Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Cross the Street in Ho Chi Minh City

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When our clients ask for a destination that is exotic, challenging, and an escape from familiarity, Vietnam always jumps up to the top of our list. The only thing we love more than Vietnams natural beauty and rich culture is sharing it with our clients.

You just can’t visit Vietnam without spending some time in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, where you can explore underground tunnels and zip around in Vespas. We also have two essential tips for getting across the street in one piece.

Ho Chi Minh City offers plenty of ways to explore the fascinating history and geography of Vietnam. In fact, the Cu Chi tunnels offer the perfect opportunity to do both at the same time. A huge strategic advantage during the Vietnam War, the underground Cu Chi tunnel system has been widened to accommodate visitors who don’t enjoy feeling claustrophobic.

After learning about the significance of the tunnels as they meander through them, guests can sit down for an authentic military-style dinner within a command center. Because this is an opportunity to literally get a taste of history, the food is not gourmet. It’s mostly rice, which is just about all the Vietnamese soldiers had to survive in the harsh conditions within the tunnels.

An authentic introduction to the aboveground city life of Ho Chi Minh is via the peoples’ favorite mode of transport: the scooter. It’s especially fun to ride Vespas, which have recently become a status symbol among the Vietnamese.

The streets of Ho Chi Minh City are flush with around three million scooters, so here are two things visitors have to learn to negotiate these “motos.”

  1. Don’t make eye contact with the drivers. It can create a deer-in-the-headlights effect. The deer tends to lose in that situation.
  2. Move with confidence. I’ll never forget a metaphor that a local used when describing how to get across a busy street. He said to be like a stone rolling across a river. While I’ve never seen a stone roll across a river, I immediately knew what he meant, and it works.

We at GMS encourage you to explore Ho Chi Minh and everything else that Vietnam has to offer. We’ll be posting more insider tips about this enchanting country in the weeks to come.

Taking Chances in Vegas

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When most people think of Las Vegas, they probably conjure images of gambling, night clubs, and the famous Strip, steeped in vice and shimmering with the remnants of lost dreams. OK, maybe that is a bit dramatic, but you get the point.

That type of experience suits many people, but certainly not all of them. When we at GMS host our clients in Vegas, we always organize an unexpected, often thrilling experience.

Take for example a recent Wild West theme party we hosted. The location was the desert of Las Vegas. However, our clients weren’t riding horses. They were riding ATVs, sometimes a bit recklessly, and always with huge smiles on their faces.

Why were they so happy? My guess is that it wasn’t just because ATVs are unequivocally fun. It was also because they were in Vegas, yet they weren’t doing “the Vegas thing”. They were part of an adventure. And whether they knew it at the time or not, that adventure would be an amazing story that they’d be telling their family and friends for years.

Bravery and Bootlegging in Chicago

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A client of ours from the UK knew exactly what he wanted for his corporate event: a gangster experience in Chicago. We threw them a gala dinner that would have impressed Capone himself.

Shiny black and white limousines transported the guests to the giant speakeasy we set up at Gilt Bar in Chicago’s River North district. Men in flashy suits and fedoras walked arm-in-arm with women in long, glittering dresses and flowing boas across their shoulders.

We arranged for a surprise “hijacking” that occurred in the middle of the night’s festivities. Gangsters crashed the party and were about to go around collecting valuables, when the company’s CEO (who was in on the stunt) bravely accosted the lead gangster and chased the rest of them out. That’s when the party really kicked into full gear.

Our client couldn’t have been happier with the way it turned out. His employees really got the ‘20s-era experience that they’d thought only existed in movies anymore.

GMS Slated to Exhibit at CIBTM 2012 in Beijing

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This year’s China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) is fast approaching. The leading international gathering of key event planning industry executives in Asia-Pacific will take place September 12 to 14, and GMS will be an exhibitor.

Our CEO, Hanson Ansary, had this to say about why GMS will be exhibiting in Beijing:

“Our focus is increasingly being shifted to Asia, where we see tremendous opportunities for our industry and our company. Many of our clients keep asking about Asia as their preferred destination for many of their upcoming incentive programs and corporate meetings.”

In a few years since its inception, CIBTM has quickly evolved in becoming the focal point of gathering for industry leaders from around the world with an interest in the Asia-Pacific region.

For our company, heading to Asia is like going back to our roots. GMS was established in 1998 as a leading event planning company in the Japan market. The sharp decline in the business from Japan on the heel of the country’s economic downturn forced GMS to seek opportunities elsewhere—namely, Europe. With the surge in economic activity in Asia—primarily in China and Southeast Asia—we are finding our way back to a region we know very well.

We’re excited to reconnect with previous clients and partners, and we can’t wait to meet many new ones this year at CIBTM in Beijing!

Shifting Gears in Miami

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We have been the destination management company of a Big Three automaker for some time now. Just like a quality car, they are a very low-maintenance client.

The companys inside sales team had been doing a great job, and the executives were rewarding the top performers with four nights in Miami.

Miami’s spectacular beaches, art deco architecture, and one-of-a-kind cultural flavor make it a perfect destination for incentive programs like this one.

The carmaker wanted to thank its employees with a Miami experience they’d never forget. We helped them select The Perry South Beach Hotel, Resort and Spa for its unbeatable location right on the beach. It’s surrounded by Miami’s spectacular dining, shopping, and nightlife. And for anyone who just likes to hang out at the hotel, Perry South Beach features a spectacular rooftop that includes a 110-ft long pool, private cabanas, and a stylish bar.

Early on in the trip, the 44 couples were treated to salsa lessons at Mango’s Tropical Café.
It was a great way for everyone to loosen up, meet other people on the trip, and get introduced to the nightlife of the Magic City.

A highlight of the trip was the Kennedy Space Center, where we toured the launch areas, gawked at the enormous rockets, and met astronauts.

As a special treat for their top salespeople, our client asked us to arrange for a cruise to Nassau at the end of the trip. People took the day to explore the Bahamian capital any way they liked, and everyone slept on the ship on the way back to Florida.