Friday was another rough wakeup as they always seemed to be. We once again woke up early and then headed over to the BOA offices to hear one of the executives Daryl speak. He previously worked for the USOC then had his own consulting firm and then came to work for BOA. He was an awesome guy and really did us a favor because he only spoke for thirty minutes and then took questions. He spoke about what it was like dealing with athletes during the games, the pros and cons of social media, and the importance of freedom of expression. He also told us about managing michael phelps right after he won his 8th gold medal. It was incredibly insightful and interesting.
Next we met with the director of Olympic programming for the BBC. He spoke to us about certain tactics and different ideas they were employing to make sure their coverage of the olympics was completely. He also spoke about the different challenges he faced during the process. We say a few promo videos and it seems as if the BBC is well prepared to cover the Olympic games.
After that, most of us went back to the hotel to nap. Then we had to get ready for our going away dinner a Boulevard Brasserie in Convent Garden. The dinner was very good albeit very rich. My stomach had been bothering me before the dinner, but the dinner only made it worse. After dinner we all returned to the apartments to begin packing because we had to be checked out by 10:00 A.M. After that we got ready to go out, while my stomach was still bothering me, and we headed over to O’Neils for our last night. It was a fun night with more good music and good drinks and was a great way to end the trip. It was sad saying goodbye to some people but as Karp said “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.” As cliche as it is, he was right!
Today was one of my least favorite and least relevant days. We woke up incredibly early to make the two hour trip out to Loughborough University, one of team GB’s Olympic training facilities. We go there and it looked as if it were one of the ugliest university campuses I had ever seen. We heard from our first speaker who spoke about the corporate side of event management and who spoke about the importance of facilities. While I suppose he and the topics he was speaking upon were interesting, we were woken up far too early and pushed far too hard to travel that long to be expected to e interested.
After our first speaker we went on a tour of the facilities, which were quite impressive. After the facilities tour, we had a good lunch in the café and them headed for our seconf speaker. Our second speaker was a short, round Englishman who actually did have interesting things to say. He spoke objectively about the history of the Olympics and the realities of the current Olympics. While he also would have been interesting, none of us really knew who he was til halfway through the presentation. None of us are truly sure as to why we went to Loughborough. Some of us think it was because University of Michigan made it a requirement because we have an exchange program there. Either way it was not a very interesting day.
As the day came to a close an we headed back into the city, we encountered various delays and track closures. This was a a problem because I had to get to a dinner with some of my mom’s business associates. Somehow I was able to get to South Kensington early and worked at Arabella’s office for a little. After that Arabella and I walked over to meet her husband Raul at a nice restaurant called Bumpkin. It was a fabulous time and I very much enjoyed myself. After the dinner I headed back to the apartments where I had to pre-game quickly because I was very late. That night we went out to a bar called O’neils, which was very fun. It had great music, good drinks, and was just a great bit of fun. It really was a good time. It was a mediocre day, but a great night.
Today was an incredibly busy day. We started early and ended late and it was a whirlwind of a day. Despite the fact that the LOCOG meeting was interesting, it was a tad bit too early. As was most of the trip but these people have busy lives. The lady from LOCOG presented from a PR standpoint and about handling it. It was a quick meeting in which she did not stand. This made it incredibly difficult to hear her. After LOCOG we went over to the offices of the Telegraph and met with the Olympics Editor for the paper. Before we got there though, we had a chance to see the Queen leave the palace to go to open parliament. This was an incredible experience that I cannot do justice; we saw one of the most powerful women in the world ride by us in a carriage.
After the Queen, we headed over to the Telegraph. The editor explained her job and the different ways that they were looking to cover the Olympics throughout the entire process: before, during, and after. It was a very engaging meeting in which she let us ask her an incredible amount of questions. She showed us a video of the telegraph and she explained the importance of social media within covering the games. The telegraph served us an outstanding lunch and then we were on our way again. We were off to the offices of Octagon, IMG’s main competitor.
They spoke to us for a while about marketing techniques, sponsorship activation, and their role in advising sponsors how to protect themselves against ambush marketing and how to successfully activate their sponsorship. It was a very strong presentation and I enjoyed it. The interesting part was when we re asking questions about ambush marketing and if they would recommend it to some of their clients who weren’t Olympic sponsors. They very much danced around that question, which I found very amusing. Either way it was a great presentation and I would love to work their as well. They all seem to be similar people to me, so given hard work and relationship building I think I can get there. After Octagon we had the opportunity to go back to Nido (the apartments) and sleep. It was much needed rest.
That night we were not exactly sure of what we wanted to do given that the previous night had been such a long night. We headed over to a local bar called ONE that has fantastic music and good drinks. Somehow I have a way of talking to people and got a couple half-priced drinks and a free one at that. It was a very fun night, as most of them seem to be. Everyday I learn knew things about myself, the people around me, and how to create relationships with them. This will be the key to success: creating and maintaining relationships. It was a great day, another one, despite the fact that they were running us ragged. Well, you only get this trip once!
We were up bright an early on Tuesday because we had an 8:30 AM meeting with Deloitte. Deloitte is a finance firm that deals with management consulting and corporate finance among other things. They are also one of the sponsors for the BOA because they are not a TOP sponsor. We heard about sponsorship and what it was exactly. We learned about what Deloitte’s motives were and why they wanted to do the sponsorship in spite of the fact that they were investing so much money. WE learned about the activation aspects of the sponsorship and about the ways in which Deloitte was moving to make sure their name was synonymous. We learned about activation strategies and about future plans of Deloitte. We learned about the types of people they wanted to target as far as the success of the sponsorship and they explained how they were going to do that. They spoke to us about the corporate hospitality that they were partaking in including the reach out to the executives of the business world. Deloitte’s strategy seemed incredible and it looked as if they had thought about almost everything.
After the Deloitte meeting we were done for the day. The boys and girls split up and we headed over to Picadilly circus. After an interesting breakfast in a relatively cheap place, we headed over to Nike town in order to check out what they had. It was an amazing store with four floors of incredible color and equipment. Of course I didn’t buy anything because why spend money there when there is one in the city. After Nike Town we went over to a department store to try and buy Olympic paraphernalia and we did so successfully. After that most of the guys wanted to go see the Avengers which had just come out, but Karpinos and I wanted to sleep. So we went back to Nido and slept for awhile.
That night we all went out to Nando’s as it was Tom and Bruce’s treat. It was a fun dinner, but I was very disappointed when both Jen and Erica left the dinner table for over an hour. The worst part was that Jen became offensive when we were disgusted. She had no excuse for leaving the dinner. That night the whole group pregamed and went out to an American Bar near farrington. It was insanely fun as we stayed their quite late; we met many different times of people both American and not, and I was able to get a couple drinks bought for me – I’m good at that. After that everyone went to sleep because of an early day with LOCOG the next morning.
Today was easily one of the best days we have had on the trip that did not include the visit to IMG. Today we started off with a trip to the tower of London to see the torture chambers, the crowne jewels, and the weaponry. It was an amazing experience that actually should not have happened because our museum passes had expired. After the tower the group split up. Me and the girls headed to Westminster Abbey, while the guys went out to Westfield Mall which they later admit was a mistake. Once we go to the abbey we attempted to go in with our museum passes, but we found it that it had expired and that we could not see the abbey. We had clearly made a mistake in the way we handled the museum pass the day before. After that me and the girls went to go grab lunch at a small place in the area. After that we weren’t sure what we wanted to do, but we started walking. We determined that the guards museum near the palace was a good place to go. Despite the fact that we didn’t have a map we were still able to find it. On the way we passed by the guards barracks where they were practicing marching. The museum was interesting and informed us much about the history of the guards and the different units. After the guards museum we took a stroll through St. James park and ended up at Picadilly Circus. After a few minutes of looking around and eating some Cinnabon I convinced the girls, who wanted to take the train, to walk to Covent Garden.
We spent over two hours walking through the side streets of soho and china-town and various areas of London all to find one pub called Porter House. This pub was so important because it was known for serving over 250 beers. Despite the fact that it took us so long, the walk was amazing. We saw real London and got lost in one of the most amazing cities in the world. We actually found the cheese store that supplies zingermans and we also found the area where we had been a few nights ago. As we were finally finding Covent Garden, I saw a pub which I recognized from a movie – Eurotrip. In the movie the pub was called the feisty goat, but in real life it was the nag’s head. It was a very fun pub that gave us a small beer tasting. Of course we couldn’t leave the pub without having a beer, so we did. After that we walked a few short minutes to finally find porter house. Walking as much as we did and dedicating so much effort to find this one pub, it was so gratifying. We took pictures outside of it and went in for a few drinks. I had an Austrian beer and an Australian one as well. After the few drinks we realized we had to head back to the apartments to make sure we would be in time for an 8:30 meeting.
This was also a very interesting part of the day because the tube we got on did not go all the way. We had to get off and take a bus, mind you this wasn’t the easiest thing to do after a few drinks. Finally we found the right bus, and after running for a couple minutes we pulled in as the last ones at the meeting. It was incredible day and was a true London experience. It was easily one of the most interesting and rewarding days of my life.
That night we wanted to take it easier because we had done a little bit of a day drink. We had dinner and just hung out with the crew. It was an enjoyable evening and an amazing day. Only in London!
Sunday was again one of our free days as it was a weekend. We were able to wakeup relatively late given that we really only wanted to go to Wimbledon. We had a museum pass that allowed us 24 hours of access to any and all of the museums in London. It was here that we made a huge mistake. While we did end up going to Wimbledon and using the pass, we pulled the trigger too quickly. It would have been much smarter for us to pay for the tour of wimbledon and then use the pass the next day (bank holiday) and see many more museums. Either way we went to Wimbledon.
We took a very long tube ride out to Wimbledon and then walked about another mile to get there. The town was quite small and pretty, it reminded me of a picturesque European town. We got to Wimbledon and had a tour with a fantastic tour guide named Susan. Wimbledon was incredible from seeing the courts to hearing the stories of the greats who played there, Wimbledon was fantastic. It was also quite cool given that I worked with some Wimbledon Champions last summer such as John McEnroe and Serena Williams. It was an amazing experience that I hope to get to actually participate (from a management standpoint) some day. It was a fantastic tour as Susan had very impressive transitions. The next couple days would have many of her comments repeated. After the tour we went into the shop and bought various gifts for our families. I bought two shirts for my parents, a key chain for my niece, and a mug for our home. Despite the fact that the trip there and back took us around six hours, it was well worth it.
To see a place that is the essential cathedral for tennis was an amazing experience. After returning to the hotel we did the normal routine of working out, dinner, then drinking. Although it was not a crazy we night, we did go out to some bars and enjoy a couple of drinks - as always it was an exciting and interesting day.
Saturday we were allowed to sleep in, until about 11:00 A.M. Thank god I woke up, because if I hadn’t neither my roommate nor I would have. After a crazy night, it wasn’t the best wakeup…but it never is. Today we went to Leyton, to visit with the CFO of the Leyton Orient FC and hear about the trouble they were going through. We took the tube out to Leyton and walked through the winding streets of the town, a very beautiful town. When we reached the stadium the CFO was all ready to meet with us and give us the run down.
He started by explaining that the team was in a perilous place. They had just avoided relegation to a lower league and were not selling out the stadium. They were not in a good place to begin with. The main problem they were facing when we spoke to them was based around the issue of the legacy of the Olympic stadium. Two competing clubs were considering moving into the Olympic stadium at the end of the event. This is a problem for Leyton Orient because they are so close to the stadium that either of these teams could and would steal fans and players, therefore leyton orient would slowly die. They would not be able to compete against these big powerful teams that would be so close in Locale. It was a sad story of a small market team fighting the imposing hand of large market teams with money and power. Although a lawsuit has been filed, the future of Leyton Orient is not guaranteed, only time will tell.
After we met with the CFO, we went over to the community center next door and learned all about the facilities and the Olympic involvement with the facility. We learned that US team athletes come over to spend time with the children, give supplies, and repair the massive gymnasium. It really was an awesome facility that does a lot for the community.
After the second meeting we headed out to a Portuguese restaurant in the area. Our teachers paid for the meal, the prices were outrageous any way, and it was fantastic. I tried some new foods and we got a chance to watch the Arsenal game on TV. After a great lunch we headed back towards the Leyton Orient stadium to watch a football match. It was the last match of the season and it was incredibly chippy. It was a good match and Leyton Orient won 2-1, ending the season on a high note. During the game we met two hilarious British guys with whom we spoke about the differences in the culture and the various political differences between the countries. The best line was when I asked about the rules of Cricket, one of them responded with: “You explain to me American Politics, and I’ll explain the rules of Cricket.” A truly great line! After a fantastic match on a cold day, we headed back to the apartments to eat dinner and get ready for the evening.
That night we went to the Covent Garden area (although we didn’t know it) and after a few minutes of wandering found a cool underground nightclub that I got into for free. The music was great and it was a great time. I was able to get a seat at some British guy’s table and get a few drinks just by talking to the girls there. Although there was some various drama as there always is with people our age, it was a really fun night. After we left the club we walked to try and find a bus stop because the trains close after 12. After wandering for awhile people started complaining and the idea of taking a cab came up. My friend Lizzy and I really didn’t care; we always loved walking around London. Finally we found a cab, but they wanted us to pay ahead of time. Kids start arguing and Lizzy and I just got out and went over to the sidewalk to watch. Eventually we got to a bus stop and went home, but it was a crazy night. Of course there was a late night stop at McDonalds which I regret, but hey it’s London. It was a hell of a night that I’m glad ended well! Only in London!
Friday was an interesting day, to say the least. We woke up around 8:00 A.M. because we had a tour of Lord’s Cricket Ground. It is the oldest site of Cricket and started in the mid 18th century. Our tour guide was one for the ages. He was a white haired South African man, probably in his mid sixties, who literally did whatever he wanted. He took us on a two hour tour of the grounds that included seeing players warm up, seeing an actual match, and visiting the cricket museum. Although it was not one of the most exciting tours, our guide had the perfect accent and spoke about this in a way that creates certain clichés. He truly was hilarious.
After Lords we took the tube back into the area that is known as little Italy. At first we thought the whole group was going to have lunch together, but after a few minutes we realized the reality and broke apart. After bobbing and weaving through the streets for a few minutes we found an incredibly cheap pizza place that served personal pizzas. After the pizza, which was very good by the way, we headed over the BOA (British Olympic Authority) to hear from a man named Jose Riera. Understand that the BOA is head of the British Olympic and Paralympic team. We had a chance to see torches that had previously been used and on the whole saw an incredible office. Jose Rierra is the Senior Press Officer for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. He explained to us the goals of the Olympic games and different aspects such as legacy and facilities that had to be accounted for. He spoke a lot about what the Olympics were doing for the community and about plans for the facilities after the games were over. He also spoke to us about the challenges of dealing with the British press and how they were much more direct than American press. All in all he was a great speaker and was incredibly informative. He was also very enthusiastic about the games given that he has been working so hard on them. He said that it was very challenging but that it was hugely satisfying.
After the BOA, we headed back to the apartments where we were staying. I went for a run and then we all went out to dinner. That night we pre-gamed then headed out to Fabric, the 8th best Nightclub in Europe. It was incredible; there must have been four or five floors to it. The music was incredible and we never stopped dancing. It was truly insane! It was the most fun we have had at night here so far. Although the first week is coming to an end it has been an incredibly interesting and insightful one. I have fallen in love with London (except for the prices) and the people I have met. It really is an amazing trip and I will always be grateful for the experiences I have had, even if it did cost 18 pounds to get in to Fabric! Either way, it was a great day!