Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to seat 180 guests

I haven't posted much this week because, frankly, I've been going cross-eyed with our Excel spreadsheet containing the seating arrangement for the Travelife India Night Gala Dinner on Monday. We have the happy problem of having a venue good for 150 persons -- we couldn't get the entire hotel ballroom unlike our previous Travelife India Night in February, as the adjoining rooms had already been previously booked by other parties, this time -- and a guest list of 180 confirmed attendees. So many people really want to see our guest performer from India, who is a superstar in the world of Indian classical dancing.


So if you do have an e-ticket for tomorrow's free performance, or a reconfirmed reservation for Monday's gala dinner, please make sure you go, as this will really be a special performance that will be hard to come across again. Both days will be world-class performances that Manila has not seen the likes of, and that is very rare to see in Manila or elsewhere. The events are completely booked and there's a very long waiting list. Many people still want to buy tables for Monday's gala dinner and we have absolutely nothing to give. Not even a seat.

I'm still trying to figure out what we're going to do with the overflow, although I did BBM my friends at Dusit earlier to ask them only half-jokingly if they could figure out a way to make their hotel bigger. Our Saturday free special performance is fully booked as well and we're still receiving so many requests that we're having to turn down. Tonight, I finally said, "If someone else I can't turn down calls up wanting a seat, I'm going to have to take myself out next."


Doing the seating for 180 persons is pretty difficult, especially as we have about 17 ambassadors and lots of CEOs attending. It can be a headache figuring out protocol and also trying to analyze who will want to seat with whom, or who will enjoy meeting whom. Fortunately, this is something I like doing and I've had lots of practice, so my only complaint is that it's time consuming and it makes me cross-eyed to go through every name and table. So, as you can imagine, the last thing I want to do after pouring over my seating chart spread sheet, is to get back on my computer. But it's been fun to mix and match people with great success. I hope everyone will like their tables on Monday.

Personally, I enjoy seating my tables of guests best because I already have in my mind some idea of the arrangement. In our own Travelife events, my own top three tables are most crucial as these consist of our most important guests. I place the actual table where I am seated in the very middle and try to have an eclectic mix of persons of similar prominence from different fields. So far, so good. I've been relatively successful with matching everyone up.


At the Gawad Kalinga Ball at the Peninsula Manila last October, of which I was vice chairman, I filled the table with some close ambassador friends, and friends who sit on the board of Travelife Magazine. I deliberately sat my cousin-in-law next to me as I knew I would be away from the table for much of the time, and I didn't want to bore anyone else with an empty seat for a companion.

So, for this reason, at events where I'm organizer or host, I usually ask a good friend or relative to sit next to me. Last February, too, at the first Travelife India Night, my table was composed of various ambassadors and their spouses; and a friend who's editing one of our upcoming Travelife books very gallantly agreed to help me host the table. It was a very jolly evening, and I enjoyed the company of everyone a lot, even if I was away from the table about half the time. My friend was going directly to Nasugbu for someone's birthday dinner that same evening -- an event he also could not miss -- but he kindly stayed till the very last moment that I needed him.


I'm looking forward to the Travelife India Night Gala Dinner on Monday, as well. Another good friend has gallantly agreed to sit with me and help me entertain my own guests who include over a dozen ambassadors spread out over three tables, and some pretty important CEOs. As usual, Dusit Thani general manager Prateek Kumar has personally overseen the five-course degustation menu (so you can expect an excellent meal if you're going), and Ralph Joseph of Ralph's Wine's is very generously providing a full complement of wines and spirits for everyone.

The Indian community in the Philippines has also gone all out for Travelife India Night and all the most important members of the community in Manila are attending this beautiful event. I'm so excited to see everyone in their colorful sarees!


Many thanks, as well, to our excellent partners who are helping to make both events possible. Aside from the Dusit Thani, the Embassy of India headed by H.E. Yogendra Kumar and Madame Indira Kumar, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in Delhi, and Philippine Airlines have been invaluable to making these events possible. PAL now has direct flights to India, by the way, and these are probably the quickest and most convenient way of flying to Delhi from Manila. Coupled with a visa-upon-arrival policy for Filipinos, it's a no-brainer. India is a must-visit.

So I hope you're joining us for our Travelife India Nights if you've already booked. And watch out for our Travelife India Tours early next year!


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