A very diplomatic way to say ‘thank you’ to our guests

The annual National Day calendar is now in full swing here in Karachi, with all foreign consulates taking turns hosting grand gala events in sparkling ballrooms, flag-draped official consulate residences and in many gorgeous palm-filled exotic garden locations scattered around this bustling metropolis.

Recently we provided catering services for 1,000 guests attending Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s birthday party celebration held at the Karachi residence of Deputy British High Commissioner Sir Francis Campbell, seen in the picture above with our team of hostesses. Over the past several months we also hosted and catered the Russian, Japanese, Italian and German National Day events, all of which were attended by approximately 500 guests from the local and foreign diplomatic, political and business communities.

If you are ever lucky enough to attend one of these gala occasions, you will see it begins with a welcome line comprising the ambassador or consul general and his partner along with several key aides and hostesses, after which the guests proceed into the reception area to be greeted by white-gloved waiters (we call them bearers) serving cool beverages and passing around snacks to suit all tastes and cultures.

The last person to arrive at such high-level diplomatic functions here in Karachi (after receiving the all clear from his security team) is the guest of honor, usually the governor or chief minister, at which time the national anthems of both countries are played and we all stand respectfully to attention. 

Then we have the welcome speech by the host, which usually lays out his or her country’s current mood and feelings towards Pakistan’s development needs along with their offers of assistance, followed by a response from the chief guest, who usually pays glowing tributes to the host diplomat and country while thanking them for their support, which hopefully will grow stronger as a result of such high-level “networking events.” 

And then finally we have the ceremonial cake cutting, being done here by the German consul general to Karachi and the chief minister, and then finally the buffet is opened, which always reflects the host country’s culinary heritage enhanced by the addition of a selection of fiery hot curries and Tandoor classics from the four corners of Pakistan.

Having catered for so many of these diplomatic events over the years, my focus has always been fixed primarily on securing these precious accounts and then servicing them, with little thought as to how I could or should consider doing the same for my own business — in other words, hosting our own annual event to welcome and thank our top 500 key accounts and perhaps the top 500 potential accounts from our competitors.  

So now, after a fantastic start to the new fiscal year, which has seen our first-quarter revenues and profits shoot up dramatically over the same period last year, we have decided to do exactly that — give a little back to our regular loyal accounts and guests by inviting them to our very own Avari International Thank You Day in December, at which time we will welcome and thank all of them individually in a very special way, in much the same way our dashing diplomats do during their own National Day events.

A few of the special ways in which we plan to do this include:

  • Inviting them all to attend a gala evening of music and entertainment provided by Pakistan’s leading male and female musicians, entertainers, dancers, models and movie stars, during which we will serve a lavish dinner buffet featuring the most popular specialties from our Chinese, Japanese, European and Pakistani restaurants.
  • Offering 20% discount on all contracted and published room rates during the month of January, or a $20 food and beverage allowance for each night’s stay during that month.
  • A complimentary Avari Gold loyalty card for each guest, valid for the entire month of January.
  • One hundred free lucky draw Avari Weekend stays, valid for use at any one of our hotels at anytime.
  • Two free business-class return tickets to any destination worldwide, courtesy of one of the region’s leading airlines.
  • A high-quality personalized gift for everyone on departure. 
  • And last but not least, every single one of the estimated 1,000 guests will receive a warm and sincere handshake from me upon arrival at the event to say thank you for their continued support through the good times, and through the bad times, because without that loyalty we would have nothing except an empty building and an empty bank account.

Some detractors and perhaps even a few competitors may say this is all a grand waste of (marketing) funds, which might be better spent on other marketing channels and tools. However, my diplomatic chums, my loyal guests, my owners and my team of hospitality heroes will all hopefully disagree and look forward to these annual events as one way of ensuring that the business of diplomacy and the business of hospitality continues here in Karachi.

How do you appreciate, market and celebrate your corporate culture and/or your guest’s loyalty?   

Diplomatic responses, please.