It was a crisp October Sunday morning in the early days of FM&A Events. We were operating the first of six waves of an incentive program for a major European auto manufacturer. 130 guests were departing the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in five matched motorcoaches for a tour and a themed lunch overlooking the Atlantic in Gloucester.
We had been orchestrating this program for months. The menus were translated into nine languages. The bilingual tour guides were in place and our client, the head of the German marketing agency, was on the first motorcoach.
I was advancing with our on-site client contact, a young planner from Dusseldorf running her first major program. She was a little nervous. As we pulled into the lunch venue she suddenly exclaimed “sheisse,” an earthy German word. She had just realized that she had left the translated menu cards behind and the guests were due in just over an hour. What to do? The clock was ticking.
We called the hotel and to our amazement our dear friend Bea Flammia, an industry sales pro, was working on that Sunday morning and picked up her phone. She was able to be on her way to the rescue in minutes. Next step? Reach the guides on the buses and add in a photo stop at the Gloucester Fisherman Statue, within sight of our lunch venue. This would buy us the needed 10 minutes! We called our lead tour guide and from our perch we watched as the five buses pulled smoothly off the route and 130 passengers got out and aimed their cameras at this New England icon. We could also see that the German boss was hurrying up the hill on foot, suspecting that something was wrong!
In the meantime, Bea pulled up to the back door, out of breath, and within 90 seconds there were menu cards at each of the 130 places. As the boss strode in the front door, the staff were all standing at attention, their hands behind their backs.
It was not until 17 years later on a visit to Dusseldorf that we revealed to the German boss all the details of that day. He was amused. But for us it was an early and important example of the power of collaboration—the communication and teamwork that is so essential in the interests of creating a great client experience. The same collaborators are still working together behind the scenes and we’ve got your back, sometimes in different constellations, but always in the interests of a flawless client experience!
And ps—we are just in the process of booking another program with this same German company 20 years later!