This is a throwback story of a time my whole incentive travel team as well as the hotel banquet staff worked so in sync together it was almost too smooth.
Picture it – Early December on the beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, right in front of the Nao’s restaurant of the Paradisus Palma Real. The sand is still warm from the hot day, the air is crisp, and the moon is shining bright without a cloud in sight. The décor company had just finished setting the beach, and the banquet staff had set the final water glass down on the table. The party was ready to start. This all came together 15 minutes before guests were to set to arrive to an open-air beach party complete with a live band.
As we began to put our final check lists away into our bags, we were all hit with some water. Being close to the beach, we all assumed it was just some sea wash that caught the right gust of wind until, out of nowhere, this little cloud of doom appeared and torrential downpour ensued. My colleague Mattie and I pressed ourselves against a wall with a small awning just big enough to keep us mostly dry while we stared out at the table settings that were just placed so perfectly. If you have ever been to the Caribbean, you are well aware that it may rain even though every meteorologist said you had 0% chance of rain all day. For the 15 minutes before everyone was supposed to be there, it rained so hard that the wine and water glasses had begun to overflow. Sheer panic was the only emotion you could read from the face of the travel and event planning team. As soon as it stopped, we all ran out to assess exactly how bad the rain was.
It was bad.
Without skipping a beat, the banquet manager assures us that it’s no problem and begins giving commands to his team and whistling. We all stood there in awe as we watched our soaking wet party get transformed into a dry again dinner beach party. Within 45 minutes of the last rain drop, the team at the Paradisus Palma Real had flipped everything around as if nothing happened. All while guests enjoyed the bar in the sand.
Morale of the story is that, as corporate event and meeting planners, we think we can prepare for everything. This is not always the case and, instead of getting angry about what’s going or gone wrong, we have to try to find a way to make it a positive. I doubt that team at the hotel would have been very receptive if we all just screamed and blamed them for the rain. Just take a deep breath, analyze what is going on, and move towards the most positive result as efficiently as you can with a smile. You might surprise yourself and I guarantee your client will look beyond the disaster if you handle it with confidence and a grin.