Amway China Leadership Seminar, 2011

Sydney was the centrepiece for one of the largest corporate events of the year, when direct selling business, Amway China, brought more than 8,000 of its top sales representatives to Sydney during January 2011, as part of its annual incentive and training program to reward its great performers.

Program highlights

  • Sydney City Tour
  • Hunter Valley Wine Country 'Carnival' (wineries used are Lindemans Wines, Hope Estate,
  • Calais Estate and Wyndham Estate Wines) Activities included grape picking, grape stomping, wine spitting competition, wine tasting, fresh produce markets (cheese, chocolates, fudge, honey, olives, prickles, raisins, fresh fruit jams, sauces and dips) and dinner at wineries
  • Corporate Charity Walk across iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • business session at Acer Arena
  • gala dinner at The Dome - Sydney Showground.

Martin Liou, Vice President of Amway Greater China, said the event provided a valuable experience for the people selected to attend, made possible only through a well coordinated and uniquely Australian program of activities.

"Amway China’s annual leadership seminars are a very important feature in driving the success of our organisation. We aim for these events to offer an unforgettable experience, and that’s what Sydney gave us," Vice President Liou said.

This was the second time Amway China had selected Sydney as its host destination, having brought a similarly large group to the city in 2005. Vice President Liou said Sydney was an ideal choice, not only because of the iconic status of the city and its huge range of attractions, but also because of its ability to cater for large numbers, air accessibility to the city and the professionalism and flexibility of suppliers.

"We were again impressed by the city’s enthusiasm and expertise in hosting such large scale events. The 'can do spirit' of the locals and the excellent infrastructure made it possible for more than 8,000 of our high performance sales representatives to enjoy spectacular activities such as our walks for charity across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, our wine tasting tours in the Hunter Valley region, and the fantastic gala dinners held at The Dome in Sydney Olympic Park," he said.

"I congratulate the efforts of all those involved in coordinating our trip, in particular the people at Business Events Sydney who took the lead from day one, and the many other companies who assisted and met our high demands.

"Feedback from our sales representatives shows they will carry fond memories of Australia, and they will commend it as a travel destination to their families and friends. Importantly, they feel inspired to achieve great future results for Amway China. We would certainly recommend Australia as an ideal destination for this type of program," he said.

Jon Hutchison, Chief Executive Officer of Business Events Sydney – the organisation instrumental in attracting Amway China’s event – said Sydney was chosen to host the event ahead of competing global cities.

The enduring appeal of Sydney has again been demonstrated by the fact that Amway China selected our city for a second time. There is no doubt Sydney has great facilities and fabulous tourist attractions, but what sets us apart is our world-class event management expertise – this means we get the big things, as well as the small things, right for our visitors," Mr Hutchison said.

The four mega gala dinners put on for the group were some of the biggest corporate gala events ever hosted in Australia.

Blake Harris of the Sydney-based event management company behind the event, Triumph Leisure Solutions, said he was proud to have achieved a unique experience that delegates are sure to remember.

"The event’s scale and sheer volume of people was enormous, and we were given the creative licence to bring to life an extraordinary vision," Mr Harris said.

"We transformed The Dome at Sydney Olympic Park into an iconic Aussie beach fantasy, creating spectacular underwater scenery using one of the world’s largest seamless video projection screens – 130 metres wide and 10 metres tall. Using the help and inspiration of the producers of the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony, giant sea creatures floated from the 42-metre ceiling, while as many as 300 performers provided entertainment, including acrobats, dancers and musicians," he said.

Along with the visual spectacular, each evening more than 540 kitchen and wait staff delivered five course dinners, which included the best of local Australian produce, to around 2,500 seated guests within one hour – an extraordinary feat.

"This event is a superb demonstration that Sydney has the first-rate venues, experience and resources to create unforgettable and highly professional events for international corporations.

"We really appreciate the opportunity to have played a role in this event, which was made possible through an initial introduction to Amway China by Business Events Sydney. That connection was key for us, and we’re incredibly excited by our prospects for participating in similar future events given the valuable experience we’ve gained from this one," he said.

Another important element of Amway China’s visit was raising funds for a locally based charity. The group donated approximately A$140,000 to the 'Freedom Wheels' program, which is a joint undertaking between Amway Australia and the New South Wales branch of Technical Aid to the Disabled (TADNSW) and part of Amway’s global 'One by One' Campaign for Children.

The donation was achieved through a charity walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge – the first time such a large private corporate group has been allowed to do so – with each participant donating $20.

TADNSW Chief Executive Officer, Mr Alan McGregor, said he was thrilled the 'Freedom Wheels' initiative was put forward as a cause to support during Amway China's visit.

"Each year TAD helps more than 400 children with disabilities around Australia to ride their first bike. With help from Amway Australia, TAD was able to create new, prefabricated components to speed up the process of modifying the bikes, including wider seats; stabiliser or 'outrigger' wheels; postural supports; wider foot cups; gloves to assist with gripping the handlebars and a wider range of modified handlebars. These new parts reduced the time taken to modify a bike from over 50 hours to just a few hours.

"With Amway’s help, the 'Freedom Wheels' program has become available to many more children. The funds raised by the Amway China Charity Walk will add a much needed boost to this amazing work.

"This was a wonderful initiative, giving delegates an unforgettable chance to walk across our iconic bridge while raising funds for a very worthwhile cause. It also gave the 'Freedom Wheels' initiative terrific exposure beyond our borders. This is a great example for other organisations to follow," Mr McGregor said.

Accomplishing all these enormously complex undertakings for the large Amway China group required a significant amount of behind-the-scenes support which was offered by Business Events Sydney. These services included:

  • liaising with customs, immigration, quarantine and Sydney Airport to provide smooth visa applications and check in processes for the group
  • consulting with government agencies and traffic and transport authorities to facilitate the Sydney Harbour Bridge charity walk
  • facilitating introductions and negotiations with local tourism industry contact networks
  • providing welcome banners and packs, giveaways, mementos and shopping coupons

This support was particularly critical for the company tasked with the mammoth job of coordinating the travel arrangements for the Amway China group, PTC Express Travel. Managing Director of PTC Express Travel, Mr Christopher Zhang, said the connections and support provided by Business Events Sydney significantly eased the planning process.

"Managing the travel arrangements for more than 8,000 people, in four waves over two weeks, is no easy task," said Mr Zhang.

"The help provided by Business Events Sydney in connecting us with the right people from the various government agencies was vital in our planning. This included everything from coordinating the meetings with relevant departments to stage the Charity Walk, through to ensuring that such a large quantum of people could be smoothly and quickly checked in at the airport, processed through customs, immigration and quarantine, and seamlessly transported to hotels and other destinations.

"Being connected with the right people made it much easier for us to plan and execute the logistics perfectly, to ensure delegates enjoyed a seamless and unforgettable journey," he said.

Business Events Sydney’s Mr Hutchison said that while this event provided a valuable experience for Amway China’s staff, it also provided significant benefits to the New South Wales economy.

"The event brought more than $33 million to New South Wales through accommodation, travel, sightseeing and shopping. It will also serve to increase tourism, adding to China’s already strong position in Australia’s top three tourism markets," Mr Hutchison said.

"We believe that the superb experience provided has cemented Sydney’s status as a leading international destination for business events. We look forward to welcoming future groups of Amway China’s top performers, as well as many other major global companies," he said.

Living the Hunter Wine Culture

One of the highlights of the 2011 Amway China Leadership Seminar program was a relaxation afternoon at the Hunter Valley Wine Region, Australia’s oldest wine region. The brief was to create a quality regional lifestyle experience with emphasis on fun, team bonding and wine education.

It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for Hunter Valley Events, the company tasked with the challenge to pull together a customised, unforgettable programme for over 8,000 delegates. This was not just a simple day tour but an event revolving around a series of afternoon activities staged over eight separate days of 1,000 visitors per day.

A fleet of 25 coaches transported guests each day, with high achievers being rewarded with helicopter transfers to and from Sydney. Each day, a simultaneous and identical event for between 250 and 400 delegates was held at four separate winery venues, which were all specifically selected to not just cater for the numbers, but also their ability to deliver a high quality three course meal, within a tight time period whilst maintaining the level of service expected for a prestigious incentive group like Amway.

Each venue hosted four different event activities prior to dinner, which included –

  • Wine Game Marquee – fun team bonding activities such as grape stomping, grape throwing, wine spitting and the unique experience of picking grapes to go into an Amway branded gift wine (sent to guests upon their return – once it was hand crafted by a local winemaker).
  • a fully themed fresh Produce Market with tastings and sales of local Hunter Valley gourmet delights, packaged with Amway China’s corporate branding
  • a themed Chill Out Cafe Lounge to relax, with ice cream, juices and refreshing afternoon tea – living the Aussie lifestyle
  • a tutored Wine Class, co-hosted by a local wine educator and translator, to ensure that the wine education was understood and enjoyed

Entertaining Australian cultural experiences were staged at each venue; the always popular Koalas and other wildlife, Aboriginal Artists and Dancers and lively country bands which got participants dancing away and immersed in the fun.

Dinner was a celebration of seasonal Hunter Valley produce, prepared by renowned local chefs and paired with fine Hunter wines. Tables were regionally themed with large 'grape mounted' centrepieces (15kgs of grapes x 130 tables built each event day). Amway delegates had a ball of a time 'demolishing' the centrepieces each day and took with them an edible souvenir of the 'golden grape' from the Hunter Valley.

To ensure that the whole experience was staged smoothly, Hunter Valley Events orchestrated the event infrastructure that allowed for Amway to implant their staff and tour guides into the programme. Two full days of onsite training were carried out by Hunter Valley Events using a 'mock-up' event. Translators were briefed and trained in all experiences. Themed Mandarin directional signs were posted and delegates were given translated activity guides.

"2011 was one of Amway China’s most successful ever leadership seminar as rated by their delegates, with The Hunter Valley activity rated as one of the most highly enjoyable components.

"Hunter Valley Events is grateful for the opportunity to be part of this massive programme. Such an applauded outcome would not be possible without the work by Business Events Sydney to win this repeat business for Sydney. We were able to showcase a taste of NSW regional products which many Chinese visitors would not typically experience. The 'wow' was definitely achieved," said Gus Maher, Director of Hunter Valley Events.