Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rendez Vous: Conferencing French Style

Ah conferences.  Where we ditch the t-shirts & jeans and dress like grown-ups, try to act professional, and shmooze our way through 1,000 conversations while selling our product with enthusiasm.  That's what we're here to do.
(A.) This is the first time I've ever seen Simon with a shaved face, tie, and/or khakis.  I didn't even recognize him when he walked up. (B.) Crissa and I planned to be simultaneously over-squinty.  It was on purpose. But don't let this picture fool you...This is as normal as this conference gets.

Yah that's more like it.

"Rendez Vous" = Huge France-wide tourism conference where we meet with Tour Operators from all over the world and talk and talk and talk about all our tours.  Luckily, we're the most fun booth at the conference, thanks to the Brunette Trifecta.
We like to pretend we're sisters.
AND ANGELS.  Ok really please see exhibit A, man in the booth next to ours, and it doesn't take much to figure out why we were the most fun.  Segways, bikes, banners, brunettes...or sitting at empty booth table with man in suit. Your choice.

And it's about to get better, as Simon displays his amazing feats of Segway agility.

The swan...
The ballerina...
And my personal favorite...the Tango.
What form!  Excellent toe point, Simon, 30 points!

Whatever that gets you.

After a hard morning of looking ridiculous, playing on Segways, and talking till our voices started wearing out, it was time for lunch.  And let me tell you.  The French don't PLAY.  Lunch time at any other typical American conference would be, what? Like sandwiches and chips?  Or if we're really talking fancy, it would be some dried out chicken breast with some sort of cream sauce, and a slice of thawed-out cheesecake.  Ho, ho, not so at this conference.

They even had croissants in the morning, and my favorite type of pastry, chouquette puff pastries in the late morning, at the espresso bar.  Yep.  You heard that.  We're in FRANCE.

We get to the lunch area to be greeted by fully set tables stocked with bottles of wine (red and white), bottled water (still and sparkling), and the first course plated, ready to go, a creamy velouté with shrimp and toasted crostini.  As the first course.

Second course was duck breast (albeit slightly overcooked), and for dessert...
St. Honoré pastries!!  Pastry puffs filled with cream, next to vanilla whipped cream, on a bed of crisp pastry layers. Simon & Crissa left to go man the booth while Jillian and I finished up.  We were lovin' it!
And by "it", I mean we were lovin' polishing off Simon & Crissa's pastries!!  Neither of us are the type to let a pastry go untouched.  It's like an unspoken code.  I just don't understand people who don't like dessert.  Who are these people?  And then coffee.  After all that, I wanted to crawl under the table and take a nap.

But there were more Segway tricks to be done.

Look at that guy in the suit, he refused to acknowledge the beauty of Simon's performance.  The smile says he's loving it and wants to watch, but the grown-up part of him tells him to keep on walking and pretend like it's normal.

Now let's take a moment to reflect upon the visual representation of my blood, sweat, and tears over the past 8 months...there it is...a banner.
Ok there has been very little blood, but there has been sweat, and there have been a lot of tears.  I cry when I'm stressed & overwhelmed, it just. happens.  And that happened a lot.  Still does sometimes.

Crissa is my Easy Pass partner in crime across the 'ol ocean, and this picture surely communicates the professionalism, good will, and teamwork which we exude towards one another.

The next morning at the conference, Sadie took Jillian's place, and this is the morning where all of the banners decide to break.  They'd had enough.  So we had to be extra creative in the little time we had before potential clients would start flooding our booth with its falling-over and refusing-to-stay up banners.

This was a work of genius by Sadie...
jamming a crappy pen into the end to hold of the force of this 6 foot high sign that is stretched out and threatening to snap shut at any moment and probably maim somebody.
That's craftsmanship right there.

Then another banner collapses, refusing to keep its pole in place, because today the pole decides it will NOT fit into its spot.  Here Sadie tries jamming the end of the metal pole with a massive U-lock, hoping to get it smaller so we can wedge it into the bottom opening. We also tried jumping on it, which proved to be less successful.
And thus our own version of Iwo Jima commenced.

In the end, all the banners were ghetto rigged into submission, and we were once again ready for a day of talking until our voices gave out.

Let's review: Croissants & chouquettes. Lunch. Wine. Segways. Teaching people to ride Segways. Drinking espresso every 2 hours.  That guy, still in his boring booth, just sitting there.

The constant talking for 8 hours straight was exhausting, but all in all, if you have to go to a conference, France is the place to do it.

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