The Challenge: Seamlessly organising travel for more than 2,000 participants from Sweden to South Korea for the World Scout Jamboree involves first-class logistical skills and experience. Yet when extreme weather and lost passports are mixed in, a whole set of crisis management skills are also required.
The Solution: Gothenburg-based event, congress and business travel management company Resia – who joined the Reed & Mackay family in June – used its well-established relationships in the travel industry to manage those challenges effectively, helping deliver the trip of a lifetime for so many.
The 25th World Scout Jamboree, which took place in August, was one of the largest outdoor educational events for young people aged 14 to 17.
Tens of thousands of Scouts from around the world came together to camp outdoors and take part in activities. This was an unmissable travel experience, with the opportunity to make new friends, learn about other cultures and develop leadership skills. The smooth running of the entire operation was essential.
This year’s event – the Jamboree is held every fourth year in different destinations – is the third time Resia organised the travel for the Swedish Scout contingent. Having first worked with the organisation in 2015, this year Resia had 2,100 participants to get from Sweden to South Korea.
Furthermore, Resia supported with additional excursions around the destination during and after the event. With such a large number to organise travel for, planning for the event began back in 2021.
“We designated one full-time project manager to this event, supported by a couple of other team members where needed,” Resia Senior Manager Groups & Meetings Niclas Levin says.
“We booked 49 groups – with approximately 40 Scouts and four Scout leaders in each group – on international flights with nine different airlines. And we also booked another 200 or so individual tickets with different date and destination requirements. Plus we had to arrange special dietary requirements for more than 400 people.”
TACKLING PRE-DEPARTURE CHALLENGES
It was a feat of first-class organisation. Resia had to ensure the participants travelled across eight days to enable all the participants to take part in the camp and activities. All the Scouts needed to experience the same programme. Furthermore, as the Scouts from Sweden wanted to introduce the traditional game of Kubb – which includes heavy wooden blocks – to their global counterparts, Resia worked with the airlines to check they could bring the game in the luggage.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRAVEL PARTNERSHIPS
“Choosing the right DMC partner to work with was critical, as we weren’t on the ground with this particular event and we needed to be able to book with confidence,” Levin continues. “A DMC Representation Company we work with in Sweden, Travel Collection, recommended KR Hospitality & Events.
“Resia travelled to South Korea to meet them. We chose to work with this agency because of its vast experience with large-scale events, including the Olympics. Furthermore, the owner of the company had lived in Europe and understood the travel demands and mentality of the Swedish group.”
The DMC organised ground transportation, including 92 shuttle buses to and from the airport, hotels and a further 182 buses for the programme’s excursion trips. Scouts from Sweden were booked to visit various areas in Seoul, including the Demilitarised Zone and the Odusan Observatory, and also on trips to the city of Busan.
DELIVERING TRAVEL SOLUTIONS WHEN EXTREME WEATHER HIT
Even a well-planned event can’t foresee unpredictable factors like extreme weather. During the Jamboree, there wasn’t just one, but two challenging weather events to contend with. The first was high temperatures; the second was the threat of a typhoon hitting the campsite. The Scouts had to quickly decide to close the camp and move all 40,000 participants.
“The contingency plan was achieved through a collaboration with the South Korean government and many local suppliers,” Levin says.
”In just one day, 1,000 buses picked up participants and took them to 130 different places to stay in Seoul. We kept in contact with the Scout leaders and suppliers at the new location. This was to ensure the rest of the programme could proceed as planned. We received great customer service from our DMC here – they were amazing.”
Clear communication channels are an essential part of Resia’s logistical strategy when planning large-scale travel programmes. Levin explains how they have separate conversation threads running about air travel, ground transportation, hotels, excursions and the weather.
“The entire time we’re keeping abreast of anything concerned with the event,” he says. “We then had a back-up plan in case we needed to change the travel arrangements for the final leg of the trip, as they had been relocated to Seoul (due to weather conditions). We had to change departure times for the buses taking the Scouts to Busan.”
In addition, on the return trip home, Resia had to step in to sort out several lost passports from the Swedish delegation. “We worked closely with the airlines and the Scouts’ leadership contacted the Swedish embassy in Seoul to secure copies of passports and we didn’t have to cancel any flights,” Levin adds.
A SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME
All 2,100 participants from Sweden travelled seamlessly to and from South Korea, despite having faced a number of external challenges. Resia’s key contact at the Swedish Scouts, Oscar Sundås, hailed the whole event a great success. “The participants were able to have a great time meeting new friends from around the world, taking part in activities and experiencing South Korea,” he says. “Thanks to the great organisation in getting our Swedish groups to and from the Jamboree, it all went well, even with the changed setting.”