By Amber Bruce
Congratulations, you’ve won your first sponsored brand trip! Soon you’ll be sent half way around the world with 20 other bartenders from across the globe, to eat, drink and learn to your heart’s merriment. But with great power, comes great responsibility. You could treat it like an all-inclusive piss-up, or you could treat it like the vast opportunity that it is (with some good quality drinking attached).
Here are a few suggestions as to how to make the very best of an already amazing situation.
1. Extend your stay
Most often your branded voyage will be somewhere between 3 to 6 days, and even when it is as long as a week, you will be wrapped up in a whirlwind of incredible pre-determined activities. If your work, time, and personal budget permits, try to organize a couple of extra days on the end of your trip, to explore the terrain for yourself. Your brand ambassador is likely to oblige extending your flight, but make sure you request the extension before they book the flight, or you’ll be on the hook for the cost of changing it. Finding accommodations, and transportation during this extension will be on your own dime, so make sure to plan accordingly, but this can be an incredible way to unwind, see the country for yourself, and most likely, repair yourself from the 3 to 6 day hangover you likely incurred.
2. Reach out to bartenders/bars
Whether or not you extend your stay, research some of the exciting bars in the area you’ll be visiting, and reach out. Whether Facebook, instagram, twitter or email, social media is an incredible tool you can use to connect with people from all around the world. You can also ask your brand ambassador, as they have likely been on this trip before, and probably know a few people with whom you could connect. Send out a few messages to bars you may be visiting, and introduce yourself ahead of time. You never know, you might just be able to weasel yourself into a guest shift.
3. Be open-minded
During your trip, you might be subjected to some strange foods, drinks, or events. To truly immerse yourself in the experience, try as many new things as you’re comfortable with and then some. Whether it is slurping the belly of a crayfish in Stockholm, to rappelling backwards off the CN Tower, be adventurous. You’ll be glad you did.
Get to know everyone on the trip. You will likely be joined by bartenders from all around the world. Without being an obnoxiously-networky-walking-version of LinkedIn, try and hangout and make a connection with everyone. It’s hard to find a better opportunity to make friends and connections in all corners of the globe than when you’re forced to hangout with a group of bartenders for a week, 24 hours a day.
5. Be On Time and Be Prepared
Once you’ve arrived and checked in to your room, often times you will be given an itinerary for the trip, or at least for the rest of the day. It’s likely that brands will have you booked in to activities from 8am to 4am, with not much wiggle room in between. You can imagine trying to gather 20+ bartenders can be like trying to herd cats, so do everyone a favour and be on time. You don’t want to be that guy holding up the whole trip because you missed your wakeup call. If you’ve worked in the restaurant industry for more than a day, you should know that 15 minutes early means on time, and on time means you’re late.
Reviewing the itinerary will also help you be prepared for the day’s activities; you don’t want to be the guy wearing flip flops to the Savoy, so smarten up and pay attention. Even boy scouts and girl guides would know you should pack water, advil, gatorade or any other hangover medicine your poor spoiled body might require. Better to have it and not use it, than need it and be green around the gills for the day.
6. Don’t be an Idiot
This should come as an obvious one, but it happens nevertheless. Remember that you’re travelling on someone else’s dime and also on the grace of being chosen as the right candidate to represent the brand. You are an ambassador in more ways than one:
First you are an ambassador to the brand. The brand is spending serious pesos/kroners/euros/dolla dolla bills on feeding, watering and looking after you for the duration of your trip, so respect that fact and behave yourself. Yes, you earned the trip by being the best of the bunch in whatever competition you competed in, but if you want to be considered for future events with the brand, and other brands for that matter (yes, brand ambassadors talk to each other), have some respect.
Second, you are an ambassador to your bar. Treat it like a working holiday. Many of these people may have heard of the bar you come from, and especially if they have not, consider yourself as an extension of your establishment and conduct yourself accordingly.
Third, you are an ambassador to your country. Keep in mind, this may be the first time others are interacting with a real life Canadian (or representative of Canada) so leave a good impression for the rest of us.
Fourth, and most importantly, you are an ambassador to yourself. These days you are your own personal brand, so look out for your own reputation.
So pack your milk thistle, charge your alarm clock, wear sunscreen, and basically listen to all those things your mother told you. But most importantly have an amazing time! These are some of the best perks of the job so enjoy yourself!