African adventures in the name of research

If youre a regular reader of Veritas blog, youll know that I was recently lucky enough to be invited on a famil to Follow the African Sun. What an experience! Our group consisted of 9 event managers from Sydney and Melbourne (from the Conference Business, The Management Group, Millbank, Incentive House, Carlson Marketing, EJP, Events Corp and Ci Events), along with our hosts from Tourism Portfolio, V-Australia and Travel Motives. On a famil, the local DMC (Destination Management Company) wants to show you the best of what they can offer (theres no point taking you all the way there and doing things by halves) and boy, were we spoilt! We stayed at three beautiful 5-star Sun International properties which all had their own character. Following a comfortable flight with V-Australia in Premium Economy class, we arrived into Johannesburg airport and transferred to Sun City resort (Palace of the Lost City) for welcome drinks and a casual supper in the atmospheric Tusk Bar. There are so many activities available to a conference or incentive group at Sun City and a good nights sleep set us up for an action-packed day following a site visit of the enormous Sun City resort, we embarked on our first game drive. Just 10 minutes from the hotel is the Pilanesburg National Park where we were incredibly lucky in the blistering heat of the day - to spot zebras, elephants, impala, white rhino, hippo, warthog and the only cheetah in the park! The wildlife drive was followed by an up close and personal elephant interaction at a sanctuary where we got to pat and feed the elephants. A delicious private lunch was served to our group back at the hotel, outside in the Elephant Courtyard complete with saxophonist, champagne and red carpet. With full bellies, each group member then embarked on their chosen afternoon activity some luxuriated in the spa, others hit a few golf balls on the adjoining Gary Player course whilst I and two other event managers jumped on quad bikes and hooned around a nearby game reserve! Arriving back to our hotel rooms, we found a cute handmade wire radio (fully functioning!) inviting us to a Jukebox Jol this turned out to be a live jukebox party concept, where a local band played songs requested by us using cards at our place settings. The private party took place around a beautifully lit swimming pool. I fell into my bed jetlagged and exhausted that night! One of our group didnt read the signs in his room advising guests to keep bedroom doors closed at night and awoke to find a baboon raiding his minibar!! After an early start, we continued our journey to Zambia its less than a 2 hour flight from Johannesburg to Livingstone which easily fits into an incentive program. We arrived at our hotel, the Royal Livingstone, in style by speed boat on the Zambezi River! This was a pinch yourself moment. We were welcomed by the beautiful voices of the local choir and enjoyed a light lunch, with G&T in hand, on the hotels gorgeous sun deck, overlooking hippos wallowing in the Zambezi with the smoke of Victoria Falls in the background. Just perfect! The afternoon was spent at leisure and sundowners were enjoyed by the river as we listened to a local expert talk about the adventures of David Livingstone. A private dinner was served on the lawn and whilst we were serenaded by beautiful live music, a cohort of zebra was quietly grazing just a few metres away! Sun International supports several Social Responsibility Projects around Africa. In Livingstone, we visited a local orphanage they help fund, helping out with some menial tasks and playing with the children they just loved taking photos on our digital cameras and seeing themselves instantly! It was a memorable and emotional experience. On a lighter note, we were treated to a helicopter flight over Victoria Falls in the afternoon a must do if youre takingan incentive group to the area. You can also do microlite flights if your delegates are the adrenalin-seeking type! After a quick refresh we transferred to the Royal Livingstone Express for dinner on an old Colonial-style train complete with crystal glasses another fantastic experience, chugging along the tracks with buffalo and giraffes outside the windows! This would be an even better experience if you had exclusivity for a group of 80-90pax. The following day we took a trip to one of the most famous game parks in Africa, Chobe National Park in Botswana. Now we were really on safari - Chobe is renowned for its elephant population, and they were everywhere! Travel Motives uses great vehicles which are open but have a roof so offer shade in the 40+ degree temperature, and have tiered seating so those at the back can see over the heads of those in front. This was a real African adventure with wildlife everywhere you looked! After returning to the hotel and a quick refresh we were transferred to our spectacular dinner setting in a local gorge. Pre-dinner drinks were enjoyed whilst watching the sunset over the gorge with traditional drumming and dancing in the background. After a simple but delicious dinner served under the stars, each of us was provided with our own drum and learnt how its done! Then it was back to South Africa and some sort of reality. We had a lively dinner celebration in one of Cape Towns newest and hippest venues, the Grand Caf I would definitely recommend using this venue for a gala dinner or welcome cocktail party, a unique venue with its own beach and amazing food. In Cape Town we stayed at the Table Bay Hotel, a beautiful property reflecting the local culture, with the comfiest beds and the most amazing breakfast buffet Ive ever seen! We werent so lucky with the weather in Cape Town and our scheduled cable car ride to Table Mountain and helicopter flight over the peninsula were unfortunately cancelled. We were able to visit the winelands though and indulged in a private champagne, wine and cheese tasting at Haute Cabrire vineyard in Stellenbosch. The final leg of our wonderful journey was Business Class V-Australia back to Melbourne and Sydney - exhausted from our itinerary but snuggled up under my doona in the flat bed after one last glass of champagne and slept like a baby... We had only seen a very small part of what this amazing continent has to offer, but all in all, it was an unforgettable 8 days. Trust me, you really should consider this remarkable destination when planning your next incentive group if you still need convincing, contact Veritas now!

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Date posted: 2010-12-01 | Comments(0)


The greatest incentive program destination!

I dont know how many event management companies in Sydney have people as crazy as me, but I am always looking for exciting destinations for Incentive Programs even when Im on holidays! Last month I spent 10 days in Egypt as part of a month long vacation. The country is hot, crowded, somewhat in a time-warp in terms of facilities and yet in contrast to what many Australians think, Egypt is an ideal location for an incentive trip. As an event manager, I am constantly travelling to exciting locations all over the world and I have to say Egypt is the most gobsmackingly fascinating place Ive ever been to. The Pyramids, the people, the food, the sights, sounds and the sunsets make it something quite unique. Ive had so many people ask me But didnt you get sick from the food? which is a major concern for an event, but I can honestly say that out of the 35 people in our tour group, none were struck by the belly bug. The food was very good as well as interesting and there was plenty of it too much in fact! Our visit included the Pyramids (no photograph can prepare you for the grandeur of these), Cairo Museum (all King Tuts tomb stuff is here unbelievable), Luxor (the Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple wow), a lazy cruise ship trip down the Nile (nothing like what youd expect very lush landscapes and quite beautiful although it does get a bit smoggy in some places where there are about 270 ships chugging back and forth on a small stretch of water), Aswan (more temples and a really great bazaar), and finally Abu Simbel (simply breathtaking). Youd travel to many places in the world just to see one amazing sight, but in Egypt you get half a dozen or more for the price of one. Egypt definitely has the market cornered when it comes to WOW, and when Veritas are planning an event or an incentive group trip we insist on WOW to the max.

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Date posted: 2010-11-19 | Comments(0)


Have you considered a breakfast event?

Its often a challenge to secure attendance figures for your meeting, conference or event, and particularly so in uncertain economic times. Companies are sometimes reluctant to invest money in sending their employees to national or international events and often in times like these, we find that a client who might usually hold a larger national or international corporate event, conference or meeting chooses to hold a greater number of smaller events locally. But you cant rest on your local laurels! Even with a more geographically captive audience, you still need to consider your attendees when scheduling your event be sure to hold it in the most convenient location and at a convenient time to maximise the number of attendees on the day. You will almost always have a small percentage of no-shows on the day of your event or meeting (unless youre very lucky!) One useful way of minimising no-shows is to hold a breakfast event. Often people have the intention to attend a lunch meeting or evening function but the work day gets away with them or something comes up in the office that means they cant get away. A breakfast event held before or at the beginning of the work day means less chance of distraction for potential guests. Just make sure the coffee is good and hot! Guests will appreciate a good brekkie to set them up for the rest of the work day ahead...

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Date posted: 2010-07-15 | Comments(0)


Our Top Themed Restaurants in Sydney

Theres nothing I love more than a good themed restaurant and Sydney is teeming with them. Themed restaurants make a wonderful location for a corporate lunch, private group or Gala dinner as ambiance and dcor is already established. Almustafa Lebanese restaurant in Glebe is top on my list of fantastic themed restaurants. Every inch of the room is decorated in rich golds, vivid colours and an eclectic mix of artifacts. The upstairs cushion room is a great location for a private group dinner. The tables are low and patrons sit on comfortable cushions on the floor. Be sure to go Friday or Saturday and see the Belly Dancing show. (www.almustafa.com.au). I highly recommend you go there with a group of at least 6 and ordering the banquet menu. Mantra is an over the top Indian restaurant in Neutral Bay which I also visit frequently. Mantra drips with Bollywood glam and the air is filled with heady spices and traditional music. If you are with a largish group make sure you call ahead and book a private dining area which is curtained off by chiffon drapes that make you feel like you are Indian royalty. Again there is Belly Dancing on the weekends. (www.mantraindian.com.au) Had to Happen Mexican restaurant in North Sydney (www.hadtohappen.com) is another good one. The dining area is painted in clashing colours and bright cactus plants with sombreros hung from them. The restaurant is often booked out for private events and parties. Bring your appetite with you and attempt to become a Had To Happen member by partaking in the fajita eating challenge! One of my colleagues nailed it at our last staff event! Machiavelli in the heart of Sydney is an Italian restaurant institution where the portions are large and the characters even larger! (www.machiavelli.com.au). The room is designed to look like a typical Italian delicatessen however the clientele that frequent the restaurant are anything but typical. Machiavellis is listed on The Bulletins 100 Most Influential Australian dining locations and was recently mentioned on the 7.30 Report as the place the powerful and elite mix. Ham, salami and bread hang from the ceiling and photographs of celebrity patrons line the walls. You could be forgiven for forgetting to order your meal as you put names to the faces on the wall and scan the room searching for a glimpse of someone famous and important. If you have to organise a group dinner on a limited budget, I would chose Juju in Kings Cross. This is very authentic Japanese Izakaya style in food and ambience and has karaoke booths available for those who fancy themselves as sing stars. Juju is one of those places where you are transported to the country of origin with traditional sunken seating and ornate artwork. So next time you are planning a dinner event with a real WOW factor give one of the above a go - they never fail to impress.

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Date posted: 2010-02-01 | Comments(0)