My First RBC Canadian Open Experience

This blog post was originally published to the RBC Meetings & Events Connect page on August 27th, 2014. It details my experience working at the Canadian Open, and I thought it would be interesting to share on my own blog as well.

If you’ve read my first post on my internship experience with the Meetings & Events team, you’ll know that I’ve had a busy but incredible summer. 18 total events later, I have gained so much valuable experience and insight into the world of corporate events and meetings.

One particular event that I wanted to talk about was the RBC Canadian Open (RBCCO). Taking place at the Royal Montreal Golf Club for the tenth time in the championship’s history, I was fortunate enough to be able to work on-site at the event in L’Île-Bizard for a week in July.

The event was attended by 95,000+ guests and 1,600 volunteers, with media coverage reaching 270 million households internationally. It was my first glimpse into a world-class PGA TOUR event, and gave me great insight into how RBC creates a “Best in Class” experience for its clients and guests.

Every single aspect of the Canadian Open was aimed at creating that unique experience for its guests. I personally worked in Hospitality for the majority of the week, specifically in the Executive Valet and at the RBC Skybox at the 18th green. I witnessed how guests were taken care of from the very first point of contact when they arrived at the RBCCO, to when they departed after an exciting and unforgettable day.

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Similarly, I got to help with our on-site activation in the Fan Experience Tent. Guests got to be in a Golf Canada magazine cover shoot (and take home a physical copy of the magazine with their cover!), meet special guests such as PK Subban and our RBC Olympians, and enter to win a signed Team RBC golf bag on our interactive touch-screen displays. It made me so happy to greet and assist fans, help them learn more about RBC’s golf program and business offerings, and put a smile on their faces.

New this year was our #RBCGolf4Kids campaign for charity, in which Team RBC golfers engaged the public in a fun social media challenge benefitting children’s charities around the world. In addition, we introduced a VIP package for RBC employees called “Family Day” as our way of saying “thank you”. I actually got to assist with the massively successful event, helping to provide that exclusive, VIP experience.

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The #RBCGolf4Kids selfie mirror!

My limits were definitely put to the test to that week, as we had very long hours and early mornings, with little sleep. Despite being thoroughly exhausted by the end of the week, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything, nor could I have replicated the experience anywhere else. It was absolutely incredible to be a part of something so big and high-profile, and to know that my work matters and makes an impact.

Thank you RBC and to my amazing team for making my summer as wonderful as it has been. I have learned so much and had remarkable opportunities that I would have never experienced otherwise. To all the RBCers and partners that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with- thank you, and I hope our paths will cross again in the near future!

“The Entire Neighbourhood In Your Back Pocket” – A Yellow Pages Comeback Story

A week or two after I arrived in Toronto, I noticed that my closest TTC subway station was splattered with yellow overnight.

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Upon closer inspection, it turned out that Yellow Pages had completely taken over the station- every possible advertising spot and even places that probably weren’t intended for any media were splashed with yellow. As I go through this station every day, I’ve had countless opportunities to view and analyze the ads- normal people probably wouldn’t pay as much attention as a marketer such as myself, but I was just so captivated by the ads.

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I found the campaign to be quirky, engaging, relatable, and actually useful. It presented useful information about each station in a humorous, down-to-earth way that anyone could relate to, and the large media buy ensured that you wouldn’t miss it. For a newcomer like myself, it allowed me to get a better sense of the different neighbourhoods in the city, and brightened up a normally mundane task of waiting for my train.

It is no secret that Yellow Pages and phone books in general have become extinct in recent years. With online and mobile directories, search engine optimization, as well as consumer review websites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages has found itself decreasing in relevance to business owners and consumers alike. Why thumb through a heavy phone book when you can simply type in what you’re looking for and get instant results on your smartphone? And why spend money advertising in a place that no longer reaches your target audience?

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However, I think Yellow Pages is taking good measures to increase its relevancy in this day and age, and stay top-of-mind for customers. Yellow Pages is now highly digitized- with mobile apps ranging from its original purpose of finding and discovering businesses, to getting great deals on Canadian goods. It’s aim is to help Canadians find what they are looking for, quickly, and to help simplify their lives.

As for the campaign itself, I thought that it was well thought out, and overall nicely executed. They chose a great spot to advertise- at St. George station, which is a busy transfer hub and located right at the University of Toronto, which gets a lot of traffic from a young, tech-savvy crowd. They did place similar ads in other stations, but so far the biggest media buy I’ve seen has been at St. George where it just completely occupied the station, leaving no room for other companies to advertise, and capturing even the most passive of customers.

However, the ads urge TTC customers to download the app, and speaking from a personal point of view, I don’t know if this is the most helpful thing seeing as there is no reception down in the subway station and line, so incoming transit users may see the ad and then forget about it by the time they regain mobile reception and reach their destination. I personally did not feel compelled to download the app.

But on the positive side, the communication was very clear, and the ads make it evident that Yellow Pages is a helpful tool to guide you in your everyday life. It is really hard to ignore, and is relatable and attention-grabbing to the masses.

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I don’t know how much longer the ads will be up for (it has been a couple of weeks), but I really enjoy looking at them every time I pass by. I think this is a great example of a company that has faced challenges in an increasingly digital world, and is regaining its foothold and relevancy through digitizing its own product, presenting a clear value proposition, and devising clever marketing strategies.

Toronto is an advertising playground, and I love doing short analyses on different campaigns and discussing them with my peers. I hope to see more innovative campaigns like this during the summer!

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I couldn’t agree more.

Note: The only way I was able to get photos without hoards of people was to be there at 6AM. Sometimes there are upsides to being awake before the sun comes up 🙂

Volkswagen Knocks It Out Of The Park With “Don’t Text And Drive” Ad

The first thing I do every morning while eating breakfast is scroll through my Twitter feed and catch up on all the marketing industry and world news that I’ve missed. And whenever there’s an ad that captures my attention, it makes me excited and I make a mental note to share it. This is one of them.

There’s an ad by Volkswagen and Ogilvy Beijing that’s been going around, in which the automobile manufacturer heeds the public to keep their eyes on the road and not use their mobile devices. Seems like an ordinary PSA, but VW takes a totally different spin on it at a movie theatre. Take a look at the footage:

This ad plays heavily on shock factor- but in a way that is highly reminiscent of a real life situation. You can see the people looking bored as the car just drives along, and the sudden impact captivates the audience in a way that will not be soon forgotten. Of course, this begs the question of how exactly the technology component of the ad worked in enabling the audience’s mobile devices- how exactly did they get the information needed? But questions aside, involving and engaging your audience without them even realizing it, while getting the shock factor just right- I’d go so far as to call it genius.

This is how you create an impactful message that will stick in a consumer’s mind. I hope more companies and agencies take this tactful approach to getting a message across, especially when it comes to public awareness and social issues.

The Inevitable Demise Of All Bookstores?

This morning, I was enjoying my weekly Sunday routine of brunch, coffee, and errands, when I noticed on my way home that Oscar’s Art Books had a closing sign in the window.

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As a lover of anything surrounding books, bookstores, and reading, I was dismayed. I love spending afternoons browsing small, independent bookstores, coffee in hand, as well as large chains such as Chapters. I rarely browse or order books off of Amazon, and I do not particular enjoy using eBooks either. I decided to go inside and see for myself.

There were a few people milling about, and the sales associate was friendly and welcoming as usual. Oscar’s has been one of my favourite places to browse and purchase Moleskines- they have tons of different styles, and sometimes have 20% off sales, making them cheaper than what their giant neighbour Chapters sells them for. They also have a really neat selection of calendars, books for adults and children, and specialty large-format art books. I love the cozy environment and atmosphere, and browsing the quirky merchandise and new books.

They have been in business for 24 years, but they are definitely not the first or last independent bookstore in Vancouver to close. However, they are well-loved by the Vancouver community (especially the niche art community that they serve) and are one of the longest and last-standing bookstores.

Oscar’s official statement posted on its Facebook page reads:

“It’s been a great run, being on Broadway for 24 years, what a show! We’ve always moved with the times but unfortunately the Internet has taken over. Our sincerest thanks to all the great customers and the Vancouver art community who have supported Oscar’s as an independent bookstore throughout the years – thank you for your love and loyalty.”

Even though I am part of the millennial generation, I have a great love for books that time nor technology will ever take away. Bookstores are one of the few places that I feel at peace in, and can truly relax in. Growing up, the majority of my peers found it odd that I actually loved to read and write, and that I actually liked spending money on books rather than on more typical tween purchases.

I can spend hours just browsing new titles, reading (if permitted), looking at the cool merchandise, and I can seldom resist walking away without purchasing a book. I love the feeling of reading a physical book- unless I have to, I will always prefer to have a physical copy over an eBook version, even if it’s more expensive. I rarely, if ever, turn to Amazon to purchase my books.

I would gladly pay the extra costs to support these stores, but unfortunately, most people aren’t. Every time an independent bookstore closes, my heart aches. Most people are quick to blame large companies such as Chapters/Indigo for the shutdowns, but Oscar’s has cited the growing popularity of Amazon and usage of eBook readers as its reason. In fact, Chapters faces immense pressures from the same sources too- but it has larger amounts of capital and resources to sustain itself, unlike these small, independently-owned bookstores. But how long can it sustain itself for?

My biggest fear is that one day, not only will independent bookstores no longer exist, but even Chapters may go out of business. If that day ever comes, I will be really upset. In the meantime, I will continue to spend lovely Sunday afternoons browsing in my happy place, losing myself in a good book, and I will continue to support brick and mortar bookstores. I hope that enough people appreciate literature as much as I do, so that these companies are able to survive and thrive through all the technological changes in today’s society.

I’ve had the time of my life – Enterprize Canada 2014

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How do I even begin to describe the immense love and passion I have for Enterprize?

For those of you who do not know what Enterprize Canada is, it is the largest student-run entrepreneurship organization in Canada, and we aim to inspire, promote innovation, and instill the entrepreneurial mindset and passion into students and the community.

When people think “Entrepreneurship”, they automatically think of starting your own business. But it is so, so much more than that. Having the entrepreneurial mindset- that drive, passion, and desire to constantly innovate, improve, and excel- THAT is what we want people to understand. This mindset will carry you a long way and help you achieve success no matter what path you decide to pursue.

Our two main offerings are our Conference and Business Model Competition. This past weekend, our SOLD OUT conference took place at the Fairmont Waterfront, where we were able to share all our hard work for the past ten months with 250 delegates and speakers. Packed with amazing keynote speakers, workshops, an innovation challenge, the competition finals, a cocktail networking reception, and TONS of food, I just couldn’t help but feel so proud, seeing all of our long hours; our blood, sweat, and tears finally come together.

My biggest hope from the conference was that we were able to inspire and bring about a fresh perspective to our delegates. Even as a part of the Organizing Committee, I felt so inspired. The conference pushed me to think and act out of the box, to not be afraid to chase my dreams, and that I am stronger, smarter, and braver than I think. Getting up on the stage facing a room full of people with a microphone can be daunting- yet I did it multiple times (on a rather impromptu note) running on 30 minutes of sleep, five coffees, and lots of adrenaline.

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For the past ten months, these people have been my family, and Enterprize was something we were pouring our heart and soul into. The best part about working with such amazing, supportive people is that you really do become a family- sharing our lives and our progress on Enterprize with each other every Wednesday night has been something I’ve looked forward to, and I’m sad that it has to come to an end.

Personally, I have not pushed myself beyond my call of duty so much before, but that is what I just did since I joined the team in April. Go above and beyond, or go home. This past weekend (and honestly over the past few months), I’ve had the strangest mix of emotions- adrenaline, extreme fatigue, joy, excitement, stress, and peace all at once.

As I write this on the plane en route to Toronto for the next exciting chapter of my reading week, I can’t help but smile and feel nostalgic already. We made it, guys. We pulled off something amazing and brilliant and I could not be prouder of us. I have nothing but #eprizelove for all of you.

I’m going to miss sending you guys emails every week and consuming copious amounts of blue candy.

Love,

J

#eprize2014

Food For Thought – Compassion Kills

Happy Sunday! I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

For myself, it is Sunday morning and I am sitting in a coffee shop trying to tackle my business writing paper, but failing because I have so many thoughts swirling in my head.

Today, I have a TED talk featuring Nolan Watson to share with you guys.

Watson is a highly successful entrepreneur of several publicly traded companies, a humanitarian, and a fellow UBC Sauder graduate. I knew that he was the CEO of Sandstorm Gold prior to this, but not much else. In this installment of the famous TEDx series, he talks about how compassion kills: as we donate money and resources to merely help keep people alive, but not aiding them to become independent, we are in fact killing more people in the long run.

If such people were to stop being supported by charities, they would inevitably live in poverty, become malnourished and sick, and pass away. But by pouring resources into helping people become independent and self-sustained, we attain a long-term solution instead of a short-term fix. They are able to better take care of themselves, and even support their own children and families. It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s head around, but he explains it very well in the video.

When he wanted to drop out of school to become a humanitarian, his parents gave him advice to live by: “Nolan, if you want to be a humanitarian, your mother and I will support you…but you should become a business person first, that way you know how organizations run, how to raise money, and how to manage it properly…The goal shouldn’t be becoming a humanitarian,” they said. “The goal should be becoming a smart humanitarian.” And that’s the premise that he’s based his life goals around.

The end of the video nearly breaks my heart. But in a good way. Seeing a grown, highly successful man’s voice crack and struggling to not cry- I soon enough felt a lump in the back of my throat. To see such a smart, successful, alpha male type of guy almost lose his cool over love and compassion gives me hope for humanity and for the future.

He implores us to take a closer look at the charities we donate to, to make sure that they are putting money towards helping those in need become independent (ie: clean water projects, education, building schools, operating schools). And if that’s not the charity’s main premise, you can tie your donation to the condition that they use it for long-term solutions rather than temporary fixes.

I know people have mixed feelings about TED talks, but I always come away from them feeling inspired and wanting to better myself as a person. While I myself am not necessarily a humanitarian, I feel strongly about donating to charity, especially around the holidays- I’ve been blessed with so much in this life. Why not help out others in need? I can give up that fancy latte or that shiny new bag to help somebody get back up on their feet.

That’s it for now, folks. Have a blessed week!

PS: I think “Food For Thought” would be a great weekly or biweekly series for me to do- but I am hesitant to do so because I’m not sure I can commit to writing every week during these busy and hectic times. I usually just get bursts of inspiration and roll with it.

How Much Do Looks Really Matter?

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As I learned in HR over this past week, apparently a heck of a lot.

We discussed prejudice and discrimination in the workplace and in company hiring policies, and we watched a video by ABC on their 20/20 series in which they conducted an interesting study on beauty. Several experiments were conducted in which two identically-qualified women and men were placed into the same situation, and the results were compared. The one difference was that one was deemed “attractive” and the other, “plain”. They were all actors playing the role, so I thought they were all decent-looking to begin with, but they had makeup artists really dramatize the differences.

  • In the first experiment, both the women pretended to have troubles with their car at similar locations and times, and stood against their car which was pulled over on the side of the road. The result: 12 people pulled over for the attractive girl, and many of them brought her gas, but only 2 people pulled over for the plain girl, and nobody offered to buy her gas.
  • In a similar experiment, they had the two women set up charity booths in a mall where they were to collect donations from shoppers. Both the women had similar traffic patterns, but when they counted the money, the attractive girl earned $90 (50% more), while the plain girl earned $60.
  • The men and the women had carefully curated resumes which reflected nearly identical skills and experiences, and were both sent in for the same job interviews with hidden cameras. The handsome male was treated very nicely and was offered the job in all of the interviews, but the plain male candidate was given very brief interviews and was either told that he’d get a call back later (which never came), or that there was no suitable role in the company at the moment. The handsome candidate was described as more competent and fit for the job, even though he didn’t say much more than “uh huh”, “I understand”, and other generic comments.
  • Same with the females: the interviewers were very gracious to the attractive one and made the job seem pleasant and relaxing (“Our company policy is a 45-minute lunch, but we are very lenient and relaxed around here”), but told the plain female that exceptional performance is expected from all workers, and that there is a very strict 45-minute lunch rule.
  • When discussing salaries, the plain female candidate was told that the starting salary was $16,000 – $18,000, but the attractive one was told “at least $18,000”. The show cited an economic study in that beauty is worth around $2,000 more in salary expectations.
  • 2 teachers were brought in as substitutes for a first grade class and asked which teacher they preferred. 27/28 students chose the attractive one.

I wish I could describe exactly how all the interactions went down, because it was truly shocking and even disturbing. When the unknowing subjects of the experiments said particularly ironic things, the class would basically groan and “oh my god” in unison.

As someone who grew up in a Western lifestyle, and felt more like the ugly duckling than the beautiful swan growing up, I am no stranger to the effects of beauty (or lack of). But I always thought that it only mattered in things such as dating and high school popularity, or in how Abercrombie and Fitch hires its sales staff. I did not expect this to occur in the most innocuous of everyday events, like simply donating to charity, or when somebody’s car breaks down on the side of the road and desperately needs help.

Even though we give A&F and similar companies a lot of backlash for their discriminatory practices, we can see that society is attracted to aesthetic appeal from a young age- just look at the 6 year old kids in the first grade class choosing the more attractive substitute teacher without a second thought. These kids aren’t intentionally trying to discriminate- I think we as human beings are wired to be gravitated towards beauty.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When I was watching the video, my heart sank. What about the 95% of us that don’t look like Victoria’s Secret models or have A&F-worthy washboard abs? We’ve been working so hard in school and life, trying to make something of ourselves, only to be possibly passed over in amazing opportunities because we don’t look like a magazine cover model? No wonder plastic surgery rates are skyrocketing globally. There is so much pressure to look perfect. Whatever happened to positive self and body image?

An environment in which it is expected that only attractive people are hired is not one that I would see myself thriving in. We discussed this in class. I value diversity and acceptance, and when going out into the workforce, will look for an organization whose values align with mine. While I, as an individual, cannot change society and human biology, I can do my part to be loving and accepting of all different kinds of people, cause god knows we need more of both in this world.