China – The Westin Pazhou was able to put together its largest outside catering banquet for over 4000 guests by engaging the assistance of students and staff from a hotel management school and leveraging the help of sister properties.
NAME OF EVENT: Liby Group’s 20th Anniversary Banquet
CLIENT: Guangzhou Liby Enterprise Group Co., Ltd
VENUE: Canton Fair Complex – Guangzhou, China
WHEN: January 2014
Starwood Group-owned The Westin Pazhou, which enjoys direct access to Canton Fair Complex, was tasked to transform the exhibition centre’s outdoor function space for a Chinese household daily chemical products company’s 20th anniversary banquet earlier this year.
With a lead time of seven months, the brief was to deliver a Chinese family-styled dining atmosphere, produce a 12-course menu for 4000 guests from across China that would reflect the local Guangdong flavour, and have the lunch conclude in an hour for the next programme.
The lunch featured a half-hour speech and an orchestra symphony accompanying the menu, which included roasted suckling pig, braised abalone and dried sea food combination, steamed mandarin fish with spring water, among others.
The scale of this outside catering event saw the need for 120 on-site chefs and 530 extra casual staff, including 462 service attendants and 44 kitchen assistants. As the local casual labour company could not accommodate the number of staff during that time of the year, The Westin Pazhou team found a hotel management school which expressed interest in assisting at the event and saw it as a learning opportunity. The hotel conducted a training session for both teachers and students on campus and on-site before the event to ensure they adhered to the hotel’s service standards.
CHALLENGES & TRIUMPHS
The team faced its biggest challenge of having to serve a 12-course menu within a short time. As the soup had to be served in individual bowls, they were served immediately after guests entered the venue and were seated. All dishes were served within 55 minutes after the lunch started.
The hotel was also only equipped to cater for 1000 people, hence all additional equipment and utensils had to be borrowed from sister properties or rented from a contractor. After a round of discussions and cost comparisons, the team decided that borrowing glassware and chinaware from sister properties located close by, and renting all tables, chairs, and linens was more cost-effective.
Guests were impressed with the efficiency, which allowed them to proceed with their itinerary for the rest of the day.
Working with the hotel management school saved almost 50 percent of all labour costs, compared to hiring from a casual labour company.