By Marisa Jampathong
For over a decade, the annual Herbalife Asia-Pacific Extravaganza has drawn some 15,000 to 23,000 participants from 14 countries for three to five days of training, meetings, and a big party. We tend to rotate between two cities — Singapore and Bangkok — yet our teams never seem to tire of these destinations. In fact, they now anchor the Southeast Asia and North Asia Extravaganzas respectively as our numbers have grown so large.
As a Thai woman living in Singapore with my Singaporean husband and three daughters, I am equally at home in both cities. But a journalist’s question about why we love these two cities set me thinking.
With such a huge turnout, venue capacity and facilities are obviously key. Plentiful accommodation at affordable prices is important, too. Several cities meet these criteria. So, it must be the overall experience — destination appeal and exciting programme tapping on local flavours — that motivates distributors into action (hence the term “motivaction”) to qualify and return to a place they’ve visited several times before.
What do attendees like about Singapore? A quick poll showed: It is safe, no visa is needed for many nationalities, and airport clearance is swift. It also has diverse cultures where one can find food of all types and flavours. Getting around is easy with lots of transport options. The usual venue, Singapore EXPO, is now even more accessible with two train lines stopping there.
Top achievers often baffle people. We are very serious about business and want the big picture. Through events like the Extravaganza, we can learn from leaders and top producers from different countries and exchange knowledge and business ideas with our counterparts. Yet small touches also impress us. Seeing welcome panels in the trains plying the Expo route and banners and buntings adorning the venue reinforce our pride in the brand, as we gather in our multi-hued T-shirts or national costumes, proudly waving flags. We represent different countries, but are one in fellowship.
The benefits in Bangkok are large exposition venues such as Impact Arena and affordable, plentiful hotel accommodation choices. People are friendly too, and share our joie de vivre. Participants also like the variety of food from different parts of Thailand and the opportunity to shop till very late in the night.
We think of Singapore and Bangkok as being at the heart of Asia, where we are in the thick of the action. Products reflect the country attendees are in, such as tropical fruit-flavoured protein supplements like mango and banana — a thrilling taste sensation for delegates from Australia, New Zealand, and East Asia. Attendees appreciate the lengths the headquarters and host destinations go to in facilitation, such as planning, logistics, programming, and issues like security and crowd control. Organising committee members (such as myself) take care of details like the event agenda, timing, speakers, and topics.
There have been “smaller” Herbalife meetings for 3,000 participants and below, with more host destinations in the past few years, such as Brisbane, Sydney, Seoul, Taiwan, Bali, and Penang. We enjoy Hong Kong and Macao, too. But for many teams, our two anchor cities are still tops.
Marisa Jampathong is an Herbalife independent distributor and executive president’s team member.