Q&A with our Architects: Sara Halbwirth, Incentives and Special Events

Name: Sara Halbwirth
Position: Project Manager – Incentive and Special Events
Office: Sydney

I enjoy my job because:
Each event helps build professional development whether it is learning a new skill or overcoming an obstacle with an out of the box solution! To be encouraged to go big with your ideas and then to see it all come together is one of the best perks of the job.

The event I am most proud of is:
My favourite Conference event, so far, is Thermofisher Client Appreciation Night 2018. This event was attached to a large conference we were managing with Thermofisher (as a major sponsor) wanting to put on a night of entertainment and networking. We knew we had pulled it off when the main organiser said it had the “best dancefloor we have ever had”. Our ideas to bring in Australian animals for cuddles and photos along with the unique venue selection of the Australian National Maritime Museum, truly helped showcase Sydney to the international delegates.
My favourite incentive was for an Asian-based software provider. This event was a relatively short lead with a large amount of requests including transfers for 1,200 people to a cocktail party with no less than six types of entertainment, finishing with fireworks! There was a strong focus on budget so we worked closely with preferred suppliers on costings and these relationships were very important in bringing this event to life.

Three must-haves while on-site are:
An amazing onsite team, positive energy and a portable phone charger.

My top things to remember when on-site are:
– Whether or not you use it, a Plan B is important – whether it’s to avoid wet weather or sourcing alternative catering requirements. Having a back-up plan gives you peace of mind.
– Keeping an eye on additional costs onsite to ensure you are not extending the budget.
– Always be present and enjoy every moment – it goes quickly!

The biggest challenge in managing and delivering events (in my experience) is:
We work as part of a large extended team with the client and so it is important to make sure everyone is always on the same page as the event comes together. The answer to this is clear communication; not just to the client but also to suppliers who also play an integral part in the event. 

My two favourite venues are:
1. Skyline Queenstown – this venue has it all with adrenaline-pumping activities (luging and bungy), jaw-dropping views overlooking Queenstown and amazing dining areas. It is a great venue day or night and the team are super flexible and reliable in delivering on what is promised.  This venue wraps up all of your incentive needs; be it a welcome function to New Zealand or a final cocktail party!
2. Luna Park – this is the perfect Sydney venue with harbour views and add on extras that incentive clients really look for. It is great for transfers as well; while located on the north shore side of the harbour it is an enjoyable and quick boat transfer from ICC Sydney or the city. The venue delivers a big focus on the view and entertainment possibilities too – from fireworks framed by the bridge to roaming circus-like bands, it is all possible!

Three tips for anyone hosting an event are:
1. Use technology as much as possible – remember that every guest has a device and technology will help boost numbers and interest in an event or location
2. Pictures sell locations and an incentive trip – invest in quality images in order to help your marketing
3. Work with suppliers and venues to dream up out-of-the-box ideas and continue pushing boundaries.

When I am not delivering inspiring experiences, you will find me:
On Skyscanner looking at my next holiday options– travel and working consumes my life, so thank goodness I work in an industry that supports my biggest passion!!

In 5 years’ time events will:
Have even more focus on social media than before, from apps to sharing on social media platforms – plus the bucket list for incentives will become bigger and better!