Patrick Watchi in Casablanca
2018 Honorable Mention:
Zoya Knizhnikova in Moscow
The Ambassador role comes with many responsibilities — sourcing venues, negotiating deals, welcoming guests, keeping everyone comfortable — and at the core of it all is being a host. After all, a great host can be that one ingredient which turns a generic evening into something truly special.
A talented Ambassador is able to simultaneously welcome guests, keeping the energy up and the conversation flowing, while at the same time working behind the scenes to secure the more technical aspects of the evening. There’s handling the venue and staff, recognizing both new and old faces, checking members in using our Guest List Manager app, and, of course, getting to know members better. Is the music too loud? Are you on your own and need someone to introduce you? Your Ambassador is on it! A great host makes this all look flawless, and, as with event planning where anything can change on a moment’s notice, this is quite a challenge!
The Best Host category is always a difficult one, since our Ambassadors already are stars at being welcoming and effective at bringing large-scale events to life. When making the selection for this year’s best host, the Global Awards jury considered nominees who continually make an effort to be present and available to members at their events. They also take an active role in responding to member questions in person, online, and on the event walls. Furthermore, the electronic check-in process is smooth and well-organized with easy-to-find InterNations signs and name tags, no matter how many members show up.
Why He Won
One of 2018’s jury members was able to weigh in on the decision to offer Patrick Watchi of Casablanca the winning spot: “What’s striking about Patrick’s events is that everyone is having the time of their lives. Patrick is doing so much for the vibrant InterNations Casablanca Community as both an Ambassador and a Consul. He is continuously paying close attention to each member’s feedback and always makes sure that everyone is enjoying themselves and meeting new people. He takes special care of the newcomers, too. He is a true embodiment of our motto ‘Nobody Stands Alone’!”
Interview with the Winner
Why do you think we chose you as 2018’s Best Host?
Patrick: First of all, I always listen and follow the advice of the Events Team. Nevertheless, sometimes I challenge them and try to defend my point of view, but at the end, it is always a constructive discussion and we reach a mutual agreement in the interest of both parties, the local members and InterNations. I love what I do and never perceive it as a task or duty. I love meeting new people and I like to continuously put people in contact. It’s a pleasure to see InterNations members enjoying the events we offer. In addition, I always take their negative comments after an event into consideration and make sure that whatever made them unhappy does not happen again the following time.
My objective is continuously seeing more newcomers and new Albatross Members at the events. It makes me feel like I have succeeded in pleasing more and more newcomers, because all members attending an event are the best. I also think that the group activities are a good booster to the monthly events. When Albatross Members are happy in a group activity they attend, they usually plan to meet again at the next monthly event.
You really embody the InterNations motto “Nobody Stands Alone”. Do you have any advice for other Ambassadors hoping to strengthen their presence at events?
Patrick: When I organize a new event, I am strict on a few basic points which are non-negotiable for the approval of the venue:
- It should offer a private corner or room with a private access for InterNations members.
- It should be possible to remove as many chairs and tables as possible. Preferably, the venue will offer the “Mange debout” kind of tables (standing table) and stools. I usually plan a ratio of 1/5 (1 chair/stool for 5 persons). That way, I make sure that no groups are created, and everybody has to naturally move around the room.
- I try to negotiate not for the cheaper price, but the best value for money, making sure that InterNations members and the venue manager both get their money’s worth.
In addition, I make sure to
- keep a big team of helpers at the welcome desk, each one with a specific task. Aside from controlling and cashiering tasks, we make sure that the following steps are covered: giving every guest a warm welcome, explaining what is included in the entrance fee, showing where the bars are, describing the social aim of the evening to new members, introducing new members to older ones.
- close the welcome desk after two hours and make a host tour to make sure all members are happy and enjoying the event. I listen carefully to each member’s remarks or complaints.
- take pictures to keep good memories of the event, and show other members who are not coming what they have missed.
- always take by couple or by group photos. If someone stands alone, I make sure to ask him or her to join for a group photo and continue a conversation afterward.
- give extra money to the waiters and venue staff as tips. I make sure the venue’s manager is happy and ready to welcome us again.
How has using the branded event materials and the Guest List Manager app helped you to create a memorable entrance at events?
Patrick: The Guest List Manager is very helpful and speeds up the welcoming process. The branded event materials help to shows precisely where we stand and who we are, and create the good feeling of belonging to a great family. Members are proud to be a part of it.
Congratulations to Patrick Watchi, 2018’s winner for Best Host.
We would also like to recognize our honorable mention in Moscow, Zoya Knizhnikova, for embodying the spirit of this role — being the best host for our members!
About the Winner:
Born in Lyon, France, Patrick Watchi has been living in Casablanca since 2007 and is a true global mind. His expat journey took him to the UK, Zambia, and Yemen — among many others. He has been the Ambassador of the Casablanca Community since July 2017 and organizes one official event per month. He is also very involved as Consul for the DinnerNations, Brunch, Sports, and Arts & Culture Groups.