Three weeks ago today, the 2017 Global Gathering was getting well and truly underway in Hawaii.

Early qualifiers had weeks (if not months) to plan their perfect party outfit, prep their hangover kit and get excited; others qualified by the skin of their teeth and had a matter of days to get ready… but one thing is for sure – everyone worked their arses off to earn their spot at the FCTG event of the year.

Over 3000 Flighties descended on Waikiki for GG this year. They were promised a Global like no other and they certainly got it!

On arrival our Host sponsor, Hawaiian Airlines, handed out beautiful Pareau’s (or also known as sarongs) to all Flighties during registration for delegates to wear at Welcome.

Jetstar kicked off the ride the wave theme with the mechanical surfboard, Sabre provided everyone with blow up beach balls, caps & turkish towels, and United Airlines ensured everyone’s precious phones would be kept dry at the beach or pool in waterproof pouches!

It took four hours to turn the poolside at the Sheraton into an epic Flight Fest, and boy did it open an impressive 48 hours of commarardery and celebration!

FlightFest spread across the grounds of the Sheraton and The Royal Hawaiian and lucky was packed with phenomenal sponsor activations.

Qantas kicked off the afternoon with an exclusive cocktail function for their top 100 sellers from Australia and NZ… their commitment to selling qantas was rewarded with a ticket on the Qantas Dreamliner to any destination in the world.

We guaranteed that everyone would get lei’d at Global this year… and we kept our word.

Virgin Australia teamed up with Delta Air Lines and ensured everyone got lei’d!

Once again Globus showed us how to really Flight Fest and made Mai Tai’s the drink of the day for everyone at their Globus Globar.

Air NZ brought us Kahuna Breaks, Amadeus presented a hair braiding station and Optus kept everyone’s phone charged to take photos – some of which I’m sure won’t see the light of day!

Drinks were flowing a-plenty poolside thanks to Etihad and World’s Leading Cruise Lines and music was pumping well into the night.

It was the perfect combination for an awesome party, and one creative attendee thought they’d record the party from their balcony…

 

Only to have their phone fall 12 floors!

Surprisingly there wasn’t a scratch on it when he fetched it from a lower ground rooftop in the early hours of the morning.

The after party was presented by Sabre & Etihad, headlined by Mark Ronson, and was the perfect finish to an epic opening Flight Fest.

Everyone partied their way into the early hours of the morning, and I sure hope they took GG Ambassador Briony’s advice and packed Berocca because Saturday had a jam-packed schedule and hangovers were certainly not invited!

The Global Conference kicked off bright and early on Saturday morning at University of Hawaii at Manoa with a breakfast hosted by AMResorts out on the football field – the perfect location for the first group shot in over 30 years…

This year marked the 30th Global Gathering, and saying that’s grown a lot since it was established in 1987 would be a huge understatement.

Over the past three decades you’ve celebrated your achievements on an international level; with Global Gatherings being held in Las Vegas, Thailand, Hong Kong Kuala Lumpur and Bali… to Dublin, Paris, Singapore, Macau, Cancun and Barcelona to name just a few!

Considering only 147 Flighties were at the first Global Gathering on the Gold Coast in 1987; it’s safe to say that GG has grown into the ultimate reward and recognition event in the Flight Centre Calendar!

The group shot wasn’t the only first that occurred this year…

The big Global Reveal was streamed via Facebook Live for the first time ever:

Watch the video

(so very excited for Berlin next year – who’s with me?!)

And it was the first time that Sabre was one of our top sponsors alongside Etihad, and they presented the most amazing keynote speaker, President Bill Clinton, to bring the conference to a close!

“Realising your dream involves the input of other people. Life is a team sport. […]. Nobody knows everything,” he said.

“If I had to give you two pieces of advice, the first would be that in sunshine and storm, do what you believe is right and feel good about it.

“And secondly, you should believe that you are doing something good.”

It was one of the most inspiring keynote speeches I’ve ever seen!

Fun Fact: According to the cievents team, his security included 2x sniffer dogs back of stage for the conference but unfortunately could not pet them!

Other highlights of the conference included the Air New Zealand Kahuna Breaks segment which involved some Maori dancers (the JGeeks), Pom Pom’s supplied by China Southern, giant sponge fingers courtesy of Virgin Australia and the release of over 150 LED balls across the audience…

Two big birthdays were celebrated on stage with FCGP turning 10 and FCTG New Zealand turning 30 this year; and Group CFO Adam Campbell updated the delegates on how FCTG supports innovation with a progress update on the ‘Little Argus’ initiative.

Anita Russell from the Flight Centre Foundation showed us how the FCTG family truly embraced the spirit of Kahiau in our community this year by donating stationery to Hawaii Literacy and getting down and dirty restoring traditional Hawaiian fishponds.

The spirit of generosity is alive and well around the FCTG world and in 2017 the bar was raised again, with Flighties supporting hundreds of charities worldwide to the value of $2.9 million.

And the presentation of $20k of Etihad travel to a luck winner. Everyone’s a winner at Global Gathering as Etihad also offered 50% off all Etihad flights for all Global attendees and a +1. AMAZING!

After a fabulous air-conditioned conference in the arena, delegates were released back into the to Hawaiian sunshine. Luckily for them, AMResorts was waiting outside with hand-held fans and American Airlines were handing out delicious ice-creams to cool everyone off!

When delegates returned to their hotel, they had a little surprise waiting for them in their rooms, thanks to Travelport: chocolate covered macadamia – a popular Hawaiian treat.

Saturday night’s black-tie Global Gala rounded this year’s Global Gath\ering up like no other, and was truly the celebration of a lifetime for all who attended.

Emceed by Glee’s very own Jane Lynch (aka Sue Sylvester); attendees filled the room waving their countries flags and banners in celebration of the awards. The atmosphere was electric and the excitement levels were off the charts.

Over three hours hundreds of winners took to the stage to collect awards. Some took to the stage solo, others were followed by their entire teams, and drinks flowed as achievements were recognised and celebrated at scale.

It turns out 300 custom-made pineapples were commissioned to be the centre pieces of each of the tables, but not all 300 pineapples made it back to cievents HQ…

Some have been spotted all over the world in the homes of our Flighties!!

And the night was topped off with an exclusive performance from Duran Duran, with whom 10 lucky Air New Zealand winners got to meet and greet backstage!

Flighties departed Hawaii on Sunday morning, inspired, thankful and ever so slightly disheveled… thankfully, Covermore had given everyone an ABC Gift Cards at registration for an on-the-go breakfast!

They’d heard from our ambassadors that Global was a once in a lifetime experience, they were promised world-class acts and speakers, and they were assured it was going to be the best Global yet.

Global Gathering 2017 lived up to it all, and then some – it absolutely, 100% was the event of the year!

As we say Mahalo to Hawaii and the fun that was had, we set our sights on Berlin – the destination of the 2018 Global Gathering.

For 48 hours, Flighties from around the world celebrated the year that was and participated in a conference like no other.  The energy and motivation that comes from this event into the next financial year cannot be underplayed and it is now time to keep smashing your targets and earn your spot for Berlin.

Work hard, play hard Flighties, you really don’t want to miss this next year.

See you in Berlin!

Don’t miss out on any of the 2018 Berlin action and keep an eye on the Global Gathering 2018 page on Workplace. It is the place to stay up to date and get some behind the scenes exclusive content.

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