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by Padraic Gilligan, VP, Ovation Global DMC

If Carlsberg did travel …

Ovation Trophy 2013 - Impression of a colourful Ovation Trophy across SwitzerlandThe Swiss flight from Paris to Zurich boarded on time, took off on time and landed slightly ahead of schedule. It was packed with efficient suits and brief cases, their boarding passes downloaded to a smart phone. Boarding was swift and easy and there was ample room for roll-ons in the overhead locker. During the 55 minute flight the friendly crew managed to distribute cheese sandwiches and a choice of drinks (including wine) to a packed economy class. When I stepped off the plane a smiling steward offered me Swiss chocolates.

I thought I was in an advertisement for a famous Danish beer: – “if Carlsberg did business travel …”

The dream continued as I came land-side. There was Guendi again, all healthy, bronzed and smiling. My luggage was labelled and whisked away, I was handed my Swiss Pass, the familiar red lanyard was placed around my neck. We were on again, back on the chain gang, all up and ready for the Ovation Trophy, second edition.

Those not familiar with this now annual occurrence can get a flavour of what happens by reading the 4 posts from last year’s inaugural event – please scroll back to April 2012 on the archive below. This year, for family reasons I’ll only be participating on day 1 of a two day challenge but I hope to capture for posterity something of the unique flavour and truly original feel of this most unusual educational event which proves, beyond all doubt, that “when people come together magic happens”

Ovation Trophy 2013: Welcome Buffet Reception

All friendly at the Foundry

You could sense the excitement and anticipation at Glesserei, an extraordinary restaurant and venue space located in an old metal foundry close to Zurich airport. Our Swiss hosts organised an informal dinner with supper bowls themed around the regions of Switzerland with specialties from each area. It was the perfect start for our event with ample time for all participants to arrived check in at their hotel and get a look, for the first time, at what Philip Larkin famously called “this frail travelling coincidence”.

When people travel together they tell stories – first Boccaccio and then Chaucer immortalised this fundamental human impulse in The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales way back in the mediaeval times. I was inexorably drawn to table in the far room at Glesserei from which loud noises had been emanating most of the evening. There I found a merry band of pilgrims who had travelled from London, Dublin, Washington DC, Geneva and Zurich itself, all buddied up and bonded up as if they’d know each other all these lives. I came in on the end of a conversation and, with Florian Kunzendorf, Director at Zunfthaus zur Zimmerleuten where we’re having breakfast tomorrow morning, got hit with the question: Top 3 loves and top 3 hates. Florian was like lightning – he loves Bayern Munich, Beer and motorbikes.

My three loves?

1. Girls with brown eyes (especially one)

2. Arsenal

3. Brunello di Montalcino.

Florian was in like lightning again. “When you come to my restaurant tomorrow morning I’ll take you down to the cellar when we have Brunello di Montalcino”

Tomorrow I’ll let you know the significance of this statement.

Is it an invitation to taste Brunello (Irish interpretation) or an invitation to come and look at it?

Pádraic Gilligan is VP of Industry Relations at MCI and VP of MCI’s DMC unit, Ovation Global DMC. Ovation has partnered with SCIB in the creation of the 2nd Ovation Trophy, a “marvellous adventure” style journey from Zurich to Montreux. Huge thanks today and every day to Barbra Albrecht, Guendalina Rampazzi and to our own Aoife Delaney for pulling it all together. 



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