Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Smart way of organizing conferences

 Here're few tips on how to organize conferences in a smart way
  • Identify a theme/topic/subject, chose a fancy title
  • Approach key people specializing on the above theme/topic/subject and request them to speak at the event. Many of them might refuse outright, but coax them to say “Tentatively Yes, I’ll try to come”. That person knows he/she won’t be coming, you know that he/she won’t come. However, go out and publicize this celebrity speaker. “Mr X is coming to the event, how can you miss it”. Use this person (more than one of them, preferably) as a bait to attract other speakers, sponsors and participants. (You don’t have to compensate anyone for “unfortunate, last minute cancellation” of this celebrity)
  • Invite a few “Social Media experts”. They will provide the initial boost on social media, by posting updates on twitter, facebook that they’re attending this particular event and how great it is
  • Create some hype online, either hiring some social media savvy college students as volunteers, or partnering with a social media agency (or mutual understanding basis)
  • Approach sponsors- depending on how much hype you could create and how much deep you can dig into a company’s pockets, pitch for various types of sponsorships- gold, platinum etc. Offer free passes (companies will give these free passes to their employees/customers and you’ll be assured of some minimum audience). Offer speaker slots (off the record), so that company executives can come on stage and indirectly boast about their product and services, offer publicity booths, displaying promo videos, mention of their name everywhere. Tell them how sponsorship lots are being picked up and what great opportunity they’ll miss if they don’t decide asap. Eventually few will fall for the trap.
  • Now start selling the ticket. Offer early bird discounts and group discounts. Some will buy because they want to cash in on the offer, others will buy it because they’ll anyway get it reimbursed by their company
  • If lot of speaker lots are empty, extend lunch and tea breaks. Call it “Networking lunch”, “Networking tea break” etc
  • If there’re lot of speakers, run parallel tracks. Those who pay for full conference will get to attend only half of it, but who cares.
  • If the number of attendees are less, ask the hotel for a smaller room (so that it looks full). Also announce spot bookings with nice girls at the reception, so that people won’t say NO to overpriced registration charge.
  • See if you can get a sponsor for tag, conference folder, bag, dinner, pen, paper, podium, transportation etc. This way all your expenses are taken care.
  • Collect business cards, in the temptation of giving away prizes. End of the conference, sponsoring companies will have loads of contact details, to spam unsuspecting customers with offers
  • Get some tweeps and bloggers to live blog/live tweet. The hashtag may not trend in your city, but see if it trends in your street/building. If yes, hype it as much as you’d have, if it had trended worldwide
  • Last minute, announce the cancellation of celebrity speaker (step 2, remember?). If slots are left, push in a panel discussion or unconference.
  • End of the conference, attendees who came at company’s expense won’t have anything to complain. Those who came paying their own money can feel contended that they got good lunch. Sponsoring companies are happy to see a hall full of audience and their brands forced on audience via multiple means, organizers get to pocket money from all corners.
No offense to genuine organizers. Above are inspired by my observations at various conferences attended during past few hours

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Times Square, New York

Times Square is probably world's most expensive place to set up a shop. I took a walk around this place. A grand variant of Bengaluru's MG Road

If you'd like to join US Armed forces, this is where you can try your luck
McDonald's at Times Square:
Mc Donald's founder had once asked B-School students what business they think he is in. When students told "Burger business", he told them that they are wrong. Mc Donald's is in the business of real estate. Today they own precious real estate in every popular streets of the world. If Burger business was to drop, they can easily start selling something else.

Madam Tussaud's Museum is located nearby, on 42nd street. Since the entry fee was 32 $ and I didn't have enough time to explore the place, I returned without going inside.

Also see: 9/11 Memorial * Empire State Building * Statue of Liberty * Ellis Island

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Empire State Building, NY

Empire State Building was the first place I visited in NY. I found on internet that this place opens at 8 AM, earlier than other places, so decided to head there first.

Empire State Building is a tall building, with two observatories, one at 86th level (1050 ft above ground level), other at 102 level (1250 ft above ground level). Building otherwise houses office space, mall and restaurants. It is also touted to be an energy efficient building-there were few boards on display highlighting the green initiatives of the building. I went only till 86th floor. As I reached the venue by about 8.15, the crowd was less.Entry fee is US$ 23 for adults. Those who could pay more (47.5$), an express ticket enables priority access and access to 102 level.

Going all the way up gives a wonderful view of new york city, incuding but not limited to Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn bridge, the rivers, world trade centres, Hudson River (where once US Airways Flight 1549 landed safely during Jan 2009 (details)) and the city's tall buildings.

Empire State Building is open to visitors till 2AM in the morning. Night time view would have been fantastic.

Visit took a total of 1 hour approx and I then headed to Battery Park to board ferry to Statue of Liberty.

Also see: Ellis island * Statue of Liberty * 9/11 Memorial *

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ellis Island, New York

I had no idea what Ellis Island was or its significant till I actually arrived there and went through the exhibits and videos. After exploring Statue of Liberty, Ferry took us to Ellis Island. I got down expecting to explore another small island with a park or something. It was quite touchy to know about this place and its history.

Ellis island was where immigrants landed in large numbers during 1880-1024. During those times, Industrial revolution had rendered many people jobless in europe. War, colonialism, drought, dictatorship and other incidents had forced thousands of people in Europe to abandon their home land and migrate elsewhere, in search of economic opportunities, safety, and a chance of survival.  United States was their sole hope. These people sold their little belongings to buy a ship ticket to US. New York was their port of entry in most of the cases and they were dropped off at Ellis Island for immigration clearance.This period represents largest ever migration in the history.

US immigration laws were not so strict those days and as much as 98% of who arrived would eventually cleared immigration. Others were turned down and sent back- either because they had contagious diseases or couldn't prove their worthiness to earn a livelihood.

This might sound simple to read, but viewing the pictures, artifacts and videos here gives whole new perspective.

Most of the immigrants who arrived at Ellis island arrived in bad condition, after spending several weeks in overcrowded ships, surviving on minimal food and facilities. Their hope of having a better life held them strong. Some had been separated from their families, others had lost them in war. Few how didn't have money to pay for travel, agreed to work as laborer for 4-5 years in the fields and factories of landlords who paid for their transportation.

Once in Ellis island, they had to wait for several days for their turn to come. They waited patiently with whatever belongings they had. Each of the wannable immigrants were subjected to medical tests, were questioned on the money they had, if they had any relative/employer in US, the skills they had and so on. Those who qualified immigration officer's scrutiny were eventually taken in a ferry to New York City. Those who couldn't make it, were deported back at steam-liner's expense. Sometimes few in a family made it while others didn't. The separation at times was permanent.

As much as half of American nationals today have their ancestors who came in via Ellis island. Hence this place resembles emotional importance to many Americans. Eventually native Americans raised their voice against large number of immigration that was taking place, resulting in stricter laws of immigration. Subsequently US govt took over immigration. It was mandated that those who intend to immigrate should get a visa at their home country US Consulate. As Air transport came into prominence, immigrants stated arriving by Air and also at ports other than NY. Sometime in 1960, there were more staff in Ellis island than immigrants, hence it was decided to close it down as an immigration centre and convert it into a memorial.

Today tourists come here in large number, after they visit statue of liberty. The building houses lots of photos which are a century old, depicting the state of immigrants in 19th century, reasons for large scale immigration in those days, challenges and conflicts and so on. Guided tours are available at regular intervals and audio clippings are available in multiple languages. A video of 30 minutes duration was shown to us. It was touchy when one immigrant voice says "For us, police were always cruel people who tortured us and took away our belongings and family members. The idea of democracy and the idea that police are here to help people was completely new to us"

World trade centre 9-11 memorial park

About 11 years ago when I first saw the pictures of aircraft hitting world trade centre on TV, I didn't have an idea on the enormity of that incident. At that time I was in Bengaluru for my CET counseling (to know which Engineering college I could get into). 11 years later, it feels touchy to be at that place where the towers once stood, watch it being reconstructed and know more about the tragedy first hand.

2011 marked 10th anniversary of World Trade Centre attack. The two towers which were hit by planes and were shattered down, are being re constructed. Construction work is still in progress. A memorial park was inaugurated last year.

I paid a visit to this memorial park. One needs a pass to visit this park. So I registered for the pass online and before heading to the park, I went to 20 Vesey street nearby to collect the pass. With the pass in hand I arrived at the WTC location, only to be greeted by a long long queue. I thought entering a park would be a simple thing, but this place has lot of security and huge number of visitors. So spent about 45 minutes in queues before entering the park.

9/11 memorial is a small campus with 2 pools, an under construction museum and few trees. The two pools represent two towers. They contain a 30 foot waterfall, entering into a void at the centre of each pool. Names of those 2977 who died in September 2001 attack, including 400+ first responders, those who were in various planes and buildings are scribed on the pool. The pools were reportedly designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker.

A museum is being constructed in the park. It is not yet open ready. Adjacent to the pool one can see heavy construction work and the under construction twin towers


Nearby: Empire State Building * Statue of Liberty * Ellis Island * Times Square *

Friday, May 18, 2012

Audi Q7 Limousines

Audi Q7 Limo
My airport transfer to hotel was in a Limo (Amore Limousines), but that was a regular GMC slightly bigger than a normal SUV. When I returned to hotel from work the other day, we had a surprise. A huge limousine was parked outside the hotel. Incidentally, it was an Audi Q7 suv, extended and converted into Limo.

It was there for promotional purpose. The company which kept it there for display, D&G Limousines has on offer several other limos, made from RangeRover sport and other American automobile brands (Cadillac, Lincoln, GMC etc). These cars are rented on daily basis and often hired by wedding parties and for other events.

Leaving you with couple of photos of the limo.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Coming up: A quick US visit

I'll be away for a week, visiting the United states. My first visit to US. Few earlier opportunities had failed to materialize due to recession, not having right visa type etc.
This is not a leisure trip. Have lot of work related responsibilities to deliver, so time for other purposes is going to be very minimal. Need to see how I can make the most of my time.

On one of the legs I'll be flying in a double Decker jumbo jet, Airbus A380, a first for me. Of course my seat will be in lower deck economy class and not in first floor.

Blogging will be light for another week to 10 days.

I am using this excuse to publish some photos of a toy plane which I was tempted buy from a roadside guy recently

Similar: Chile calling * Kingfisher toy plane *

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Not just jockeying

I happened to meet the owner of a Jockey exclusive store in Chennai. Since it was a recently opened store, I asked about the investments and ROI.

Below is what he said. I do not know if he is exaggerating, but I didn't have a reason to suspect him.

While my guess was that he would have invested about 10 lakhs in the store, he tells me that actual amount is 6 times that. 60 lakhs to open an inner wear store. 30 lakhs is the cost of inventory, 10 lakhs is the advance, 20 lakhs spent on interiors.

Store rent is 60k per month and for operational break even, he needs a revenue of about 6 lakhs per month. Assuming an average jockey unit costs Rs 300, he needs to sell over 70 pieces a day.

Almost all franchisee models are priced in similar range.

Now that is the mathematics it takes. All of us who though a savings of few lakhs is enough in case of distress, watchout.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

School assignments: For old times sake

While at my native place recently, stumbled upon my school time books and assignments. It was nostalgic to go through some of the work I'd undertaken 12-14 years ago...

Most of them were English language assignments
The person featured here was my junior those days. I had asked him if he has a spare photo to share and had used it in this assignment. Now he's all grown up, well settled in US
 Getting 25/25 is a luxury. I still continue to commit silly mistakes...
A class 6 booklet... This one is from 1994-95 I guess (This one is in Kannada)
 Class 8 Science text book.
One and only Wren and Martin. If my English is bearable and reasonably error free, credit goes partly to this book and partly to my English madam. Some of the fiction books on right.
Read: Satyam fond memories- Parking sticker* My highschool projects *

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Photos clicked at Chariot Beach resort, Mahabalipuram

Recently I was at Chariot Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram for an event. Sharing some of the photos clicked around the campus.
 Close to the sea, the resort had some structual elements lying unattended. I guess these will be used as bar counter or party stage later in the night.

The cottages were being fixed, with additional layer of natural roofing. Workers working in harsh sun to finish them in time, so that resort's customers can enjoy under it.
Also read: Stone sculptures of Mahabalipuram *