LOCAL special event management company Carlson White (M) Sdn Bhd is a good example of a team that wants to score. And going by its track record, the team that comprises 12 core staff has scored big.
The companys clientele include big names like Telekom, Perbadanan Putrajaya, KLCC Holdings, Motorola and Petronas and among its successes is the official opening of the Petronas Twin Towers on Aug 31, 1999.
Since the company was formed, it has enjoyed a comfortable growth of 15% to 20% a year, according to managing director Michael Gomez.
And it only takes on an average of four to six events a year, Gomez said.
In January, the company charted a milestone by winning an international award at the Special Events Magazine Gala Awards 2002 held in Florida, United States, for Best Event Produced for a Corporation or Association in the US$250,000 to US$500,000 category.
Special Events Magazine is recognised by US-based International Special Events Society (ISES) as the official and premier magazine of the special events industry in North America.
Carlson White beat two other nominees from St Louis, US and Sydney, Australia to win the award for the conceptualisation and management of events for Ambang Merdeka Putrajaya 2002, the eve of independence day celebrations held in Putrajaya last year.
Themed Reflections, a distinct feature of the event was a floating stage measuring 37m by 24m on the waters of the Putrajaya Lake Club.
The stage was the platform that showcased our idea for (the theme) Reflection. Thats why it was built on the water, explained Gomez.
Winning (the award) is a milestone achievement. It is a first for a local special event management company, but most importantly, I believe, it is a reflection of the progress the industry has made, said Gomez during a function to celebrate the companys success.
The logistics of staging the event on the water was a challenge to the company, which had to accommodate matters such as electrical technicalities and changing rooms. The company also brought in naval architects to certify the buoyancy of the stage and professional divers were on standby during the event.
Creativity is obviously the name of the event management game, as Gomez readily testified.
Im continuously hatching ideas for my clients. I constantly strive to do better than a past event, and come up with new ideas. That is our strength. From there our credibility and track record generate other clients, he said.
Selling an idea to a client is a major feat in the business, he added. Clients want conventional and conservative ideas but we tend to move away from that; we hard sell our ideas. Sometimes we also need to gently convince our clients to be more adventurous.
To the question of balancing creativity and meeting the clients demand, Gomez said the clients objective should first and foremost be met.
However, there are many ways to meet them. A clients objective may just be to entertain but most of the time we exceed the clients objective. Often, clients do not know what they want, so we give them some understanding, he said.
The most challenging part of the business, I would say, is the ability to communicate our thoughts and to orchestrate the event, said Gomez.
Just like a movie director, we have the script, vision and the actors and camera but we have to put our thoughts into all this. We can have a good idea but it is no point if we cannot execute it.
Directing and producing from an idea to the actual event takes a lot of talent and we have a pool of talents to deliver that. As a director, you must know what you want and produce what you created, he said.
Carlson White has also produced events abroad such as Vietnam and Singapore. Future plans of the company include establishing offices in the region and securing bigger projects.
Specifically, we would like to produce one segment of the Beijing Olympics, Gomez said.
Though the local special events industry is still in its infancy, Gomez believes that a lot more can be done and that the company is in the forefront of the industry.
We are in the super league level of event management, said Gomez straightforwardly.
The industry is growing very fast, as we see more venues being set up, more clients becoming adventurous and the Government hosting more major events. (With that), we want to spearhead an umbrella body like the ISES by forming a local chapter to raise the standards of the industry.
Carlson White is currently a member of ISES which has 3,000 members worldwide in 30 chapters representing special event producers. It hopes to establish a local chapter of the ISES within the next six months.
In the next five years, Gomez expects to steer the company into playing a bigger role in the industry.
I see us sitting on many councils and bodies in a consultancy role, hopefully in Government agencies, and assisting the country as it plays host to major events, said Gomez.
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