Saturday, May 26, 2012

Washington DC Calls in the Name of Business

When my job description said 10% travel, that was no joke.  Chicago, Memphis, Orlando, and Seattle have all been graced with my presence.  Washington DC now joins the list.

I was there this month for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) annual show, which was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.  Like most of the events our magazine attends, it's a combination of educational panels and an expo floor.  Many of our major advertisers are there so it's a good opportunity to connect in person.  Luckily for me, Mike and I went to DC for our honeymoon so I wasn't distracted by the lure of the museums, lol.

For those who've never attended a tradeshow before, it's a long day of work.  While you may be in a cool city, you're stuck inside a convention center conducting business.  My primary job is to meet with exhibitors.  I get 15-25 minutes to gain an overview of their company and products, looking for story ideas along the way. 

In many ways, just by setting up a booth appointment, I'm smoothing the way for our sales team.  It's not a direct effort because I'm oblivious to their needs, but they can nonetheless leverage my simply being there to their advantage.    

You will have to excuse the horrible pictures on this post - my camera batteries crapped out so I was left with my camera phone, which you can see really sucks. 

This is what a tradeshow floor looks like.  This particular show had upwards of 40 rows of vendors.  Zone booth scheduling is crucial so you're not huffing it from one end to the other all day.

This was a decent show.  I prefer going to more educational sessions, but that wasn't the primary mission of this event.  All I can ask for on these trips is for my schedule to remain on time.  When delays and mix-ups happen, that's when my patience starts to go.

When I wasn't getting my networking on, I was holed up in the historic Mayflower Renaissance.  I don't think I've stayed at a hotel this nice before - apparently it holds some kind of record for gold foiling and is a favorite for politicians and prominent organizations needing an impressive ballroom.

The lobby (source)
Anyways, I had a tiny bit of downtime one evening to treat myself out.  Even though my legs were ready to fall off, I could not bypass the National Geographic Museum when it was literally across from my hotel.

With only 45 minutes before close, I made a B-line to the Titanic exhibit.  You might recall that prior to the hell of my Orlando trip, I was excited to see a Titanic museum there.  Since that never happened, this was my makeup splurge.

For $8 in admission and the bragging rights to say I'd been to this museum, the price was totally worth it.  The exhibit didn't include any artifacts from the wreck, but it did include prop pieces for the movie and footage from a brand-new documentary about the wreck.  It was an enjoyable way to kill off any remaining strength in my legs, lol.  

To-scale model
Getting fancy with my camera phone

This was pretty neat.  This image of the wreck was projected from above but when you got close, it revealed how the ship looked before sinking.  A totally ingenious use of technology and super kid-friendly.
One of the actual ROVs (remote operating vehicles) used to visit the wreck.  On loan from WHOI.

This model of the wreck is really cool for two reasons.  First, it's the same model Cameron used for the underwater shots in Titanic.  Second, it's so accurate, it's actually used to map expeditions to the site.  All of the new research about the ship is focusing on documenting the wreck like a crime scene and they use this to plan where to enter the ship with the ROVs. 

After touring the museum, my whole lower body was screaming for me to stop abusing it.  Instead of finding a nice restaurant in the neighborhood, I just went back to the hotel.  Their restaurant was just as nice as the rest of the place and I supped on pork chops with roasted plums and jalapeno-cornbread.

Cafe Promenade

In light of DC, this kind of trip is precisely why I need to reserve a credit card exclusively for business.  Between my hotel, cab rides, internet access fees, and meals, I racked up over $900 in three days.  I would never be able to fund a trip like this out of checking alone.  It's clear the company is giving me more travel responsibility so it's great motivation to live a lifestyle free of credit card debt. 

Business trips and visits to family account for all of my summer travel plans.  Are you going anywhere fun?


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