Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Revenue Generating Road Trip . . .

I'm back in West Virginia just in time to prepare for a storm moving up the east coast of the U.S. that is alternately being called, an historic storm, a perfect storm and a storm like we've never seen before. So, some 60 million people are scrambling to evacuate regions that will be badly hit, stock up on food, water, batteries, obtain generators if they can find them and in general, hunker down for this monster storm. It's actually a combination of three storms all coming together to produce a storm that has wind and rain bands that span an area of about 1,000 miles in all directions. It's part Hurricane Sandy, part a Nor'easter and part - well, I'm not sure exactly, but it has to do with a high-pressure cold front coming in from the east. Wow! 

At any rate, at least I'm not actually traveling during this event. I'm basically hunkered down here in the little Cumberland Valley of West Virginia where I expect we'll see some serious rain and some gusty winds up to maybe 45 or 50 miles per hour.

Now, if I weren't here in West Virginia, I'd have loved to have been hunkered down in my 26th floor corner hotel room at the Swissotel where I was staying, courtesy of my client, in Chicago. Now, why would I have enjoyed being there through a storm like this? Well, check out these photos.
My room is on the corner of the front of the
triangular shaped building 26 floors up!

Yes! This where my revenue generating road trip took me, the Swissotel on N. Wacker Drive in Chicago. From my room I had a fantastic view of the Navy Pier and Lake Michigan as well as much of downtown and the Magnificent Mile.

It would have been exciting watching tropical storm force winds and rain from the security of my room with at least a 180 degree view of Chicago. Watching the turbulent waters of Lake Michigan and the rain filling the Chicago River, possibly to flood stage and seeing the forces of nature in all of its glory from a safe vantage point would have been awesome. Of course, much of Chicago has been raised about three levels up from the river, so only the lowest level would have potentially been flooded.

Of course, we went to our favorite Chicago hot dog place, Portillo's - and as you can see it was surrounded by one of the largest McDonald's I have ever seen, about a city block. Imagine the cost of that real estate. Also there was the Hard Rock Cafe and the Rain Forest Cafe all filling the four of the corners at Ontario and Clark.


The road trip brought me to a 3 1/2 day conference that I've worked at before both last year and the year before. Essentially, our team (my former partner, Mike is the prime contractor) provided all the computer - Power Point - support for the 50 sessions and 75 to 80 presenters. We also provided all the recording services for all the sessions as well as monitoring the sound for all the keynote and concurrent breakout sessions. 

Mike provided also all the conference books with session information as well as other printed materials and signage for the various requirements. There were a few other services we also provided including the badges each participant had to wear for admission to the sessions and assembling many of the conference printed materials the participants received upon registration. Our team consisted of five people. Since Mike and I have had years of experience working at and running meetings like this, we play a major role in the entire process.

A typical breakout session 

A typical audio and recording set up - our digital recorders are the two
units on the right above the two microphones

The long hall in the Swissotel meeting area with three members of our team
at the far end of the hall between two of the four breakout rooms

Our days began at (as we describe it) 0 Dark 30 on Monday - Wednesday. Sunday was an easy day of set up and monitoring three consecutive sessions in the afternoon and an opening party in the evening. We wrapped up on Wednesday and were checked out, had the Chevy Suburban packed and were on the road by 12:30 PM heading back to the east coast.

The drive back was broken up by an overnight stop in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at a large audio equipment and musical instrument dealer, Sweetwater, where I have bought some of my audio technology and Sweetwater has become one of Mike's clients buying CD/DVD duplication, printing and packaging from. We stopped at Sweetwater in the morning, after breakfast. 

Mike met with his buyer and I met with my sales rep and got a tour of their new (about three years old) state of the art facilities including three recording studios, demo rooms, a musical instrument showroom and a music academy. I also viewed their state of the art, automated warehouse from the observation window that overlooked the entire operation. They are in the process of doubling the size of the warehouse part of the operation. It was, of course, interesting to me and encouraging to see a business that appears to be thriving during this tough economic time.

After our visit to Sweetwater it was eastward bound and we again, chose to drive on Blue Highways for a good part of the drive across Indiana and Ohio until we reached Columbus. From that point it was interstate highway back through the rest of southeastern Ohio, two small parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, western Maryland and finally the end of the road for me when we finally reached Keyser, West Virgina (the third time entering West Virginia on the trip back).

Total trip was seven days. Revenue generated will supplement my lifestyle for about three months. All in all, a pleasant and worthwhile road trip. And as a side note, all of these photos were taken with my Android Motorola Atrix smart phone except for the restaurant photos that were taken with my regular, older DSLR Minolta Dimage Z6. Now, back to hunkering down for the approaching "perfect" storm.

No comments: