Today I felt like we really came together as a team. We met for a late breakfast to start our day (it is the weekend after all). We discussed our strategy for the day. We weren’t deciding which pricing strategy to follow, we were working together to determine the best meeting location for our team. We could either meet in the war room with all of the Hong Kong students or we could go off on our own and start to formulate our strategy. I had talked to a couple of the Hong Kong groups and sensed that they were unsure of their direction, so I suggested that we find an empty room and conduct our work there. As it happens, Brian is extremely neat and organized, so he invited everyone to his room. Garrett found a table in the fire escape stairway and we brought that into the room to finalize the setting. This turned out to be a great idea because the team was alone and had the first chance to start to bond and give individual input to what will become our final presentation. Different strengths of each group member showcased and a very strong strategy was frame-worked together.
Although this was the most productive of the days, it wasn’t all business. There was a fair amount of joking that helped to bring everyone together but not so much that it stopped productivity. We later learned that during our separate team meeting, the other five Hong Kong groups gathered together and shared status reports. Because of the individual meeting we had with management the day before, we feel that we are well ahead of the other groups. Because we missed the impromptu meeting, our professor assumed that we were behind. Once we learned of this doubting of our productivity, the team became a slight bit defensive and grew somewhat more tight. We felt like we were very prepared for our meeting with all three of the professors later that afternoon and, afterwards, felt confirmed by the results. We have a solid plan to develop a productive strategy for our host.
After our meeting, the team summoned a taxi and traveled to one of the main convention hotel competitors downtown. Li explained that we were students wanting to investigate the convention facilities and were given a brochure and told that we could tour the facilities. One of the Hong Kong groups presented a business card from their office and said they were looking to book a convention for 2 dozen people — they were given a guided tour of the facility. We said “hello” when we saw them but quickly realized what they were doing and pretended not to know them. The most apparent aspect of the two hotels was the true 4-star rating. The lobbies were much more elegant and the conference facilities were much larger and more elegantly appointed. The service, however, was not nearly at the level of our host. Our host claimed that they differentiated themselves by their high attention to detail and helpful staff and our research confirmed that.
After the competitive research, the entire delegation met at the top of the Dalian World Trade Center for dinner at a very upscale and modern buffet. The buffet was so vast that it curved around and occupied three sides of the building. One of my favorite foods were being served in unlimited supply: beer. I joked with the team that I was going to have only beer and dessert. This only turned out to be a joke due the fact that I didn’t have dessert. With no main course, the beer was very effective and I more that made up for the previous night of diminished consumption. I started walking between tables of the 5 other teams, made some toasts, took some pictures with Brian’s camera, and had a long conversation with the “service innovation” group. This started our as a business related discussion but I was invited out to “beer street” (or Beal street, or something similar). I returned to my table, we had a serious discussion about the day, and then we talked about joining the Hong Kong group. Li and Brian both said “sure” but I doubted their sincerity seeing as how neither of them drink alcohol. Garrett and Doug were obviously wanting to go out with the others. Sure enough, when we reached the ground floor, Li and Brian jumped in the cab heading back to the hotel. Last night, Brian, Li, and I were all early resigners from the banquet while Doug and Garrett stayed out late. Tonight, I showed my duality and joined Doug and Garrett and the Hong Kong group.
Our evening was every eventful. We decided on a Jazz bar and went in to mostly empty bar with recorded music. Eventually, live music started. I talked to a number of students and finally decided to start talking to the Hong Kong professor whom was brave enough to join us. As we were talking, I head a champing cork pop. I got up, turned around, and saw the guitar player on stage and a audience member starting to fight. I looked at these two guys (who weren’t even punching each other) and walked over to breakup the fight. I (and perhaps my mild alcohol consumption) decided I could probably take both of these guys, so I wasn’t too concerned about intervening. Staff at the bar separated the two before I got too close. I suddenly realized that everyone else from IU and Hong Know was along the bar wall, away from the scuffle. I decided it was wise to join them. Apparently, an audience member wanted to share his beer with the band. The sax player backed away but the guitar player took offense at the intrusion onto stage. The campaign bottle opening was the audience member starting to shake and spray his beer just before the music immediately stopped and the “slapping” began. The Hong Kong group decided to leave the bar so we walked outside. A waitress followed is quickly and I saw her showing a check and knew that she was asking for money. I instinctively reached for my wallet but I very quickly realized that a negotiation process had begun. I very quickly walked away, realizing that an American face would hamper their negotiation capabilities. Garrett realized this situation at least as quickly as I did. He and I stood ten feet away and laughed as we watched Doug trying to follow the situation while his right hand was on his back hip pocket, ready to pay. About a minute later, he realized what Garrett and I had quickly figured out: our presence was not needed. The negotiation paid off because we didn’t have to pay for our drinks.
We then went to a second bar across the street. We were all ushered up to the third floor where a live performance was about to begin. There was a general invitation by the singer and Doug was quickly on the stage performing Hotel California. Since it was all American songs in English being performed, it was much more accommodating to my tastes than the banquet the previous night. The very loud singing somewhat hampered conversation but many discussions still took place (however, my ears are still ringing). All three of the Americans were invited on stage by the lead singer to perform YMCA. I at least knew 4 words of this song: Y M C A. I also knew the motions. What more do you need with a great accompanist? (I guess I did know two other words to the song: young man, which I used appropriately). Upon returning to the table, this sparked a discussion about homosexuals in China. Yes, in exception of some theories, they do exist. The American treo was asked back for another song: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Finally, a song I knew the word to! My friends Kevin, Nathan, and I used to sing this song in the car after the movie Wayne’s World was released. The lead singer wanted an operatic presentation as I feel somewhat confident that I acceptably provided the bass. This was the most significant reaction from the crowd of the night; the Russian quadrant of females had cigarette lighter burning in our honor! We were asked to stay on stage for yet another song by Queen: We are the Champions. I faked knowledge of the song somewhat well.
My performance must have been very strong. The lead singer stated that the quadrant of Russian women was returning home tomorrow. A slow song started and a 40+ year old Russian woman approached me for a dance. Due to cheering of the group, I accepted the dance. Although no one else saw, she was more aggressive than was appropriate. A while later she brushed by me as she went outside but I begged the Hong Kong ladies to save me. They were not accommodating and instead said they would auction me off the Russians. No one should doubt the entrepreneurial goals of the Chinese. Luckily, it was all in jest and we soon thereafter departed the bar and headed back to the hotel (without being followed).