A London Business Trip Stream of Consciousness
Here I am in Chicago for my 4th straight week of business travel. My mind is mush, and my body is losing muscle-mass by the minute. Nonetheless, I thought I’d recount last week’s trip to London for our Global Marketing Summit, stream-of-consciousness style. Aided by my tweets and augmented by a few pics, I should be able to recall the highlights as the jet lag clears.
Tuesday May 6: The Long Voyage to London
It’s 3:45am, I just woke up for the flight. I didn’t sleep well last “night”. I never do when I need to go international. My iPod hard drive died last night for some unexplained reason. The replacement is my wife’s retired Dell Axim that I quick-loaded with a few MP3’s.
The Rochester Airport wasn’t crowded this morning for some reason so I breezed through check-in and security. The UAL flight to Washington was great aboard a CRJ 700 – one of the only regional jets that have comfortable, wide seats, stand-up height, and enough legroom. Wendy’s for breakfast at IAD. What possessed me to order a “Frescuit“? I can’t even pronounce it. It was flat awful.
I head for my 9:30am London connection. Aboard the 777, I get a window seat jammed next to another guy with very wide shoulders. I’m always surprised that the meals aboard the long-haul planes are decent. I’ve seen Cloverfield and Jumper now plus I’ve written 2 blog entries for my work project. The batteries are dead on all of my portable electronic devices by the time I arrive. It’s now 12:30pm London time, a full 15 hours since I got up. The London cabbie is a cheerful woman who takes me to the Beauchamp Hotel. Apparently a new mayor was elected recently in London because I heard all about it. It takes me forever to wind down. I call Tricia and the kids (they are 5 hours behind) and fall asleep by 2am. Wake up call is 7:00am. Can’t wait!
Wednesday May 7: An English Breakfast and a Brown Finish
I pry open my eyes at 7am and go down for the complimentary breakfast. The waitress asked what I wanted, and I said “Everything”. God bless the English, because out came the following: Scrambled eggs, wheat toast, sausage, back bacon, and my favorite random English sides, baked beans, mushrooms and a tomato. I shotgunned the meal in under 10 minutes. I bet the natives let it rest a bit more than that. I meet the rest of our crew in the lobby, and we’re off to the office. My juvenile sense of humor finds many of the London sights funny. I’m not sure what to expect to drink at the Bung Hole for instance, but it conjures up images of Beavis and Butthead for sure.
The names of some London establishments leave something to be desired
The morning is full of meet and greets and business strategy updates. We’re hearing a lot about Corporate Social Responsibility these days. There is a great update to our corporate capabilities brochure that is sure to please everyone looking for fresh images and an updated showpiece to share with clients and candidates. It strikes me how hard it is to coordinate a global marketing effort in a regionally structured company. I’m chomping at the bit to share our web video launch with the global team, and get some feedback on the creative for our upcoming blog release. The team responds to both with enthusiasm and constructive input.
The meeting is done and the fatigue is setting in by 5:00pm. I sneak in a shower and a 10 minute catnap at the hotel. After a quick check-in with the family I’m off to Browns London for our evening dinner meeting. I’m having Steak, Mushroom and Guinness Pie – how English!
Kris and Ronel: the Interactive Marketing Squad for Hudson
At 11pm the first day is complete. I’m heading back to the hotel to catch up on the work of the day. I’m asleep by 2am because it feels like 9pm.
Thursday May 8: Global Updates and a Speed Boat Ride
I’m still not yet coherent from lack of sleep, but it’s time to head off to the office at Chancery Lane at 8am. Today every global marketing manager is sharing the successes from their region and their upcoming plans. My takeaway is this: It’s an exciting time to be a marketer in Asia, rebuilding time for Australia, maturing time in EU, and experimental time in the US. It is refreshing to know that we share VERY similar challenges aligning marketing to business process, and pushing business process to align with a marketing vision. We’re ending the day by looking forward to our team outing: a speed boat ride on the Thames and dinner at Floridita.
It is clear that we all need some fresh air after being cooped up inside all day. The walk to the boats right beneath the London Eye puts a smile on our faces. We’ve gotten shockingly good weather all week and tonight is no exception. 70 degrees and sunny. We’re talking about London, not Florida.
From Left: Carrie, Denise and Rick walking to the boats
We make it to the docks with time to catch a few pictures of the iconic sites. Then we find out what were really getting into. Apparently the “boats” we’ll be riding in are little dinghies with twin 225hp rocket engines attached to them. We are all very reassured as we don our life jackets and pack ourselves into the raft.
Hop aboard the raft. Keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times
I’m a speed (the rate of movement, not the drug) junkie. When the boats hit top speed there is nothing I can do but smile and take in the breathtaking scenery along the banks of the Thames. We pass Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Bridge, Tower Bridge, and the Royal Observatory (keeper of Greenwich Meantime) to name a few of the sites. Just as fun, though is fearing for your life as the boats probably reaches 60 MPH bobbing and weaving through the huge wakes caused by all of the boat traffic in the river. We are definitely airborne more than once.
Our speedboat ride beneath the Tower Bridge
I’m thankful for dry land after all the speedboat excitement. We go back to the hotel to freshen up, then it’s time for dinner. Floridita is a Cuban cabaret with drag queens doing all sorts of crazy dancing, and killer pomegranate mojitos. A lot of the team from the London office is hanging out with us. We are having a great time talking American politics and testing our foreign accents. By midnight though most of us are turning into pumpkins, and we call it a trip.
Friday May 9: 22 Hours of Case Studies and International Travel
Friday morning, we buzz back to the office and have a morning agenda packed with case studies of marketing ROI in action. From Job Board tracking to integrated campaigns, our team is really working on measuring all of our efforts. We are taking advantage of our last minutes together by recapping the week and setting an action plan. At 1pm Carrie, and I are in a cab (the world’s best in my opinion) to Paddington station and on the Heathrow Express to the airport.
I have to connect to Rochester via Dulles again. This time I’m mesmerized by a Catherine Heigl chick flick, 27 Dresses. Does that surprise anyone who knows me? When I finally settle into bed at 12:30AM on Saturday morning, I’m realizing that I’ve been up 22 straight hours. Yes, that drive home from the airport was risky.
All in all, this was a great trip to London packed with great information and great sights. If you’d like to see more pictures, have a look at the London photo album.