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Get To Know Robbie Hoyes-Cock, CEO & Founder Of The F1 Podium Lounge

Singapore will be one big party ground come September 20. The Formula 1 Race will once again make her appearance in the Lion City. Of course, F1 will not be complete without the most glamorous after-party, The Podium Lounge.

CEO & Founder of The Podium Lounge, Robbie Hoyes-Cock (left) with Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand

Marketing In Asia had a chance to chat with Robbie Hoyes-Cock, CEO & Founder of The F1 Podium Lounge as he prepares for the much sought after party of the year.

Robbie, you are the man responsible for bringing The Podium Lounge to Singapore over Formula 1. I am very excited to know; how did it first start?

I grew up in Singapore, went to school here then graduated with a law degree from Bristol University. After working for my father who owns O’Brien’s Irish Sandwich Bars in Asia and then with Citibank – Asia Pacific Consumer Bank (Regional Treasury), I decided to start throwing proper parties from my network back in 2005 under the brand name B-Yond. These monthly events became extremely popular for their by-invite only guest lists, extraordinary locations (never in nightclubs) and exquisite entertainment. In 2009, Peter Mainguy, still the GM of The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore today, invited me to throw a 3-night event by their stunning poolside; which I thought was very ‘B-Yond’ for the duration of the Singapore Grand Prix. That was 11 years ago now…

So you are technically a Singaporean, having lived here for most of your life. Tell us all we need to know about you.

I have been flying the Singapore flag since 1982 when my parents, my brother and I moved here from Athens, Greece, my birthplace, where my dad happened to be working as an accountant for a multinational. I was schooled at Tanglin Trust (where my kids now go), United World College, S.E.A. and then Eton College, where I gained an international scholarship in 1997. I tried law and banking (my brother was a Doctor) but settled on organizing elite parties and now The Podium Lounge is my main focus year-round, although I also run GreatNewPlaces.com (where we manage our 75,000 strong event database) and am a partner in The Monarchy, Singapore’s only quintessentially British cocktail bar and ultra lounge on Tras Street. I’ve been together with my wife since I was 19 and we have 3 delightful kids who mean the world to me, two girls and a boy.

Annually, F1 Podium Lounge hosts a myriad of distinguished people from celebrities, supermodels, socialites to the whos who of the world. Is this something, growing up, you have envisioned doing?

That’s true about The Podium Lounge – from Princess Charlene of Monaco to Gordon Ramsay and from Macy Gray to Lewis Hamilton, we really have hosted a fabulous Blackbook of Royalty, celebrities and Formula 1 drivers over the years. I absolutely didn’t envisage being a party organizer; it was always about being a lawyer from a very young age. However, my work experience at Clifford Chance over the summer when I was reading law at University in the UK put me right off. Everyone seemed overworked, they all looked tired, worked crazy hours and seemed depressed. I figured there were other more ‘entertaining’ ways to make a living.

The Podium Lounge has grown to include other F1 cities including Monaco, Melbourne and Abu Dhabi. How did you manage to bring this amazing soiree to these other places?

We expanded the brand internationally to Abu Dhabi and the Yas Viceroy Hotel (the only custom-built Formula 1 hotel in the world, where the hotel literally straddles the Formula 1 track) in 2013 and were very fortunate to be asked to host Red Bull Racing’s very special celebration for Sebastian Vettel on becoming a 4-time Formula 1 World Champion and winner of the 2013 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 race and season closer. Off the back of that success, we then hosted our very 1st events in Melbourne at Ms Collins on Collins Street and then at the swanky restaurant & club Zelo’s at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. We’ve done 5 consecutive years in Abu Dhabi and are now looking to expand once again to Hanoi, Vietnam in 2020!

An event of this grandeur and scale takes lots of meetings and discussions and time. Enlighten us, Robbie, from the planning stage to the D-day, how many sleepless nights and busy days do you expect from each F1 season?

The Podium Lounge Singapore takes about 9 months of the year to organize. The only sleepless nights are over the actual Grand Prix weekend itself where we literally run off fumes for 3 days and nights. But it’s such an exhilarating experience and I love the challenge of bettering the event each year, no matter how difficult that is. The bar gets set higher each year, which keeps our loyal clients coming back for more each year.

Are you able to run us through how the Marketing campaign has always been for this annual event?

We start marketing The Podium Lounge Singapore each year from when our press release goes out at the end of June and our ticketing goes live on July 1. As Formula 1 is loud and there is a lot going on over the Formula 1 Weekend, our approach is to be equally loud and to be visible across all possible communication channels from digital to social, outdoor to radio, TV to print as well as a more personalized direct approach to all of the guests who have attended The Podium Lounge previously. I remember reading that it’s 10 times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, so a big emphasis is placed on maintaining our close relationships with sponsors, partners, media and of course those 10,000+ guests of The Podium Lounge Singapore each year.

F1 Podium Lounge is so synonymous with the Formula 1 Race event and that stems-out from very good branding right from the start. In your opinion, how important is branding compared to the actual marketing campaign itself?

Branding for us is in the customer’s experience of The Podium Lounge. By ensuring we run flawless events with extraordinary content from music to celebrity, art to fashion, motorsport to acrobatics, we believe our customers will do all of the brand building for The Podium Lounge on our behalf. Keeping The Podium Lounge top-of-mind and celebrating our line-up each year to attract new customers is something we do very aggressively and having hosted sell-out events now for many years with The Podium Lounge, the balance seems to work.

I’m sure many of our readers are inspired; so Robbie, how does one get into this glamour-party industry like the one you have?

One always has to start small and find their niche. Then perfect the art of what you by doing it often and learning from your mistakes. I guess a good starting point is throwing good house parties, then expanding that into a more public offering and building a brand known for delivering absolute and unrelenting quality. 

For those who wish to get in touch with you or know more about the F1 Podium Lounge, how can they do so?

Our full event line-up for The Podium Lounge Singapore and contact details are via www.podiumlounge.com/sg. We look forward to partying with you over the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix at The Podium Lounge, Level 1 of The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia from Friday 20 – Sunday 22 September.

Friday 20 September (Opening Night), features a star-studded night with a DJ set by Spice Girl, Melanie C – the female artist with the most songs at Number 1 in the UK, hot off the heels of the recent Spice World Tour;

Saturday 21 September – risqué musical comedy troupe and celebrity party-starters The Cuban Brothers will be performing their sexy, soulful music and jaw-dropping dance routines – made famous on the stages of Glastonbury and Bestival;

Sunday 22 September (Race Night), British actor and singer-songwriter Raleigh Ritchie – famous for his epic role as Grey Worm, Commander of the Unsullied in Game of Thrones; will be performing tracks from his outstanding debut album ‘You’re a Man Now, Boy’ – live on The Podium Lounge stage!

All 3 nights will see Daniel Jones of Savage Garden perform live on stage, together with singer Kathleen de Leon of Hi-5 and rising Singaporean star Maya Davidov – who’ll be rocking the high octane party following the track-side thrills and spills on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

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Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen

Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen is the Marketing In Asia's Editor for Singapore. She is also a certified Image Branding & Lifestyle Consultant. Born in Singapore and blessed to have lived in a couple of other amazing cities in the world, Anjalika is currently expatriating in Kuala Lumpur. Follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram. You may also reach her by email at anjalika@marketinginasia.com.

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