Life at FCTG is centred around our culture of celebration. Reward & Recognition is an integral part of our recipe for success, so we recognise achievements throughout the year, but the pinnacle of recognition for a job well done is our infamous Global Gathering event.
Held annually each July, Global Gathering has been embedded for 35 of our past 40 years (bar the two years COVID-19 stopped the fun… but we don’t like to talk about that). It is an event that celebrates the best of the best – those front-end selling consultants and support staff who exceeded targets and KPIs to be considered the top performers in our company. Across the world, our top performers converge in a city for the ultimate 72 hours of fun…. a night-before party (don’t peak too soon…), an inspiring half-day conference, and a gala awards night with all the trimmings and the must-have after-party.
So, in celebration of our 40th milestone, we thought we’d reflect on 40 of the best moments from Global Gathering.
1. The time that kicked it all off (Gold Coast, 1987)
Our first-ever Global Ball was held in 1987 on the Gold Coast. Dressed to the nines with big shoulder pads and even bigger hair, the event absolutely screamed the 80s. However, we weren’t as organised as we have always been. CEO of Supply Melanie Waters-Ryan recalls being at this event. "Back then we were so disorganised that we ended up roaming the streets for ages trying to find a restaurant for 30 people,” she said.
2. The time with the presidential address (Hawaii, 2017)
Bill Clinton was literally one of the most powerful men in the world for 8 years. As anyone who had the pleasure of listening to his talk will tell you, he was as humble as he was charismatic. His humility was most inspiring and given the current debate in Australia around marriage equality at the time, many of our people connected with his story about how it was his daughter, Chelsea, who changed his mind on marriage equality, proving that no matter your age and your belief, you can change and make a difference.
3. The time we couldn’t get Kylie out of our heads (Berlin, 2018)
Years of rumours finally came true when Kylie Minogue graced the Global Gathering stage in Berlin in 2018.
“For 17 years I was saying it was Kylie and then BOOM it was. She was epic!” says Aaron (Corporate Traveller, Canada).
4. The time the girls just wanted to have fun (Paris, 2011)
In 2011 Cyndi Lauper took us on a musical journey of the 80s with her hits Time After Time, True Colours and (of course) Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
5. The time we met Elvis in the Little Chapel (Las Vegas, 2019)
The name Elvis Presley is synonymous with Las Vegas and by 2019 so was our Global Gathering… so it was only fitting that we had an Elvis impersonator and a Little White Chapel at our Friday night Flight Fest. Luckily no secret weddings happened on our watch – at least not this time.
6. The time with the dancing potatoes (Dublin, 2007)
Because what is more fitting than Irish dancing potatoes? With a side of Guinness of course.
7. The time in Bali when the tables collapsed (Bali, 2000)
“My favourite memory is in Bali... we were all dancing on the tables and they started collapsing. Security came and moved us onto tables that were sturdier. That’s the kind of security we like at a GG.” – Phil (Leisure Product, USA).
8. The time with our first big star (Dublin, 2007)
Bob Geldof was one of the first big stars we had speak at a Global conference. The atmosphere was electric as he spoke from the heart, pacing up and down a small stage in a Dublin hotel, talking about poverty and how we allow children to starve to death in this day and age.
9. The time with the lost red convertible (Gold Coast, 1990)
At the company's third-ever Global event, Joell Ogilvie was the Top Consultant and, in those days, you used to win a car (yes, very Oprah). Joell was presented with her award on stage and there was just one part missing...the keys to her brand new, red convertible Ford Capri. No one knew where they went, and no one could find them.
Joell woke up the next morning eagerly anticipating that FC would deliver her red convertible to her. By lunchtime, she grew too impatient and called Jim Goldberg, then Director, and he had no idea where the keys were so suggested she call the restaurant. Joell waited for the manager to call her back, and the manager tracked down the barman who locked up the venue the night before. They had lost jackets, a few handbags... but not a set of keys!
Eventually, Joell gets another call from the venue; they've found the keys! But now, where's the car? Joell collected her new keys and walked through a very large carpark in search of her red Capri. It took 15 minutes, but she found it and after a 36-hour wait she finally got to cruise in her convertible Ford Capri.
Skroo and Joell in 1990.
10. The time with the wrecking ball (Macau, 2014)
Simply put, "that visual will remain with me until I die," says Chris Galanty (CEO Corporate). Anyone who saw Miley Cyrus in her Wrecking Ball film clip will know how awkward it made them feel. So you can imagine how much worse it got when Tom Walley, Global MD for Corporate Traveller and now one of our Flight Centre captains, donned a chesty bonds singlet and tried to emulate the pop princess. It was less artistic, more sexual...if that was even possible.
11. The time with Mr Worldwide in Cancun (Cancun, 2013)
Is there anyone more fitting than Pitbull performing in Cancun? Preceded by Roger Sanchez the night before, GG2013 was filled with great music, great vibes and was definitely one to remember.
"This was the first global ball I have ever attended it was just amazing, I met so many great people from around the world.” – Christina (Clientbank Global, USA).
12. The time we broke the world record for Toga Party (Vegas, 2010)
The insane toga party on Friday night in Vegas signalled the birth of the #flightfest (our night-before pre-party) we now eagerly anticipate every year.
13. The time you could’ve heard a pin drop (Paris, 2011)
It was question time during Michael J. Fox's keynote address in Paris in 2011. Fox was very publicly battling Parkinson's and an employee from our Brisbane HQ stood up with the microphone. In a room filled with 3000 people, he then proceeded to announce, for the very first time, that he was also personally battling Parkinson's. As anyone there can recall...you could've heard a pin drop.
14. The time we fell through the stage (Macau, 2014)
On his way up for his win for the most profitable store in 2014, Team Leader Matthew (Flight Centre, UK) was too caught up in his moment to realise that the stage ended right where he was about to step. Luckily, no one was hurt and everyone including Matthew was able to laugh it off.
15. The time with the monsters (Macau, 2014).
Monster Macau might have been our most dedicated theme yet. Complete with a monster-themed boarding pass for Flight FCGOO on airline Monster Scareways.
We also swapped out our conference shirt for a monster onesie. Surely this is another world record broken? We’re unofficially calling it.
16. The time with the buffet breakfast and ballgowns (Thailand, 2004)
Because priorities right? Unfortunately, no snaps were taken, but the party was so good in Thailand ’04 that revellers were at the morning after’s buffet breakfast still in their ballgowns and suits!
17. The time we swam at 2 am in the clouds (Singapore, 2016)
Known as the best Sunday morning in Global history, is there anything better than finishing off the best weekend soaking in the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands and gazing down on the glittering expanse of the city from 57 levels above?
18. The time we partied on the Champs-Elysee for Bastille Day (Paris, 2011)
The stars aligned in 2011 at the Paris-hosted GG party that happened to fall on Bastille Day.
While mid-way through our own celebrations, party-goers were treated to an extra special experience and found themselves right next to the action with the Bastille Day Parade.
19. The time we stopped Kuala Lumpur traffic (Kuala Lumpur, 2005)
The events team really stepped up their game this year and managed to pull off possibly the most grand-scale manoeuvre in GG history (and it wasn’t even planned). Since we were running late to our conference Kuala Lumpur officials managed to synchronise all traffic lights to turn green in our path so that we could get to the event quickly.
20. The time Dublin welcomed us with flags from the airport to the event (Dublin, 2007)
Dublin was so excited about our arrivals, that they donned ‘Welcome Flight Centre’ flags all the way from the airport to our hotel. We've heard of an Irish Goodbye but we have to admit we much preferred this Irish Hello!
21. The day we drank the hotel dry (Las Vegas, 2006)
The same year that the Rogue Traders played was a Global Gathering (and maybe even Las Vegas strip) first where we managed to drink the hotel dry.
22. The time with the gospel choir (Las Vegas, 2006)
This year the Sunday recovery was accompanied by a beautiful gospel choir. After drinking the hotel bar dry the night before (see #21) it was the perfect soundtrack for the hungover blues.
23. The time we mistook the artist formally known as Prince for the real thing (Las Vegas, 2006)
While we have had some A-list celebs attend our Global Gatherings, unfortunately, we never had Prince grace the GG stage. However, we got the next best thing, a Prince impersonator in Vegas 2006. Props off to him as the look-a-like was so realistic that he even fooled a few Flighties.
24. The time we wanted to be Jet’s girl (Hawaii, 2008)
“My one and only time I have qualified for a Global ball and wasn't it a blast. Qualified as a team-best way to go. Thanks for the pointers - don't go hard the first night & if you do, make sure you sit in the back row of the day conference so you can sneak out to be sick. Haha lucky I didn't have to. Guest Speaker - Lance Armstrong. Got sunburnt, partied in a nightclub & went all the way to Hawaii to see the Aussie band Jet. Who would have thought #fctglife” – Nardi (Corporate Traveller, AUS)
25. The time we lit up the stage (Berlin, 2018)
FCTG has a long tradition of altruism and giving back, especially to the disadvantaged people in some of the wonderful countries we visit and send our customers to around the world.
Solar Buddy is a fantastic initiative introduced to our delegates at #GGBerlin18. After this presentation, when the conference was over, a lot of people took a few minutes at their Berlin hotels to assemble a Solar Buddy lamp. 2,000 lamps were built by our people in Berlin and were distributed to kids in need in South Africa and PNG.
26. The time with fireworks and Fatboy Slim on Sentosa Island (Singapore, 2012)
"Right Here Right Now by Fatboy Slim is the ultimate Global anthem. The Friday night beach party at Sentosa Island as part of the 2012 Singapore Global Gathering was epic!” – David (Corporate Product, AUS).
27. The time with the Dragon’s Den (Singapore, 2012).
For those unfamiliar with the hit UK TV show, budding entrepreneurs get three minutes to pitch their business ideas to five multi-millionaires who are willing to invest their own cash, time and expertise to kick-start the business. Since our Flightie DNA is built upon an entrepreneurial spirit, it was only fitting that we hosted our own Dragon’s Den at Global with the first one kicking off in Singapore in 2012.
28. The time with the Olympian (Cancun, 2013)
Our guest speaker in 2013 was Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman. As Michael spoke that you can be anything you want to be with a little sacrifice it was his coach’s wise words that stuck with us the most …“Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.”
29. The time with the best confetti crop (Berlin, 2018)
Everyone loves a good confetti drop – even better when it is soundtracked by Kylie Minogue live!
30. The time with the army paratroopers (Paris, 2011)
The Grand Palais was our first (and last) event hosted in a National Landmark Monument – with army paratroopers situated on the roof for extra security (or maybe to make sure we didn’t break anything).
31. The time with the IVs (Cancun, 2013)
Cancun’s sun and heat proved a bit too much for a few of our Flighties (which could’ve been worsened by a few de-hydrating drinks along the way). However, it was going to take more than dehydration to stop our people from having fun. With the help of the event team, our very own IV stations were set up to help people get back to the fun times as quick as possible.
32. The time with Thunder from Downunder (Las Vegas, 2015)
Think Magic Mike but with an Aussie accent? Unfortunately, there was a slight wardrobe malfunction amongst one of the dancers where more skin was shown than planned!
33. The time with the fairy garden party under the Singapore gardens
Because… why not?
34. The time with the college marching band (Hawaii, 2017)
2017’s theme was Big Spirit University and so of course for our Saturday morning conference, we needed to immerse ourselves in the college experience with our very own marching band performance on a real football field.
35. The time when we swam in the Spree River in Berlin (Berlin, 2018)
In 2018 our Friday Night Flight Fest happened to back onto the Spree River so of course a few of our Flighties were jumping (literally) at the opportunity to have a swim.
36. The time with the belligerent blue bunny (Berlin, 2018)
Michael McIntyre and Jimmy Carr are on stage and the call has gone out for the blue bunny to deliver a chair to them. Everyone in the arena watched in amusement as a pretty pissed-off-looking bunny walked the chair to the guests, tossed it at them and then sauntered off with one of their glasses of water. We all laughed and assumed it was part of his act..... it wasn't.
As Louise Schweikert revealed, our blue bunny was a serious theatrical performer who felt delivering a chair to the stage was well beneath him. He was a very angry blue bunny who refused to do it again; our events crew had to come to the rescue with the next chair. We assume the blue bunny is currently terrifying little children at some kids' party in Berlin right now - but at least he has his artistic integrity intact!
37. The time with Thor (Berlin, 2018)
Aka our favourite Hemsworth brother (sorry Liam). There was a pleTHORa of cheering, squealing and we certainly heard more than one wolf whistle. Chris Hemsworth in da haus!
38. The time with the wardrobe malfunction (Singapore, 2012)
Fast and Furious was the theme for 2012. Appreciating authenticity FCM Meeting & Events Producer, Christian, sourced real racing suits for the MCs. However, one thing he didn't anticipate was how hot these suits would be on stage. While trying to avoid any medical disasters, the team decided to cut ventilation traps on the sides. Unfortunately, the problem remained which is when Christian successfully sourced ice pack vests. The vests worked for about 10 minutes...
In the end, the team had to resort to removing the suits whenever possible backstage in order to wipe down the sweat - whilst ensuring the MCs replenished their liquids at the same time. On the plus side, the suits looked amazing and so real!
39. The time we hosted The Voice (Berlin, 2018)
Undoubtedly one of the most talked-about highlights of Berlin 2018 was The Voice of Flight Klub. More than 80 entries were narrowed down to four extraordinary finalists and one ultimate winner. Their performance at the Saturday conference was incredible and you could really feel the emotion in the room.
40. The time we went virtual
For our last moment, we’re shaking things up a bit and flashing back on our worst Global moment. This was purely due to COVID-19 halting our plans to #BringitHome to Brisbane in 2020. So, like the rest of the world, we had to stay home and party on the couch. It was the comfiest we’ve ever been at Global!
We can't wait to make even more amazing memories in Vegas for Global Gathering 2022. Stay tuned!
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