There are big events. Then there are colossal events. And "colossal" is only one of the words to describe the remarkable dinner in the desert created by German event agency Uniplan for 16,000 entranced attendees.
Client Nu Skin China—a beauty-products company—wanted to honor its top salespeople with an unforgettable incentive event. The incentive brought 16,000 guests to Dubai for five days—the largest group ever to visit the country.
For the final-night dinner and awards show, Uniplan keyed on the theme of making magical dreams come true—the feat achieved by the Nu Skin salespeople--by creating an outsize oasis in the desert. Choosing a site 50 miles outside of the city that consisted of sand, sand and more sand, the event team developed an open-air arena the size of two soccer fields.
The arena served as the venue for both the dinner and the awards show. The event team not only constructed a 330-by-98-by-85-foot stage for the performance but, in keeping with the "achieving the impossible theme," surrounded it with a manmade lake filled with 265,000 gallons of water, a nod to the Nu Skin "fountain of youth" logo.
The multimedia show that told the story of believing in dreams and overcoming obstacles, inspired by the magic theme of folk tales such as Aladdin from "The Arabian Nights." To make the guests themselves "stars" of the show, they all wore Arabian costumes. Making the show more interactive, the program included plenty of popular Chinese songs so the attendees could dance and sing along.
Large-scale effects such as flame throwers and fountains added drama, while huge projections carried the event's message though the space. The entire production was overseen by an award-winning director who had been part of the team behind the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The show was staged twice, each time for 8,000 guests.
Of course, colossal events often bring colossal challenges. Not only was the desert venue devoid of infrastructure but it subjected the event crew to temperatures swinging from 50 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, sudden fog banks and thunderstorms, and visits from snakes and scorpions. To overcome obstacles, the event team built in extra time for setup and rehearsal, and often doubled up on technical equipment to guard against any one unit failing.
And what about the company's salespeople who didn't earn the incredible incentive? They didn't miss out entirely. The event team videotaped the show to present to them later, ideally motivating them to reach their own sales goals and attend next year's event.