Have you ever gone through the experience where, a specific event is thought about, talked about and planned for over an extended period of time, perhaps many years, and then finally executed? On April 1st an 2nd, we held our inaugural Bristol Connect, a gathering of more than 150 clients, prospective clients and supplier-partners from around the world!
The event had long been talked about over the years. Indeed, on many occasions, I have been asked why Bristol had not yet hosted some type of conference “like all of the RMC’s?” Quite simply, the timing and conditions simply were never ideal. My team and I had made a commitment that, when we launch our Bristol Connect conference, we wanted to do so in as much of a differentiated manner as possible. We truly desired for BristolConnect to look and feel nothing like so many other conferences and forums that take place throughout our industry and with ever-increasing regularity.
After more than a year of planning, Bristol Connect was finally launched. Held at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA, the location served as the perfect backdrop, enabling us to create optimal conditions required to execute our mission of creating a differentiated conference experience. Some of you might recall a story I first penned 3 ½ years ago, where I described my encounter with the elevator operator at the Hotel Del Coronado. His name is Andrew and you can read that story here: https://www.bristolglobal.com/cup-of-joe/the-power-of-connecting/.
I opened the conference by informing our attendees why we chose the Hotel Del Coronado for our first-ever Bristol Connect. I explained to everyone how Andrew has so powerfully impacted Bristol over the years, so much so that in 2015, we renamed our annual employee of the year award, the Andrew Award. Winners of the Andrew Award are gifted with a stay at the Hotel Del Coronado and of course, the opportunity to meet the legend himself. Additionally, because our 2018 Andrew Award winner, Angela Halliday, was in attendance, I was able to recognize her and incredibly, have Andrew himself hand her the award named after himself. It was a touching, emotional moment that exposed the heartbeat of Bristol and our unique culture. As it turned out, it was a fantastic way to kickoff what ultimately transpired into a truly memorable 36 hours.
Along with valuable learning and networking opportunities, we closed the event with an intensely compelling keynote given by legendary author and speaker, Tim Sanders. Tim was a perfect and seamless fit into our conference theme, Collaborating Through Change. Leveraging lessons from his best-selling book, Love Is The Killer App, Tim dovetailed our company mission, which is to Connect with, versus Control, people. He was simply fantastic and left a clear, memorable impression upon all attendees. We closed the event with our annual supplier-awards dinner and were thrilled to recognize so many top-performing companies in a variety of support verticals.
No matter your strategy, putting on a conference comes with a large dose of risk. And since we were driven to create a unique and memorable experience, the risk-factor was upped a few notches! However, I couldn’t be more proud of the entire Bristol team who took part in the planning, spoke and/or moderated sessions, or, simply attended and ensured all guests felt welcomed, connected and part of the Bristol family. As one attendee put it:
"I truly saw how Bristol is as a company, and how it connects with both its service partners and clients, as well as each other. I am honored to have been part of this first milestone!"
"This is like no other conference I have been to. It was like everyone was hand selected to be personable, nice and helpful and had no problem finding people to talk to or sit with, even if I did not know them. Everyone went out of their way to introduce themselves and try to meet everyone they didn't already know."
As I mentioned at the conference, the notion of disruption seems to now manifest within our industry, at a rate we may have never before seen. There are more disruption dynamics penetrating our business than ever before, including the disruptive forces associated with: Technology advancements; Shifting workforce and demographic challenges; Increased competition – often from non-traditional channels; and geo-political disrupters being seen in areas such as immigration, taxation and protectionism.
It is indeed, mandatory that all of us who play in the mobility space and are entrusted by corporations around the world to care for their people, must remain proactive and vigilant with regard to the myriad disruptive forces that pose varying degrees of risk. However, at Bristol we remain unwavering in our belief that our business is about people. People who are experiencing the thrills and fears associated with relocating… People (our corporate clients) who are tasked with sourcing and managing RMC’s and perhaps other supplier-partners, to ensure their company’s most precious asset - their people, are being properly cared for… And People who make up the vast global networks that are deployed each time a relocating employee is asked to move.
Our chief goal then is to create maximized experiences, which, we believe can only occur via maximized connections. Connections that are built on the most durable foundation of transparency and trust. Our mission, which we first adopted more than a decade ago, to Connect with versus Control people, couldn’t be more applicable and relevant!
Suffice to say, Bristol Connect successfully executed on the theme of Collaboration, doing so by creating new and more secure Connections. BristolConnect was indeed a long-time coming… however, it appears that it may have also been well worth the wait!
Thank you to all who attended. Your presence was vital to the overall experience and our hope is that we will see you again at Bristol Connect 2020!