The X Factor
Driven by a passion to connect people with faster, fresher quality food, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises is the largest pizza chain in Australia, and the largest franchisee for the US Domino’s Pizza brand worldwide.
Matthew Kershaw, Domino’s Head of People Development ANZ, says the rally is “the most significant date” on the organisation’s calendar.
“It’s the one time when our store management teams, our franchisees, our head office team and our business partners can all come together and reflect on where we’ve been, celebrate our achievements, and align on where we’re heading as a company. That’s what it’s all about.”
Each Domino’s ANZ Rally has a theme, and this year’s was The X Game, marking the meeting point of culture, mindset, training and teamwork.
“‘X’ is the sweet spot where all of the things that make Domino’s great collide,” Matthew says. “It’s about excellence, execution and expansion – it’s the X factor. That’s what we want to bring to life through The X Game.”
X marks the post on the Gold Coast
This year’s ANZ Rally was held at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre (GCCEC), the largest regional convention centre in Australia.
“It’s always been a dream of ours to bring the ANZ Rally to the Gold Coast,” Matthew says. “The Convention Centre seemed to be the perfect spot to host the event.”
With more than 1,500 delegates coming from around Australia and New Zealand, GCCEC stood out as the ideal venue with its close proximity to two international airports; an abundance of accommodation suited to all types of delegates, from CEOs to franchisees and families; and handy access to world-class beaches, restaurants and attractions.
“For our people, it’s a destination they’ve been looking forward to visiting, where they can find some of the best hotels, restaurants and beaches in the world, all within a stone’s throw of the venue,” Matthew says. “When they finish up at the Rally for the day, delegates can walk across the road and everything’s just at their doorstep. I think that’s really the greatest appeal of bringing the ANZ Rally to the Gold Coast.
“There’s a lot of energy and excitement about this year’s event.”
While the attendees were thrilled to come to the Gold Coast, most of them were blissfully unaware of the effort it had taken behind the scenes to get them there.
The GCCEC team went above and beyond to ensure that this event was able to go ahead as planned – two years after it was originally scheduled.
“This one was unusual,” says GCCEC Associate Director of Sales Sally Hein. “It was originally supposed to be held in March 2020, but because of COVID and the restrictions that came with that, it kept moving – to November 2020, then to March 2021, and finally to April 2022.
“There were different mandates in place each of those four times, and we organised a new event each time, based on what those mandates were. Thankfully, many of those restrictions have now been relaxed, and we were able to go ahead with the event as it was originally planned.”
The menu tasting for the event took place in 2020, with GCCEC and Domino’s working together to design a versatile menu that would suit the vast multicultural backgrounds of the delegates. Two years later, the venue’s food and beverage team ensured that the meals – which included morning and afternoon teas, a stand-up buffet lunch, a gala dinner, and catering for the green rooms – perfectly matched the menu that was initially developed in 2020.
As the date drew closer, Matthew says the excitement among delegates was palpable, which led registrations to increase right up until the event. That’s a good problem to have, but it meant he had to work closely with the GCCEC team to ensure the venue was prepared to host a larger number of delegates.
“Eight weeks ago, we didn’t even know whether this event was going to be happening in person or not,” he says. “We didn’t know whether our New Zealand delegates could get here, or our Perth delegates. We didn’t know what the next set of COVID restrictions would look like.
“We’ve had every obstacle you can think of, and it’s been challenging, but our partnership with GCCEC has enabled us to overcome those challenges. They’ve helped to take the stress off us by being across what all the latest requirements are and what that means for events, and by being flexible and able to adapt when things have needed to change quickly.”
An immersive experience
The flexibility of GCCEC was part of the appeal for Domino’s, as the one venue was capable of hosting the rally’s conferencing, exhibition and gala dinner elements with ease.
The event took over three of GCCEC’s halls, as well as the venue’s central rooms and foyers, which were used to accommodate breakout sessions.
In order to help Domino’s support their partners, suppliers and exhibitors by maximising attendees’ time on the expo floor, a bespoke floor plan was devised to ensure delegates had to flow through the expo floor on their way to the plenary space, providing a guaranteed audience for vendors.
Taking advantage of the venue’s versatility, GCCEC staff quickly transformed one hall from a theatre-style space that was used to host a high-energy plenary session in the morning, into a cabaret-style setup for workshops, and then redressed the space again for the Gala Awards Dinner.
“To transform a hall from a plenary space to a gala dinner in a matter of hours takes precision planning,” says GCCEC Event Manager Belinda Crofts, “but it’s great for delegates because they’re not trying to find a new room and familiarise themselves with a new space when they come back for the next item on the schedule. They know exactly where to go.”
GCCEC also enables clients to brand the venue as their own for the duration of their event. Delegates saw the Domino’s brand from the moment they arrived at the venue to the moment they left, with branded entrance doors, pillar wraps, and banners and LED lighting throughout the entire venue.
“It’s been seamless,” Matthew says. “It’s been great to be able to take over the venue like that, because for me the best events are the ones you feel completely immersed in. And having the Domino’s branding on the doors, pillars and screens, all working in unison, gives you that immersive experience.”
A slice of the action
Ultimately, Matthew says the event was a resounding success for Domino’s – and one that reminded delegates that there’s just no replacement for a good face-to-face interaction.
“There’s no match for the energy you can create when you bring people together into the same space,” he says. “It’s very human – we all want to belong, and we want to be part of a tribe. And for us, these live events are a way to bring our people together and reinforce what it means to be part of our tribe.
“We’ve done some cool stuff virtually. There’s definitely a place for that. But there’s nothing that replaces the experience of a live event, in my mind.
“We’ve loved working with GCCEC to put on something really fun, special and creative. I think our delegates will walk away from this event having had a great time on the Gold Coast, and they’ll go back to their stores feeling supercharged and ready to take their businesses to the next level.”