Orbell Communications

Communicating Your Message

20 years in design and marketing, my 10 Best and Worst events

Posted by jorbell on June 15, 2009

On Twitter earlier today someone had posted a link to a blog post about their top five best and worst perks over 10 years working in the journalism industry.

RT @swhittle: My blog: 10 years in journalism, my 10 Best and Worst PR moments. http://bit.ly/7NR0S

There were some very amusing tales in there which has prompted me to write my own list which, while not at all matching his, are pretty cool in their own particular ways.

So first up, here are my top six work related events (in no particular order) over my 20 years working in design and marketing.

EuroDisney (1992)

This was a great team building trip marred only by a Thomas Cook marketing strategy meeting on the first night in a Heathrow Hotel. The following morning was memorable for the disturbing sight of our hungover (and rather large) Marketing Director strolling through the hotel lobby only in towel and trunks to use the hotel pool and then me managing to get bumped up to Business Class on the flight out to Paris. One of my other memories of that trip was that a colleague’s suitcase didn’t arrive at the hotel until we were boarding the coach to go back to the airport. Obviously that’s funny as it happened to someone else and not me!

Kensington Roof Gardens (2005)

This was event was to celebrate the rather peculiar anniversary of 50 quarterly member meetings. For anyone that has been there, the Kensington Roof Garden is a very strange setting where you feel you could be anywhere but on the roof a tower block in West London. The babbling brook and the flamingos were two other unexpected sights but as this is a Dickie Branson property I perhaps shouldn’t have been all that surprised. I believe his son had his 18th there too.

Dragon Boat Racing, Docklands, London (1997)

Another department within Thomas Cook where I was working at at the end of the 90s organised a team for huge travel industry dragon boat event. For whatever reason, they found that they were short of people for the team so went around our building on bended knee looking for recruits. As I was free I stepped in and had the most wonderful stress free day you could imagine. Free beer and B-B-Q plus glorious sunshine and just two dragon boat races to get out the chair for all day. A non-stop giggle throughout.

Amsterdam (2005)

Back in 2005 our company all flew out to Amsterdam for a bit of friendly co-operation with one of our competitors. An unusual occurance I’ll admit but in light of what we do it’s nice that we can put business to one side for a bit and have a bit of fun. There were a variety of team building activities including treasure hunt and a rather remarkable game of blindfold football – my suggestion – which involved our respective CEOs running hand in hand across a Dutch hockey field and kicking wildly a thin air. The evening was completed by a trip to a fantastic Amsterdam comedy club where the comdians were kind enough to tell their jokes in English.

British Interactive Multimedia Association Awards, The Hilton Hotel, London (1996)

I managed to get invited to this after working on secondment on an interactive television project in the mid-90s. It was a black tie do hosted by comedian Tony Hawks and we were up for a gong which we duly won. Also on our table was a guy who joined the department that very same day and the person I’d replaced who’d been away on maternity leave. As he was introduced to her he asked when the baby was due despite her child then being about three months old – not a good start to his career.

PR Week Awards, Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London (2006)

In another black tie event I was privileged to be invited by our PR agency, webitPR as was, Realwire as is, to the PR Week Awards hosted by Jeremy Vine. It was great to be part of this occasion and I was in some great company and was royally looked after in all my time with them. The hotel room was particularly spectacular too.

And now for the bad experiences. Well, when I say bad…

To be honest I’ve been fortunate to not have too many problems but there are a few notable occasions that are worthy of a mention.

Celebrity Chaperoning at an Insurance Conference (2002)

In 2002 I was working in the insurance industry and we were planning to hold a large conference at the ICC in Birmingham. We had tried to tempt Sven Goran Erikson along as a speaker but despite waving £35,000 under his nose, he preferred to attend a European Champions’ League match at Highbury. We still had Jon Snow, the Channel 4 newsreader, as host but an oversight meant that no-one had booked him a hotel room. This was a bit embarrassing for me as I had to look after him during the event itself including encouraging him to have publicity shots of him in a virtual reality motor racing game. He’s well over six feet so he had drive with his knees around his ears.

CeBIT (2004)

CeBIT is a mamouth trade show that takes place every year in Hannover, Germany. I only ever went once and despite the company going back for a second crack a year later, it was fairly obvious it wasn’t worth the hassle of us attending. Any visitors who passed our appallingly positioned stand were only there for the giveaways and would stare back at us blankly whenever we explained our business model. Our accommodation those few days was something to behold too as we were basicly renting an unfurnished flat. Virtually every stick was moved out prior to our arrival apart from the beds. There was no common area other than the miniscule hallway or kitchen and none of the windows had any curtains. However, even this was prerable to what we nearly faced on the first night as we couldn’t open the door to the flat for nearly half an hour despite having a key.

My plush Hannover apartment room

My plush Hannover apartment room

LINX’s 10th Anniversary Party (2004)

The company’s 10th anniversary party was actually a fantastic occasion and everyone who attended had a wonderful time. There were exotic dancers and a snake charmer, lots of great food and drink and some serious revelry going on for all concerned. At least, that’s what they tell me. I never got to go as I was busy having an operation to have my gall bladder removed following a bout of acute pacreatitis earlier in the year. I was most put out by this as I’d designed all manner of literature and merchandising for the event including invitations and multi-coloured hanging banners which were swiped and transported all across the continent after the event.

Thomas Cook Roadshow – Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bradford and Stockport (1991)

I look back upon these roadshows more as a series of pointless games of paper, scissors, stone involving complicated qualifying rounds and knock-out phases plus copious amounts of beer in the evenings. Unfortunately, the long days travelling between venues, the hangovers, the dreadful hotels along with the travel agent staff attendees who didn’t really want to be there, made this one of the most exhausting weeks of my life.

All these events I look back upon fondly for one reason or another and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience them. Every job has its down side but I can’t complain at the hand I’ve been dealt careerwise.


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