Arkadia and Corporate Event Management

After 16 years in this business and thousands of weddings under our belt, we know that assumption is a mistake that can cost dearly. When we took our first, baby steps in our business, we dreamed only one dream – to create the best wedding planning company in Serbia. We didn’t think about clients of any other kind, nor did we plan to turn to, as it is said today, a “niche” in the event industry. However, we work, build, and dream our dream today with the same passion as back then, and the energy that propels us seems to reach many. And so, change knocked on our door.

You never know who will knock on your door.

An unexpected guest came to visit us. Someone who was already our client but didn’t need a wedding cake, a registrar, a church, or a wedding dress. He found himself in trouble organizing an international event in which six parallel events had to take place simultaneously:

1. Lecture
2. Fine dining lunch
3. Photography and cocktail
4. Second part of the lecture
5. Competition
6. Gala dinner.

This guest didn’t need a wedding. He needed the Arkadia team. The team that he knew could organize what others find impossible. The team that always gives more than 100%. The team that doesn’t give up until it creates a precious memory for the client. And the team that always adds a touch of human warmth, emotion, and a smile. In search of that emotion, our unusual guest came, the regional company Strauss Adriatic, a branch of the multinational Strauss Group that gathers numerous “food & beverage” brands worldwide, including our famous Doncaffe brand.

The annual global conference is always organized in a different country, and for 2018, Belgrade was chosen. The national branch of the company was tasked with organizing the entire happening. The STRAUSS COFFEE 2018 CLG MEETING conference was an opportunity for colleagues from around the world to gather, meet, exchange experiences, gain insights into future plans, and socialize. All packed into one day in six different formats for 120 top managers, CEOs, owners, and directors of the company.

A wedding is a “small baby.”

After a detailed briefing from the client, we realized we faced several challenges:

1. The event requires serious logistics.
2. Six different formats within the conference demand that everything happens in one space.
3. There aren’t many spaces in Belgrade that can meet this requirement.
4. The fine dining concept is a special mini-project.
5. Organizing a competition in making espresso coffee is a separate mini-project.

We found a logistically suitable space at the Kopernikus raft. Thanks to the three-level raft concept, we could ensure the parallel sessions’ maintenance and arrange them properly. Six different formats determined that we only rented Kopernikus as a space and organized all the logistics externally. To coordinate everything that needs to happen during the conference in terms of time and space, a part of the Arkadia team was responsible for creating detailed “floor plans” for each individual event, from the first lectures to the gala dinner with music and networking entertainment. Each plan was fully adapted to its event and suitable for its purpose, yet flexible enough to easily transform the same space for something else (which sometimes meant bringing in tables and chairs, adjusting the band, and so on). The preparatory actions of the entire Arkadia team involved anticipating every possible scenario and every detail that might be needed on the raft to ensure the conference ran “smoothly.”

The Kopernikus raft does not have its warehouse space, which posed a particular challenge for organization. Therefore, a crucial part of the project was the daily optimization of all organizational steps in several directions:

1. Continuous daily assessment of what has already been procured and provided.
2. Microanalysis of each step within the six individual events.
3. Constant check of everything that needs to be placed at a certain position on the raft at a specific time.
4. What is taken out and brought in later within each of the six events.
5. Where everything is delivered and stored so that it is easily accessible to the Arkadia team and simultaneously does not interfere with movement or the eye.

The request for excellent service during the gala lunch and dinner required additional attention in conditions where the space is on the river and does not have its restaurant service. The task involved bringing all the inventory “from a tiny glass to a toothpick.” A special requirement was that part of the food is prepared on the spot. At that moment, Kopernikus did not have its kitchen, so we secured a mobile kitchen to be brought to the venue, where the head chef prepared a gastronomic performance for the conference participants.

Masters of all trades.

Our biggest challenge was the competition in making espresso coffee. The most entertaining part of the conference. We enjoyed it the next day. When everything was over. After organizing many weddings, we knew that events on the raft look good on Instagram, but behind the scenes, there is a different kind of drama. Everyone involved in this business knows that rafts have their special power supplies, which are almost always weaker than the power in buildings on land.

Professional espresso machines draw a large amount of voltage due to the high pressure developed in preparing the drink. We knew we couldn’t rely on the installation and voltage on the raft because the competition for the client was the central part of the conference. Our electrician diagnosed the installation and voltage and concluded that we needed additional power. To ensure stable voltage and secure installations, a truck with generators was brought to the location. The power supply was monitored by an electrician who spent a full two days with us – the day before and the entire conference day. The end result: stable power throughout the entire conference and flawlessly organized espresso-making competition.

Once again, it was confirmed that the experience behind us is invaluable. Experience directed our attention to an apparently trivial but actually crucial detail – electrical energy. Something that is assumed because it is constantly present. And something that is not thought about. Except when it disappears. And when that happens, the damage is immeasurable. Everything that was done for months disappears, and all that remains is the feeling of failure and defeat. That’s why the Arkadia team solves such things in advance, precisely, and unforgivingly.

The STRAUSS COFFEE 2018 CLG MEETING project in brief:
– 3 months of preparation
– 50 people in the organizing team
– 250 exchanged emails
– about twenty online meetings with the client
– 25 Arkadia team members worked on the event itself

– The workday started at 05:00 and ended at 04:00 the next day
– All communication with the supervisor in the Netherlands was conducted in English
– Organized global live streaming of the espresso-making competition
The STRAUSS COFFEE 2018 CLG MEETING project emotionally:
– Debates and “elevated temperature”: moments and situations when we entered into heated debates with the client about details that we knew we had to insist on, despite different requests, were not rare. Misunderstanding certain steps we insisted on comes from the fact that we know our job in detail and can see what problems might arise “behind the hill” if we neglect some technical or aesthetic details.
– Nervousness: the process of “putting together” electricity and all parameters so that this, the most sensitive part of the entire project, is flawless from start to finish.
– Stubborn or professional: sometimes, it seems to us that the Arkadia team resembles a goat on a plank that won’t move a millimeter forward or backward. But we know why we work like that. All the trouble negotiating with the client and our not giving up on some things ultimately translates into the client’s gratitude and satisfaction.
What happened in the end?

Three months of daily work with the client resulted in the best-organized Strauss Coffee conference to date, according to numerous participants. Our direct client, Doncafa, received ovations and applause for everything we prepared for guests from around the world. From the top people of the Strauss Adriatic company, we received warm words of thanks, congratulations on a great event, but perhaps most importantly, a comment that the communication of the Arkadia team was personal, open, and sincere all the time.

And that’s how it was in the end. Which was actually a new beginning. The cup of coffee opened up a new path for us. Corporate event organization in the Arkadia way. And we started.

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