March 22nd and 23rd 2020
The Event: Birthday Celebration
The Client: Birthday Boy and His Friends, a mix of Chinese and foreigners, all of which are living and working in China.
The Location: Qingyuan, a small city 2.5 hour’s drive from Guangzhou, where most attendees live.
The Duration: 2 days
Go wild and get rid of the lockdown sorrow. The first big event/gathering of the clients since January 2020 (the start of lockdown in China due to the pandemic).
The Task: To create a program that suits everyone including full service in hotel and restaurant sourcing, party planning and outside catering and activities.
The Main Challenge
Ever since April, China lives in the “new normal” of the pandemic era, a stage where social, cultural, religious, and business gatherings or events have resumed with guidelines, like limited size, wearing masks, health certificates etc. Despite that, doubt and insecurity are looming above everyone’s heads. One issue was quite particular in China, the xenophobia. As the pandemic got under control inside, the case spiked outside of China. And new cases in China were those returning from abroad. Even though most of the returning cases were Chinese, people in China would still get an insecure feeling about foreigners. Some businesses had put many restrictions on foreigners, especially in Guangzhou, where a cluster of infections was found related to foreigners. Under this circumstance, the hotel that we chose asked for Covid-19 test results of all the foreign guests.
To make this trip possible, we debated a lot on whether we should go along with the xenophobia policies of the hotel. Some said we shouldn’t support racist policies like this. Some said this would be too much of a trouble. As we talked to all the guests one by one, it turned out it was not such a big challenge as we expected: most foreigners living in the cities already had taken the test either because most of them did travel back from other countries before the border closed, or as a protocol, they were tracked and got tested. Only one of them did not get the test, and he was convinced by the rest it was easy, fast and cheap and would make his life easier. So this challenge was solved and the trip was ahead of us!
Mix and Match tricks
Meeting client’s expectations of going wild was not much a challenge for our team, who are already wild party-goers and fun explorers. The first idea that blinked in our head was to get a swimming pool! Who wouldn’t just want to dive in the pool to get a splash after so many grieving hours indoors? Nothing is more curing than summertime by the pool. And we found a hotel with a perfect outdoor pool which comes with perfect karst landscape. And the hotel was super cool about us bringing our own drinks and music, despite we did not privatize the venue.
The guests had a very mixed taste; some just liked outdoors, some preferred culture etc. In this case, we offered the “free to join” options. For example the first day, we proposed biking in the village, which one who wouldn’t like outdoors could skip and visit a deserted temple.
And to give the event a little bit more wildness, for the birthday dinner we chose a camping site with bonfire (without staying there overnight). So, we have a nice hotel with a pool and an outdoor bonfire dinner, a perfect balance of wild and chill.
To take the wildness to another level, after the dinner party, the guests threw themselves another party on the rooftop of the hotel, which came with a hot spring. It was too wild to describe…
To wrap up the second day, we offered a rafting tour to all participants. The city is well known for rafting, it would be a great shame not to take the opportunity!
The Client: Everyone was soooo satisfied. The birthday boy posted on Facebook,”I feel grateful, blessed, and happy”. Other posts include “still can’t recover from last weekend: a group of friends+ a perfect location (nature + culture)+ the sun=pure happiness. Thank you Dustin for the flawless organization.”
The Agency: The eagerness to travel and to party gave us faith and made us think outside the box. We built a new brand specifically catering our domestic guests (both expats and Chinese), continuing to present the beauty of China despite the borders of China are closed. “Funtascape” with the tagline “Make China Fun and Fabulous”, is a young and more fun-oriented brand, promoting the idea of “travel with events”, “travel with like-minded”, “just have fun”. We are not just surviving, we are adapting, we are evolving and, in the end, we will rise like a Phoenix.