Tag Archives: expo

USA 2019: Capitol, Coast, and Desert My Life 24 OCT 2019

I’ve only ever left our continent twice before. In 2014 I was fortunate in joining my brother for an indescribably enjoyable trip to Japan, and in 2016 Touchwork sent me over to the USA on the most wonderful business/sightseeing trip that saw me spend time in both Anaheim and San Diego. Excitingly, in a few hours time, I’ll be embarking on my third ever overseas trip – it’s USA round 2!

I have mentioned before that a large portion of Touchwork’s business is in the United States, in particular in the higher education institution auxiliary services realm. To that extent, our US team tends to exhibit at related expos all year round, and as such, for this particular upcoming expo, I was asked if I wanted to join the team and then also deliver some Kinetica system training while I’m at it. Naturally, I JUMPED at the opportunity!

The event in question is the NACAS C3X 2019 Conference and Expo, which is being held in Phoenix Arizona. Before that though, I get to spend some time to do training and sightseeing with the guys in San Diego, and right at the start of it all, I’ve been gifted with a handful of days to play tourist in Washington D.C. – Lincoln Memorial, here I come!

I am of course beyond excited. 3 days in Washington D.C., 5 days in San Diego, and 3 days in Phoenix! I am away from home for about 14 days in total (sorry Chantelle), leaving on the 24th of October and only returning at midnight on the 7th of November, i.e. the date of my 10 year wedding anniversary (again, sorry my love!). Also, if you do the maths, then you’ll realize that I’m in transit for about 3 days. Can’t say I’m looking forward to ALL 52 hours or so that I’m going to be up in the air!

On the travel front I am flying out from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then from Johannesburg to Washington D.C. on SAA. From Washington D.C. I jump to San Diego on Southwest (with a plane change in Atlanta), and from San Diego to Phoenix also via Southwest. Then from Phoenix it is a hop back to Washington D.C. (with a change at Chicago) on United, before I finally depart from Washington back to Johannesburg and then on to Cape Town via SAA.

At this rate I’m starting to feel like a seasoned traveller! My camera phone is charged, I’m chomping at the bit, and as per usual, the best place to follow my travels will be via Instagram (at @craiglotter). Looking forward to what should be an amazing experience! :D

Printing Badges with Kinetica at the KZN Construction Expo in Durban (2018-02-06) My Life | Photo Gallery 03 MAR 2018

I got to enjoy one of those rare occasions that Touchwork sends me out of the office at the start of February, sending me on a trip to Durban for a meeting with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (whose guest survey system runs atop our Kinetica platform) at their head office in Pietermaritzburg.

That part of the trip went pretty smoothly mind you. I slept over at my brother Ryan’s place in order to catch an early lift to Cape Town International, where the Mango flight to Durban went well, letting me touch down in the sweat inducing humidity of Durban right on scheduled time.

Kagiso from 3T Business Fusion joined me in my little hired Kia Picanto (which isn’t really that bad of a ride – much better than the little Honda Brio that I received the last time I needed to go to Pietermaritzburg), and following a non-eventful drive along the scenic N3, we made it just in time (literally) for the meeting, which pleasingly also went rather well.

However, that was just part one of my little business trip. As things worked out, Touchwork was once again deploying its Kinetica platform as Hypenica’s expo badge registration system for their 2017 edition of the KZN Construction Expo, and seeing as I was in the area, I was asked to join the team to make sure that everything ran smoothly in terms of the badge printing process on the day.

(Not a problem, especially if you consider that the team was to be based in the fabulous Hilton Hotel for the duration of the event! In case you are wondering why, it made logistical sense – literally next door to the Durban Exhibition Centre, where the expo was being held.)

Fancy hotel stay (and dinner arrangements) aside, the expo itself went very smoothly, my Kinetica system worked a charm (as per usual), and I of course made sure to saunter off every now and then to get some much desired sightseeing whenever I got a chance, resulting in strolls around the Gugu Dlamini Park, the Warrior’s Gate M.O.T.H. shrine and military museum, and the Old Fort grounds.

Oh, and for some reason I also slotted in a quick visit to Durban’s Mini Town, but only because there wasn’t any cricket scheduled at Kingsmead right next door.

So, a successful business trip then – though I would have felt a lot better had I not forgotten my long pants back in Cape Town…

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(Oh, and not having a 2 hour delay on the flight back home would have been rather nice as well.)

Related Link: KZN Construction Expo | Touchwork | Durban

USA 2016 – 12 Touchwork at NACUFS 2016 in the Anaheim Convention Center (2016-07-14) My Life | Photo Gallery 15 JAN 2018

Despite having started off my first ever trip to the USA with some serious Disneyland tourist action, I was of course in Anaheim, California for work purposes – specifically to help man the Touchwork booth at NACUFS IDEA ’16, the 2016 national conference for NACUFS, otherwise known as the National Association of College & University Food Services.

In case you are wondering the connection, Touchwork’s main business focus is providing a platform and solutions in the CX (Customer Experience) space, something we’ve historically enjoyed great success in implementing in the USA university dining services sector. (Our biggest market by far).

Our USA office, led up by Johann Leitner and Carl Mostert, routinely hits the dining services conference circuit in order to cement existing relationships and turn up a few more opportunities in the university space, with Touchwork SA occasionally sending someone (i.e. me this time around) up for the experience.

Of course, this then meant finding a shirt and ironing it first (as a mostly work from home software developer, shirts aren’t something I actually own), before making my way to the Anaheim Convention Center in order to help set up our booth, grab a coffee, and then spend the rest of the day standing around and speaking to anyone who shows even the slightest glimmer of interest in what we have to offer.

Surprisingly, it went pretty well, and I pulled in some nice leads for the team, so come close of day I ended up being rather chuffed with myself (I’m not known for being a people person).

This went on for two days, the length of the showcase/exhibition part of the NACUFS IDEA ’16 conference (which itself ran for about four days).

It wasn’t all work though. The first evening we attended the NACUFS event party, catching the finals of the NACUFS Culinary Challenge, essentially a live Chef food preparation battle as what you would see on DSTV’s Food Network channel or something like that.

Asking the question, it turns out that dining services are in fact big business for American universities. A lot of prestige can be found in this function, hence the focus on profession chefs, and quite often this service is used as a class differentiation between institutions!

(Who knew that someone might actually pick a university based entirely on what food it has on offer!)

We also ended up bumping into one of our very good clients at that same party, and as such decided to leave the bustle behind and head out for a quiet supper with them instead – ending up at a particularly brilliant/upmarket steak place (Ruth’s Chris Steak House) where I ate what was probably the best steak of my life. (Mind you, the wine and conversation were just as good!)

On that note, the second evening after work wasn’t bad either – Carl and Johann decided that catching a baseball game was very much something that I as a first time USA visitor needed to do, a sentiment which I (who played baseball as a kid) most heartily agreed with!

Pictures of that particular outing a little later, I assure you.

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So. NACUFS IDEA ’16 appears to have been a decent success, but more specifically for me, was a great opportunity to see how Touchwork utilizes and sells my software on that side of the world, the end result being me given a much clearer idea of what software development our US office needs going forward.

Still, given the amount of tourist things I did along the way sure makes it difficult to think of #USA2016 as a pure business trip! ;)

Related Link: NACUFS IDEA ’16 | NACUFS | Touchwork | #USA2016

Kinetica at the Cape Construction Expo (2015-08-12) Photo Gallery 09 MAY 2016

August 2015 saw Touchwork’s sister company Hypenica run their successful Cape Construction Expo at the Cape Town International Convention Centre(As you may have guessed by the date, this continues the trend of me finally getting around to publishing articles that have sat gathering dust in my Drafts folder for far too long now…)

IMG_20150812_130246 red human sculpture outside the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

By this stage the usage of Kinetica (my rather flexible feedback gathering solution) as a visitor, exhibitor and delegate registration and badge print system was quite well established, meaning that unlike the Sandton trip, I didn’t have to tag along to offer front line technical assistance for the show.

IMG_20150812_114330 hypenica cape construction expo at the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

Rudi suggested that I come through and have a look anyway, which I eagerly agreed to (the prospect of not spending the day behind the keyboard is always a nice one – plus, I hadn’t ever been to the CTICC before, so this was as good an opportunity as any).

IMG_20150812_125549 kinetica registration system at cape construction expo 2015 at the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

Pleasingly, my system was running smoothly, and badge registration/redemption was quick and efficient, drawing lots of compliments from all quarters. (It was particularly satisfying, because right next door, Spar was doing a trade show with their suppliers, and their registration/badge process was this horribly slow, paper-based solution).

IMG_20150812_123642 makerbot at cape construction expo 2015 at the cape town international convention centre (cticc)

Some of the exhibits on the floor was pretty interesting, particularly the varied 3D printing solutions on show. (Surprisingly, there was even a MakerBot exhibit of all things!)

Behind the scenes things seemed as hectic as always, meaning that I was more than pleased to just be wandering around as a visitor instead of doing actual work like the rest of my frantic Hypenica colleagues!

All in all though, the expo was a big success – which is probably why this year’s version is already penciled in to be an even bigger and better affair.

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Related Link: Cape Construction Expo | Cape Town International Convention Centre