November 14

European Sales Mission

About once every year or so, I head off with a group of my fellow California destination marketing partners on a whirlwind sales mission to visit tour companies in some far-off location. This time around, I went to France, Germany and England for a little over a week spreading the word about Sacramento.

This might sound like a lot of fun…and if you like hanging out with your friends enjoying fabulous food in some of the world’s most beautiful places, I suppose it is. However, it’s also a pretty grueling schedule that will wear you out and make you want to die.

I flew from Sacramento to Paris where I spent 90% of my time trying to capture my “joie de vivre” in the perfect instagram selfie.

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You might think that photo wasn’t worth 2 hours of effort, but I’ve got seventeen “likes” that suggest otherwise.

I had just enough time in Paris to cram about 50 croissants into my mouth before it was time to head off to Frankfurt. That’s where I met up with about a dozen of my California tourism counterparts and the team from the Visit California office in Germany. And a big “danke schoen” to all of them.

Basically, what we do is visit the offices of tour companies to educate them on our destinations. I know, I know, you think Sacramento is a super-popular mega-destination, but as it turns out the only thing most Germans know about us is that we are the state capital. So it’s my duty to get out there and let people know that we also have a train museum. Oh, and of course all the food, history, beer, wine, outdoor recreation, tree-lined streets and all-around awesomeness.

Anyhow, we were lucky enough to visit the offices of a company called Dertour which is one of the largest tour companies in the world. Here is what the visit looked like in collage form:

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Clockwise From Top:

  • An actual meeting where we learned all about how Dertour works and drank 50 gallons of sparkling water and various fruit juices.
  • Some nice dog photos someone taped up in their office. I don’t know these dogs, but I named them Scruffy, Biscuits and Carl.
  • An impressive, but dangerous lobby water feature which – surprisingly – I did not fall in.
  • Me, trying to look professional, but also keeping within arm’s reach of the cookies.

While in Germany, we also hosted a couple events for German travel agents. The first one was at a California surf-themed restaurant in Frankfurt. They had bottles of Sierra Nevada beer available, so that was a pretty good pull for Sacramento. Also, this is what they think a typical California style meal looks like:

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I know it’s blurry, but that’s a burger, ribs, chicken wings and fries with a few tortilla chips thrown on top. Basically, they think we’re monsters. And, heck, they may be right.

The next event was at an awesome cooking school/restaurant place owned by a German celebrity chef. I guess the chef knew that I was from “America’s Farm-to-fork Capital” because I got selected to make béarnaise sauce in front of everyone. The first step in making Bearnaise sauce is to laugh, over and over again, at your friend’s joke about “Weekend at Bearnaise.” The second step is to push the button on a stick blender while the actual chef puts all the proper ingredients into the pot. From what I could tell, the main ingredients are 20 pounds of butter and every egg you can find.

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These travel agent events are a pretty nice way to teach the folks who are actually selling vacations to travelers all about Sacramento. As per usual, out of 200 travel agents I spoke with, only 4 of them had ever been to Sacramento…and, of course, they loved it. Seriously, when I do run into the rare person who has actually been to Sacramento, they CANNOT stop talking about how great it is.

So we all got to cook together and learn about California tourism along the way. The fire department only had to come out one time and it wasn’t even my fault.

Here’s the California crew, jet-lagged and with no sleep completely nailing a bus selfie on the first try….more or less:

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Then it was off to London for more client events. This one had bowling and a screening of “The Accountant,” but I was pretty focused on eating cake pops and drinking pink champagne. I believe this is the part of the job description where it says “other duties as assigned.” I mean, those cake pops weren’t going to eat themselves. And my pledge to all the good people of Sacramento is that I will eat as many cake pops as it takes to increase economic impact to our region…even if I have to wash them down with really fancy pink champagne until my stomach hurts and I have to discreetly leave the room.

Here are some official stats about this sales mission:

  • Duration – 9 nights
  • Shirts packed – 2
  • Travel professionals met: 300+
  • Cake pops eaten – approx. 25
  • Sacramento brochures handed out – 200
  • Enemies made – Surprisingly, zero
  • Hotels – 5
  • Times I had to ask the front desk to remind me of my room number – 3
  • Times I said “bon jour” when I actually meant “merci” – at least 5
  • Times I got on the subway the wrong direction – 3
  • Movies watched on flight home – The Lost Boys, The Shining, Conjuring 2, Thelma & Louise
  • Times I said “If you like eating and drinking, you’ll love Sacramento” – 100+
  • Missed flights for which I had to be re-routed through Phoenix – 1
  • Hotels with an Eiffel Tower view – 1
  • Hotels with a view of dead birds caught in some kind of metal netting – 1
  • Bags of Haribo gummies purchased – 8
  • Aprons I “accidentally” stole from a restaurant thinking it was a gift – 1

That’s about it. Can’t wait for the next one!

 

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