in place. Great teamwork between our excellent coach company and our staff, ensured the four coaches sailed through the traffic cordons to deliver our guests right to the door of the hotel.
Day three saw a last-minute strike by city-wide catering outlets threatening to overturn a walking food-tasting tour to artisanal producers. At very short notice, our team scrapped the original plan and brainstormed a new one with the activity facilitators. The outcome was a walk through some of the most authentic neighbourhoods of Athens to stores where guests tasted local products. The Central Market visit was a huge success while a honey producer gave a discourse on the huge variety of honey and honey products from Greece. The guests loved it!
Then we learned that construction work next to the private venue booked for the gala dinner had spread across the road, blocking the coaches’ approach. Another flurry of three-way phone calls between us, the venue management & site foreman ensued. Finally a compromise was reached with the site foreman allowing the coaches to use their private road.
On the morning of departure, a political demonstration in the center meant more last minute road closures would prevent the coaches reaching the hotel. This time we were able to directly contact the person responsible for the special permit to allow our coaches through the cordons. It was with a huge sigh of relief that we waved goodbye to our delightful guests! No one knew about the re-organizing that went on behind the scenes to make the event appear seamless for them.
The lesson learned from this event was that while it is not possible to foresee every obstacle, our longstanding relationships with reliable partners and our well-trained staff meant we were able to quickly find solutions together.
Athens, 14 December 2021