It is that time of year again. Time for me to hit the road for almost 3 weeks this year to do a couple of trade shows. Unlike Willie, the traveling and “trade showing” has become pretty tedious for me after doing it for 23 years. All the state associations have shows. The good news at this point in my career I can send some of our 16 employees to do the ones I do not want to do. Once I get on the road, it is the friends and people I connect with that makes it fun and worthwhile. However the run up is tiresome in itself. Booking flights, cars and hotel rooms is not getting easier, it is getting harder. There are so many online choices out there you are never sure you are getting the best deal!
This year I leave Monday for 2 weeks in Florida visiting friends then the ARVC trade show in Daytona Beach. Then up to Cincinnati to visit the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park folks at their annual convention.
Over the years with all the traveling I have done form Anchorage to Key West, I thought I would share a few things that have happened to me and a couple of travel tips.
My Travel Tales:
Some humorous and some serious, hope you enjoy them:
1: Sharing a Room
When we first started Campground Manager Software@/ BookYourSite™ in 1993 as you can imagine, we had no money. We had no investors, we lived on our visa cards for the first little while. I had this idea to do a partnership with Woodalls. At the time they were headquartered just outside of Chicago. Linda Profaizer was running the show at that time. So we drove the 8 hours (no cash to buy flights) in Jim’s (my partner) father’s Oldsmobile to their office and checked into a Super 8 near their office. When I was checking us in , the front office clerk looked at us and said, “One bed or two?” I looked him straight in the eye and said, ” I will do a lot of things for this company but that ain’t one of them. Two please.”
2: Mistaken Identity
A few times in my career we have been working our booth at a trade show and people have mistaken us for someone else. One in particular stands out. We were working our booth many years ago in Orlando FL at the ARVC show. A gentleman comes up to me and starts yelling and gesturing wildly that we ripped him off, that we don’t answer the phone and our product sucks. That his wife has spent hundreds of hours trying to figure out the software and I should reimburse him for that. We had a booth full of people at the time and he was making a real scene. So I calmly asked him what his park name was and then went to my laptop. I punched in his park name only to find out that he was not even a customer. We are Campground Manager and he was using Campground M_____. His wife appeared at his side and asked him what he was making such a ruckus about, that he had the wrong booth. He turned the color of beets found in the fields outside of Taber Alberta. It has happened a few times but that one sticks in my craw. Did not even apologize, just walked away.
3: Snotty Maitre’d
Over the years I have traveled to meetings and lots of time I fly in the night before. So I usually get to the restaurant around 8 or 9 pm after checking in. I remember one time I grabbed a newspaper and went down to eat in Denver. When I got to the restaurant in the hotel, I was obviously by myself and the maitre’d said, “Table for one?” in a real condescending manner. I said, “No, I have a whole platoon out in the truck”. The restaurant was empty! I just walked away and ordered room service.
4: My Big Mouth
I was flying somewhere and if it is one thing I have learned on all the flights I have been on, it is to be nice to the flight attendants. They are just doing their jobs. In some cases they want to be there even less then you do. So I always make a point to say nice things and greetings. Except this one time I was on a United flight and the flight attendant who was serving me was obviously pregnant. So I asked her, “When is the big day?”
She replied, “You better be talking about my birthday because I am too old to have any more kids”.
Whoops. I turned the colour of beets found in the fields outside of Taber Alberta.
5: Small Airplanes
For those of you who do not know much about us, we have two offices. The main office and help desk is located next to the campground we own in Niagara Falls On. We had an office in Calgary Alberta. However we closed that and my wife and I moved to a small mountain ski town called Kimberley BC and opened another one. There is a small airport here, close the the neighboring town of Cranbrook called Canadian Rockies International Airport. With a big prestigous name like that, I figured how small can it be? When we were checking out houses in the area the real estate agent told us, yep great airport. Air Canada flies in there. I figured perfect, short flight back to Calgary or Vancouver and away we go with all my connections.
What they neglected to tell me was it was Air Canada Jazz, their feeder airlines.
So the first time I flew out of Cranbrook heading to Phoenix I checked in at the Air Canada desk.
I asked the clerk could I please have an aisle seat? She said, ” I can do better than that, I can give you both an window and an aisle.” Sixteen seat Beechcraft airplane that I like to call the aluminum tube of death. Plane is so small we have to circle around as we climb to get out of the valley and get over the mountains. When I get off that plane I am halfway to my pilot’s license. I am OK with it now, but it took some getting used to.
I got a hundred stories like this. However being out on the road and meeting friends and customers I have earned in the last 23 years in this business is tiring but ultimately rewarding. People are what make the world go round and traveling is where the rubber hits the road and you get the chance to enjoy those same people.
In today’s world, people often high behind snarky emails. They say stuff in email which they would never say in person. Tradeshows and traveling bridges that gap. There is still some hand to hand combat in the booth but at least it is an honest engagement.
Some see us the ARVC show in Booth 501 in Daytona. November 3-6/2015.