It happened in Phuket, the beautiful island in southern Thailand. It was a business meeting combined with segments of incentive travels. The participants were agents, managers, staff of the administration department and technicians of an oil company, all Italians. Training and information meetings were alternated with excursions to different parts of the island and the fascinating spots of the archipelago.
We know that those who go abroad, want have time for shopping. Therefore, the program included a half-day off. We also know the importance for participants to allow them to pick up some elements of the culture of the country they visit in order to build up positive memories of the event.
What is the place where it is possible to better captures the real issues of a population? Certainly in local markets. So I organized a team game that included the Thai translation of the names of some vegetables and the purchase of three samples of fruit whose name was provided in the local language.
This simple gimmick allowed pleasant conversations between participants and the natives, who consented the shooting of lots of photos to their smiling and jovial faces and to exhibited merchandise, unfamiliar to Europeans.
The program of the penultimate evening offered the possibility of a massage session in a fitness center with an excellent reputation, before dinner at a local restaurant in the center of the capital of the island. After dinner, participants had free time to do what they wanted, and decide when and how to get back at the hotel not far away.
For the last night a "farewell dinner" was scheduled at the resort, with the projection of photos and movies on the activities of the previous days.
I was in the shower just to get ready for the farewell dinner. I heard the phone ring. It was the hotel manager who asked me to join him as soon as possible in his office. Why? Because the governor and the chief of police of the island had come to arrest two participants.
Of course, I rushed but after picking up my documents and my credentials from the safe box in my room.
In the manager office the Governor was sitting at the main desk. Beside him, the police chief and two police officers, as well as director of the resort. Sitting in a chair was a lady of the place, as small as most of the Thais.
In the waiting room annexed to the hotel manager office there were another policeman and two participants, fearful and clearly uncomfortable.
The manager informed me that the arrest was necessary because the woman had filed a complaint against the participants for injuries sustained and certified by a physician of the local hospital.
"Without doubt, we must comply with the laws of the state where we are staying," I said. But I asked for the permission to speak with the ... defendants.
They told me that the night before, after dinner they went to a nightclub, to listen to music and danced for a while. Then they had accepted the invitation of two local women to stand apart in the hotel, and exchanging partner after a while. Once at the hotel, one of the two investigated could not bring himself to realize – let us use a “euphemism” - the adventure, as he was close to marriage.
The woman that was with him did not speak any language other than Thai. Given the refusal to go on with the “adventure”, she feared not to be paid for the “service” agreed, and began to scream. To avoid noise and fool with superiors and colleagues, the young guests literally pulled the ladies out of the room and away from the hotel, with the purpose to talk quietly on the waterfront and dismiss them for the trouble.
The operation caused a bruise on the wrist of one of the woman, who thought it best to seek a doctor getting complacent and sign a prognosis of more than three days. Then she went to the police to show the medical certificate with the clear intention to squeeze as much money as possible from her “customer”.
I went back to the manager's office and said, "Mr. Governor, as I stated, we must respect the law of Thailand. The police will proceed to the detention of two suspected. "
"Today is Saturday, so I think that we cannot make any guarantee first session before Monday. My group of guests will leave tomorrow, Sunday, to return to Italy. Consider aloud that should the two guests will be judged to be innocent, their return trip would be paid by the Thai government, as the group rate expires tomorrow anyway. "
Then I opened my event book where I note everything I need to manage the conference. The first pages contain useful numbers, including those of the Italian consulate and embassy.
"It is my duty to call to the Italian consul in Phuket, and to immediately inform official of the Italian embassy in Bangkok to give due assistance to the two Italians who are supposed to be arrested."
Then I pulled out my card of the Italian National Order of Journalists and the badge of the European Group of Tourism Press.
"I will write about this experience, and probably there will be an impact on the flow of Italians tourists to the Island. I fear that this incident will cause some economic damage to many local operators. "
"Thinking about it, I will also commit the lawyers of the Embassy to consider the opportunity to denounce the lady who complains about the damage. In fact, I wonder why the two women were in the hotel with the accused. In fact, as long as I know the business of prostitution is illegal in this State.”
Ostentatiously I picked up a $ 100 bill from my wallet and placed it on the desk. "It would be better for many if the lady would accept this note as a token of apology and withdraw the complaint."
The lady snapped immediately. She grabbed the note and said something to the governor. Then literally ran away.
The governor gave me a hug. So did the hotel manager. I reached the two participants and ordered them to make haste to prepare for the farewell dinner that would begin after fifteen minutes. They were tears of joy in his eyes.
The hotel manager told me that the governor and the chief of police were impressed by the level of professionalism for the completeness of the information that I collect - and I gather - before any program in order to deal with contingencies.
This information cover many issues, from mobile phone numbers of station managers at airports, to phone numbers of first aid and emergency services, from useful numbers to report lost or stolen credit cards, to the names and addresses of useful contacts in major consulates and embassies, and much more.
Author: Rodolfo Musco, President of Motivation&Events s.a.s.