Archives For Travel

Go SouthWest Old Man

MH3 —  March 2, 2014

I am one thousand percent worried I will be the oldest delegate at SXSW this week.

I was further spooked last week, when the first fellow delegate who spotted me on the attendee list was a former intern…barely into their first real job.

Yet it’s high time I broke out of my conference routine. Later this month I will be attending IEG for the 19th or 20th time. But I need to change things up. This April will be the first time in several years I’m not attending the CSTA Sport Events Congress. It’s all I can do to resist the pull of SportAccord in Turkey or the Event Marketer conference in Salt Lake come May. The latter’s been replaced by the Mirren New Business agency conference in NYC. I’m still debating C2 in MTL and want to hear any thoughts people have on that.

(Kudos by the way to the TwentyTen Group and their XL Leadership Summit a couple of weeks back. Hearing lots of orbital buzz about how good it was!)

So I’m making some changes. Slowly.

My guess is SXSW will be anything but slow. I’m attending the Interactive week, which also is hosting three days of SPORTS this week. The integration of Sports with Interactive is generating pre-conference buzz among attendees. It’s a savvy move by the organizers, mirroring the very real collision between these two social movements on a daily basis. I’m excited to attend an event where I can hear Gary Vaynerchuk one day and Dick’s Sporting Goods the next!

Let me know if I can get anything for you while I’m in Austin. I’ve got to run and find my fake ID that says I’m 27!

The Grass IS Greener

MH3 —  November 20, 2013

This isn’t an “I am Canadian” ad, but Mr. MH3 has watched CFL football almost everywhere in this country.

But the word ‘almost’ wasn’t inadvertently placed in my opening sentence. Incomprehensibly, impossibly, inexcusably, I have never watched a game in the purest home of Canadian football, and also the home of one of my favourite prime ministers. For a Torontonian, I have been to Regina, Saskatchewan more than most, I’m sure. This is trip number 10, I think. Although one of them was during Craven, so maybe that should really count for at least 2.5 trips on its own! But it’s still the only current CFL city that for some reason I’ve never watched a game in. Actually I’ve watched the Riders play when I’ve been in Regina. But I was at a sports bar and the team was in Hamilton, so that doesn’t count.

As I’m bumpily (too bumpily by the way Captain Crunch, if you can hear me up in the cockpit) strutting on gilded wings towards the Regina airport through the evening sky tonight, it’s dawned on me: Grey Cup 101 will be my first Riders home game ever. Holy Horseshoes in my gitch, Luck is my middle name. And no, Dumb isn’t my first.

Rider Pride here I come. You’ll probably be happy to hear, I AM a Riders fan!! Big time. Favourite CFL team of all time. I already put in a deposit for future season tickets. Can’t wait to do a boys weekend trip for a game. Hopefully Russ Jackson, Condredge Holloway, Tom Clements, J.C. Watts or one of our other legendary former quarterbacks will inspire our current pivot’s play.

Yep, it’s true. I’m an Eastern Rider man. Sorry 306, me loving the Red and Black.

But now I’m troubled. Speaking of Red and Black, the new Ottawa team won’t be a Rider brand. So maybe I should become a Western Rider man. I have to admit this is troubling.

Truthfully, I’m not sure who I’m going to cheer for. The Ticats played all year at my alma mater, Moo U, and I’m a big Hank Burris fan and in awe of Kent Awestin. (Oh come on, of course I know it’s Austin). On the other hand Double D and Double C faced some pretty long odds to steal home field advantage for the Coupe final being hosted by the entire province of Saskatchewan. I’m pretty stoked for the football-crazy atmosphere that’s erupting when we are wheels down.

Saskatchewan so loves its football. I was in Calgary, with the 13th man, a couple of years ago and the Red Mile was definitely dyed green that weekend. Oh, I’m sorry. Is there a provincial law against the number 13 in your fair province? How silly of me to forget.

So I will start there. Let’s cheer for coaches on both teams who can count to twelve. Twelve is symbolic of what makes our Canadian game so amazing. Twelve players. Endless motion. Three downs. 110 yards. One optically bigger ball (according to some soothsayer named Lysko that used to be seen north of the 49th).

If you’ve never been to a Grey Cup, the emotion of what my iPad is sharing with you probably doesn’t mean much. This will be number 14 or 15 for me. I really should do an accurate count. I’m not just a groupie; I’m the groupie club President. Grey Cup week has few event peers when cast as a canvas for what our great country portrays.

Hey Canada, park your Ford frenzy for a week (please tell me you liked my pun…Ford…) and smell the greener grass.

Workcations Don’t Work

MH3 —  August 28, 2013

Last summer I was pretty proud of myself. I took two weeks off and only sent four work-related emails. Of course the London Olympics were a serious distraction from the office rote.

Stupidly when I embarked on this vacay, I actually expected to work. The theory of this hot air balloon burst quickly when I crashed into this old world time warp called Spain. Since swapping the chaotic romance of Barcelona for the organized tranquility of Montreux, Switzerland…the work time hasn’t increased. But my productivity has…and today while yodelling down the mountain, I decided to share my epiphanies with you.

#1. Mark the hypocrite says don’t work on vacation, but if you feel the pressure to be available, then:

# 2. Take twenty minutes in the morning to work and no more. You will be horrified you can actually do everything that’s truly important in way less than the hours of candle burning you normally incur!

# 3. Email at the best of times is horribly misused. When you are away you realize how much so. Convince your team to use email as a data transmitter, not a conversation enabler, and your inbox will shrink.

# 4. Use the twenty-four hour rule. On home soil, this applies when you’re about to send an angry email. But when you are away, delaying all will allow you to edit your replies so they are divinely surgical.

# 5. Mull. Meditate. Ponder. Never do we have enough daylight hours to think. What better time to teach yourself new techniques.

Smile for the camera, it doesn’t know you’re working!

No Siesta

MH3 —  August 22, 2013

Can being on holiday really be this exhausting?

I didn’t get up until 8:22 today and I’m still fried. Trying to adapt to this time-warped Spanish way of life is taking its toll. As a man who prides himself on his nocturnal stamina, I’m a bit humbled.

Our situ is straightforward. We are about to complete a relaxing stint in the north of Spain. San Sebastián to be exact. It’s a legendary summer destination that puts a premium on massive beaches, swanky shopping, and endless restaurants, tapas bars, and cafes.

It’s not quaint. It’s teeming with people. But it has an ancient charm and a romantic pull that’s hard to describe. I said I wished we could stay for two weeks here and my twelve year old countered with “forever”. So it’s worth going.

But if I stayed two weeks I’m not sure I would make it. We’ve been eating lunch in the late aft and getting home from dinner after eleven. I can’t imagine being here sans kids and firing up for bar hopping at 2:00 AM per the local custom! But lots of people are.

I examine every face I encounter the next day. How late did you stay out? How does a two-hour siesta tide you over? What magic gene do you have that I lack?

Tomorrow we leave Basque Country for Barcelona. I’ve got four more days to get my act together or my name will be the subject of local ridicule.

This vacation stuff is hard work.

Hats off to the Stampede!

MH3 —  July 3, 2013

I have an ache inside me today that you may not understand.

It’s an emptiness. A longing. A pining for something beloved.

Yes world, it’s the first weekend of July and I am not going to make it to the 2013 Calgary Stampede. It’s not news the Stampede is my favourite event of the year. It’s also not news that whether I had ten days of intense work or a one-day site check, I regularly made the event a key part of my travel calendar. And when work wouldn’t comply, I made it the destination for my buddy’s birthday trip.

Once the Stampede gets inside you it never escapes. You don’t want it to. The Stampede is civic pride, prairie skies, welcoming strangers, limitless parties, living heritage, and unparalleled volunteers.

It’s an event where experiential marketers relish the experiences they can create. Where networking is supercharged. Where sponsorship truly is sponsorship.

Authenticity is a cliche, except when it’s spelt Calgary Stampede.

Ironically I had reconciled myself to not going when I made the call a month ago. But then calamity struck. The floods. The damage. The turmoil. Yet as the waters subsided, stories arose from my friends in the West of a community rallying together.

The anticipation for this salvaged Stampede may ironically match that of the milestone 100th anniversary edition of 2012. So while I can’t be there to raise a toast to the perseverance of the hundreds of men and women who ensured this year’s event will happen, I can issue an electronic salute to them.

In true Stampede spirit, a white hat for all of them!

Roman Times

MH3 —  February 7, 2013

My friend got mugged at the Super Bowl.

Not Michael Crabtree ticky tack on the most important fourth down of his life, which he deserved for running a wimpy route to cap off a deer in the headlights set of play calls to end the 49ers chances.

No, I mean mugged mugged.

Confronted on his way home by two apparently friendly locals, he was cowardly jumped from behind and flattened. The trio then pummeled him with their boots in a unique Louisiana welcome. Fortunately, two rent-a-cops from a nearby party scared off the unwelcoming committee before too much damage was inflicted.

That incident is a snapshot of New Orleans to me.  What a beautifully strange place. It’s everything the TV shows and movies make it out to be. The music was amazing, the food even better. The weather, highly cooperative.

It was only my third Super Bowl. Yes, I’ve already received plenty of kickback for saying only, but it was by far the best and definitely the strangest.

A kid tried to swipe my wallet in broad daylight. He grabbed it. I grabbed him. Shrieked some foreign shriek at him and it was over. TKO by Harrison.  Unfortunately, another Canadian we knew wasn’t so lucky succumbing to a Bourbon Street pick pocket.

Emboldened by my pugilistic prowess, I glared down a drunk who grabbed and threatened me in the men’s room at the Superdome. Truthfully, I was backed up by six new best friends made while waiting for this weak belly to finish ralphing all over the stall we were awaiting.

But don’t let these misdemeanors dissuade you from seeing NOLA some day. Everyone needs to once. But as our pilot said when we landed, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. What happens in New Orleans winds up on Twitter!”

On TV you saw the same magical game we did. Though I would be remiss in not telling you I was a mere ten rows from the last gasp play. But from Section 135 I experienced more than a football game. Pregame concerts, tailgate parties, live alligators, and fortunetellers surrounded the stadium. Rich, and wanting to be rich, and never going to be rich united for a single day in their entry into football heaven. Ravens fans and 49ers fans, inebriated by the Mardi Gras spirit, dancing together in the stands to the pre-game marching bands.

The emotional high evaporating when twenty-six Sandy Hook students came to the field to sing America the Beautiful. In front of me, David Arquette had brought one of the Sandy Hook first responders as his guest. His t-shirt imprinted with small footprints, a morbid reminder that life isn’t a game.

There was the eerie feeling when the blackout first struck. Immediate thoughts of Hurricane Katrina cast a spell of unease over the stadium. The tensions on the field rose, as the delay grew longer. Maybe this was a life or death game as we anxiously awaited Emperor Goodell to allow the combatants back into the arena.

In Roman Times the losers would have died. Thankfully, all the San Fran players and my buddy get to see another day. That’s sort of how you will feel after wading through Bourbon Street.

 

Bye Week

MH3 —  January 24, 2013

This is the second worst weekend of the year for me. No football.

Grey Cup, Vanier Cup, Metro Bowl, Rose Bowl, Go Tell Your Daddy on Me Bowl are all a distant memory. In the name of Peyton Manning, don’t even try to tell me to watch the Pro Bowl. Peyton may want his fellow stars to play harder, but there is no worse all-star game than the Pro Bowl. Heck how can it even be a true all-star game when two teams can’t send their players?!

I am left floundering as to what to do this weekend. Maybe I will join all of you hopelessly hypocritical hockey fans and jump right back on the noisy bandwagon racing down the ice. You know who you are. I heard you telling me you weren’t going to buy NHL tickets, watch games, or join a fantasy pool. You’re the same cats who are emailing me for my Leaf tickets and screaming in my ear at the local wing joint last night because the Leafs are now 2-1.

I could shovel my driveway for the first time all winter, but despite this deep freeze called Friday we are in, it only has an inch of snow on it and heck it’s going to be +5 next Tuesday, so what’s the point.

Actually, the easiest option would be to join the 24/7, or 7/24 if you prefer, hype on-air and on-line about the Har-Bowl. Hype or not you have to revel in the fact that two brothers are facing each other in the Super Bowl! Less than 80 men have been Super Bowl coaches and the Harbaugh parents have now produced two of them. What’s next? Will Doug Ford run for mayor versus Rob Ford? Should Maya Soetoro-Ng have run against Obama in the last US Presidential election instead of Romney? Will Jazmyn and Jaxon Bieber gang up on JB1 and form their own modern day Donna and Marie revue?

Holy gumbo I know what I will do. Pack. Yes sports fans I am off to NOLA. Oh that’s not very nice of me to just let this slide out… in the most public of domains. But yes I am giggling with delight that MH3 is going to SBIII. No I don’t have the numbers wrong, this is MY SBIII.

As a Steeler man, you know I will be cheering against the Ravens. Somewhat sad the 49’ers will tie us for most rings, but that’s still better than watching Flacco win.

So stay tuned Rajun Cajuns. I will be tweeting with a Creole accent next weekend!

Bye!

I didn’t plan to blog three times about my London experience. Sorry if you have heard enough! Hopefully, third time is the charm?

But the more times I have recounted my holiday to people the more I realize what a wonderful professional experience the Games were. I cannot exaggerate what a magnificent demonstration of event management they were to behold. In fact, event management is not a lofty enough title. This was brand management. This was client fulfillment. This was satisfying your customer. This was delivering on your value proposition. This was brand experience personified.

Continue Reading “Olympic Gold: Lessons from the 2012 London Olympic Games”…

My blog needs a vacation. It’s feeling slighted.

It knows I’m on vacation. Last week the Olympics, this week Normandy.

Don’t side with my blog by calling me spoiled. It can see my entire family is on vacation. It doesn’t need new allies.

My blog is feeling treated like a dog. It should feel worse, because my dog is also away, at a friend’s cottage. How does that work?!

By coincidence, my sister is on vacay right now as well. On the West Coast, California style. Her husband used to play football with my buddy Rico. He’s chilling on the East Coast, Hampton Beach style. There is no deep connection here. I’m just trying to make sure my blog feels as crummy as possible. Even if I have to resort to entirely random connections.

Continue Reading “Games and Frontiers: European Vacation Stirs a Range of Feelings”…

Cheer to the End

MH3 —  August 8, 2012

Words escape me.

With powerful memories of the Vancouver Olympics and Whistler Paralympics still fresh in my mind, l booked a trek to the London Games. Yes, I’m incredibly spoiled.

I write to you from Olympic Stadium at this very moment.
The appropriate words to describe how I feel are far beyond my writing skills or even my fictional powers. In part because I was worried that after spending all the time and money to get here that it wouldn’t be as amazing as the 2010 Games.

Silly me. It is unreal here.

Continue Reading “Cheer to the End”…