Volvo Ocean Race 2008 hospitality

Hospitality areas 
At the beginning of October, Alicante was transformed into the sailing capital of the world when a temporary village of 38,000 m2 appeared in the Spanish harbour city. On October 11th, the starting signal of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009, a sailing race around the world that lasts nine months, was sounded. Several events and activities, open to the general public, were organised in the village around the harbour. Among various facilities, De Boer built the hospitality area for the Volvo Ocean Race Telefonica Team that participated in the sailing race and the hospitality area for Volvo Cars Spain as well. A guest column by Volvo Ocean Race director Björn Brännberg provides further information on the race and the collaboration with De Boer. 

Björn Brännberg, manager Volvo Ocean Race:
“Volvo and De Boer, a winning team" 

He's been employed by Volvo for 30 years in Advertising, Sales & Promotion, and Marketing Communication roles. Indeed he has contributed to most departments. Now Björn Brännberg is Head of Corporate Events and Director of the Volvo Ocean Race- known by participants as the Mount Everest of sailing. Especially for this race, De Boer developed two identical, demountable VIP pavilions, which travel ahead of the sailors and are built at every stop-over port for Volvo.

What is the background on the Volvo Ocean Race?
"The race started in 1973 as the Whitbread around the World Race. Volvo was looking for a large sailing event to sponsor and the Whitbread turned out to be perfect. As a result, Volvo bought the race in 1998. The first renamed Volvo Ocean Race took place in 2001/2002 and is now the largest sailing event in the world. Over the course of nine months, the sailors call at 11 harbours all over the world. For the crews it's a battle with the elements."

What connects Volvo to sailing?
"Transport is everything for Volvo. Transport plays an important role in the development of society and the economy. At the same time, Volvo is aware of its responsibilities with regard to the environment. For decades, we have been developing cleaner cars and more environmentally-friendly production methods. There is a reason why Volvo's three core values are Quality, Safety and Environmental Care. These three values are inextricably bound to each other; the quality of the air we breathe, the safety of our society, the protection of the environment... this is one of the reasons why Volvo loves sailing."

What does the Volvo Ocean Race mean to Volvo?
"The Volvo Ocean Race is a worldwide event and reflects Volvo as an international company. The race calls in at 11 different international ports that all represent markets which are important to Volvo. The race is therefore a perfect platform for sponsor activities. We are able to invite our key customers to experience the race and its festivities together with us in the pavilion. Furthermore, the Volvo Ocean Race represents cutting edge technology; exactly what Volvo represents in the car market."

What is different this year from previous Volvo Ocean Races?
"This year, the race calls in to a number of new ports which represent new markets for us, such as Singapore, India and China."

What is the biggest challenge?
"The new course brings different challenges, especially for the crew. Due to the new course, they have to anticipate different weather conditions. In any case, the race is an enormous challenge for the sailing teams. Every sailboat has 11 crew members; 10 sailors and one person who keeps in contact with the media and takes care of documentation. Life on board is rigorous; hard and wet. The longest stretch takes us from China, around the tip of Chile, to Rio de Janeiro. This will take approximately 34 days."

And what is the biggest challenge for Volvo?
"This challenge lies in the new markets. The logistics have to run smoothly. Not only does the pavilion need to be built, taken down and transported every time, it also needs to look as perfect in Cochin or Quingdao as it did in Stockholm or Boston. In addition, new markets are not all aware yet of the magnitude of sailing and the opportunity this event offers as a platform. Therefore the challenge is to invite the right key customers to the pavilion."

What do you personally look forward to the most?
"Alicante, the start of the race. I look forward to seeing the pavilion in action after months of hard work and preparation. All kinds of activities will take place here; dinners, seminars, shows, demonstrations and VIP meetings. Earlier this year, we ran a trial in Gothenburg but the pavilion was not entirely ready. We will see the finished pavilion for the first time in Alicante. I can hardly wait to see all these fantastic ideas become reality!"

Why did you choose to engage De Boer?
"De Boer is a solid and reliable company with substantial international experience and good references. Both their material and their service are top quality. As the course takes us through extremely hot and cold locations, we were looking for a construction that could stand up to all weather conditions and simultaneously keep a pleasant climate inside the pavilion. And we did it! Anything can happen during a project of this size; people become ill, things break or stop working. It is therefore crucial to work with the right partners; flexible and loyal people and companies. I have a very good feeling about our co-operation; Volvo and De Boer form a winning team. I rest assured that all problems coming our way will be resolved by this team, which is a pleasant feeling. This is also why we enjoy working with De Boer."

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