Help from the audience

April 12 2007

I spoke this morning at the Lotusphere Comes to You in Houston.  After spending nearly all day yesterday (due to the Chicago snow) to get down to Houston, I have to be honest that I was disappointed in the relatively small turnout for the event.  Local business partners reported that they get good turnout for their events, so I wonder if it is just that we had an unusually high percentage of local Lotus customers and prospects attend Lotusphere itself, or if the location or date were a challenge, or if there were other factors.  Almost all of the LCTYs so far have had better-than-expected attendance.

The audience was also pretty quiet, too.  As many of you who have seen me speak state-side know, I tend to inject humor and occasional self-deprecation into my presentations.  Tough to draw a laugh this morning.  I would like to thank the woman seated towards the front, who nodded her head in agreement on several points -- that was quite helpful and reassuring given the lack of other feedback.

A couple of other observations on 21 hours in Houston:

  • OK, so I finally flew Continental Airlines.  I had tried to make an earlier flight out of Chicago yesterday, given the weather, but Continental's systems behave differently than other airlines.  Even if a flight is delayed, they cut off check-in or standby for that flight at 40 minutes prior to the original departure time.  This meant I got to sit at the gate and watch a planeload of people head off to Houston, including at least ten standby passengers, without ever having a chance to get on-board.  I then had the privilege of paying $25 for a confirmed seat on the next flight, which was delayed two my original departure time.  The self-service check-in kiosk didn't bother to mention that the subsequent flight was that delayed, so I felt a bit deceived.  FWIW American's self-service kiosks run the same scam.
  • Speaking of Continental, they seemed nice enough, but their seat pitch is brutal -- especially when the person in front of you chooses to recline their seat fully for the duration of the flight (both directions!).  Considering that I have superelite status on both of the airlines hubbed in Chicago, I should probably have found a way to fly one of them -- though I heard they were both cancelling Houston flights due to the snow yesterday.  No-win situation.
  • I haven't seen that many Starbucks around the world that are 24 hours, like the one near the Houston Galleria.  It was pretty funny coming out of there last night and seeing a partially malfunctioning sign on the building across the street....advertising the "ass Bank".  I'm sure Compass Bank's marketing department doesn't appreciate the humor there.

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