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Tales of the Unexpected

The term ‘expect the unexpected’ has been around since the days of the Greek philosophers. But for the professional event organiser the ideal is to remove any probability for anything unexpected and ensure the event is the best ever. But events involve the real world, people, places and possibilities. So what happens when the real world becomes unreal? Here we find out about one very improbable set of circumstances.

Part of the development and training for professional corporate event management is gaining first-hand experience and the chance to put your learned skills and talents into practice. This is precisely the situation that one of the project team here found herself in. Amy-Jo has been involved in onsite event management for many years, is well travelled and been involved in some of the most complex and challenging events we have managed for clients.

A client’s incentive meant some fortunate winners were heading for Mauritius with Amy-Jo at the helm, in charge of her first long-haul event. Before departure systems, processes, contingencies, scenarios and plans were checked and run through. One thing always asked and acted on is “what’s the worst thing you would want to deal with?” For some reason a fear of typhoons was uppermost in Amy-Jo’s mind, along with the usual medical emergencies.

Mauritius as an Incentive Destination. Perfect

Mauritius, being a small piece of paradise on earth, promised the delegates a once in a lifetime experience and a well-earned, sun drenched, dose of rest and relaxation. The one thing that wasn’t expected was rain.

However, it was raining when the group arrived, although in true British fashion this was laughed off, after all, what is a bit of rain? But then a bit of rain became rather a lot of rain and it started to become “a little bit inconvenient”. And the tale commenced. “A day out driving to enjoy the scenery and have lunch in the mountains started very damply. All cars were fully briefed on what to see and emergency procedures. However, part way through a problem arose. The amount of rain had rendered many places inaccessible, danger of landslides had turned into actual ones in places, and so for only the second time in history Mauritius was shut down by the government”. By this time the group had three cars still out and about. Car one was by a road made impassable by a landslide, cars two and three were still making progress, including one driven by an elderly couple still happily trying to find a scenic waterfall and seemingly impervious to the torrents of water around them at the time. Once all were safely recovered there was no lunch in the mountains, but lunch poolside at the hotel instead.

The rain continued unabated, but on the day of a private lunch on an island reached by private catamaran it stopped, for half the day at least. The group headed out, buoyed by the break in the weather. However, once landed it was time to head back - the tide was going out, and out, and out. It turned into one of the, guess what, unexpectedly lowest tides on record and the coral was becoming dangerously exposed. And once back in the boats the heavens opened again. Progress was very slow due to the navigators needing to peer over the front of the boats to plot a safe course and ensure the boats didn’t beach on the emerging coral.

The rain also put paid to the final, pirate themed, gala evening on a small island, featuring an extravaganza and sumptious meal in a sculpted beach. As the boats prepared to weigh anchor a coastguard communique came through taking all boats off the sea immediately! Undeterred, the group had their evening at the hotel, albeit with a sit down meal rather than beach buffet, and their pirate night by the rather familiar pool. The end of things? Not a bit of it. A medical condition did manifest itself in the group, and on departure day the sun shone, allowing for lunch on the island, so what better time for the airport electricity supply and air conditioning to fail?

Memorable Experiences Make Incentive Travel Effective

Despite the fact that the event experienced torrential rain for 90% of the time it was a resounding success. If the hallmark of a successful event is delivering memorable experiences then this incentive event in Mauritius unexpectedly turned the unexpected into something more than memorable. The whole group - client, agency and ground team - came together to overcome the adversity and make the experience something special, if rather different. Thankfully there was no hint of a typhoon.

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