Taichung's 'soft power' in little details and
reputation as the 'City of Smiles
Article provided by Sunny FM
Translated by Erica Lin
Photos provided by Taichung Real Estate Development Association
As the FIABCI 64th World Congress concluded on May 30, participants and the public at large were able to bear witness to the positive results of the extensive preparations and great efforts, thanks to significant media coverage and praise for Taichung's ability to host its biggest-ever international event.
Undoubtedly, the foundation for the festivities, satisfaction and success was a near-overload of extremely exhausting tasks that went unseen by outsiders, including the formation of creative ideas and repeated coverage of myriad details. The Taiwan Branch Congress Chief Executive Lily Chang, who had primary responsibility for hosting the congress, shared many secrets after the event concluded to offer a true understanding of the fact that its success was certainly not a matter of luck or chance.
As Chang noted, "With over 47 countries and over 1,700 participants, the biggest test was how to receive everyone. In particular, we felt even more pressure after visiting St. Petersburg to observe their hosting of the congress after obtaining the authority to host the 2013 congress. Because Taichung lacks large-scale hardware and thousand-year-old historic attractions, we decided to start with our strong point, which is our software. That is, letting all our guests experience the great warmheartedness of us Taiwanese. Allowing everyone to see the smiles on our faces earned comments like 'so wonderful' and 'so friendly' as well as a reputation as a 'smiling city.'"
Chang explains that this reputation didn't come easily: "Not only did we have to consider designated transportation for each and every incoming guest, the reception, handling of medical emergencies and close attention to meeting scheduling details, but we also had even more details regarding things one can't see or anticipate. For example, one person only realized that he had run out of business cards upon arriving Taiwan, so we were able to rush and print out 10 boxes--a total of 1,000 business cards--for him in two and half hours. Another 'mission impossible' was someone who had to hurry back to London at the last minute, and we immediately booked the next flight out with a transfer in Beijing. Moreover, when we arranged tours to Park Lane mall, some participants almost fell when descending stairs. They jokingly noted that this happened because they had been so protected over the past few days at the Congress that they had lost their survival skills. This, of course, was a great compliment."
Guests also praised the substantial and innovative flow of the schedule. Needless to say, the designs, arranged speakers and the standard of artistic performances in all meetings and social gatherings naturally came easy. It was the abundance of neat touches that exceeded expectations and imaginations that had guests exclaiming "Amazing!" repeatedly. The original "Sleepless Taichung", an initial architectural tour of the city, was the most popular event, with many participants commenting on how the midnight tour ended too quickly and their wishes for it to continue even later into the night.
Furthermore, candidate venues for this year's Medal Holder's Dinner included the Confucius Temple, Lin Family Garden in Wufeng, and Taichung New City Government Center. In the end, successful negotiations with Lien Jade Construction Co. Chairman Chiang Wei-lun led to his agreeing to provide use of the high-end private "Grand Palace" residence as the dinner venue. Participants were utterly pleased, with a medal holder even saying that it was an unforgettable experience to receive an award in the world's most beautiful residence.
Lily Chang emphasizes that although she is uncertain whether she will ever have the chance to host another International Congress on this scale, she was extremely honored and thankful to everyone involved in the preparation process, who had done their best to utilize Taiwan and Taichung's strengths to the utmost. The FIABCI will reportedly be using the Taichung City hosting experience as a milestone for emulation at future congresses, particularly its success in integrating the city's government, business and academic sectors and various other organizations and sectors into an "activity that everyone participates in".
Taichung made history at this year's Congress and earned the rare honor of being named a "FIABCI City". In the end, the General Assembly specially invited the Chairman of the Taiwan Branch Huang Nan-yuan, Chief Executive Lily Chang and leading staff members and volunteers for this year's Congress to go on stage and accept international members' highest approval and gratitude. The spectacle of Congress participants' standing, enthusiastic applause, which lasted for minutes, provided a clear answer as to whether this was the most successful Congress ever held.