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What happens when you rent an entire amusement park and give adults free alcohol? Subaru National Business Conference – Denver 2017

Let me preface this entire post by saying I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I received an email from the Subaru Ambassador team inviting me to their National Business Conference as an Ambassador representative… but what I found, the people I met, and the experience I’ve gained was by far the furthest thing from what I was ever expecting as I boarded my flight to Denver last Sunday.

Armed with a few changes of clothes, my camera and computer, and a fresh pair of Adidas, I threw some good music on and promptly took a quick nap on the plane before landing in Denver. After a crying baby a few seats behind me wailing the song of his people, the craziness of the crammed train to the main terminal in Denver was a welcome, if not sweaty, sight.

Fast forward a little while trying to figure out how to get to the hotel downtown, I found myself chatting with another Ambassador on the shuttle, and I could tell that there were some pretty rad people that had been selected along with me and I started to think more and more “how the hell did I get picked for this..?” – a thought that would permeate the entirety of the week for me.

After getting situated in my hotel room at the Sheraton in downtown Denver, I ventured down to the lobby to meet up with the rest of the group and meet the rest of these Ambassadors that had been invited to come on the trip. I had assumed there would be 30-40 of us… and boy was I wrong. Fifteen. Fifteen of us had been selected from almost 9000 other Ambassadors… once again, I started having my “how the hell…?” moment.

After we all arrived in the lobby, we all grabbed a quick drink at the Yard House (the amount of affection for this place grew each night we were in town… as did our tabs…) and made our way to the small introductory dinner with the people who were in charge of the program. Little did we know that during the dinner, we’d end up meeting the likes of Tom Doll and some of the higher chief executives of Subaru. And the amount of kindness and down to earth attitudes that they exhibited… remember that “how the hell?” mentality? Yeah, it definitely hit as Tom sat down next to us at the table and just chatted with us over the course of the next few hours. One thing I started to notice, even just during this first interaction, was how excited and attentive these people were and are to our feedback and suggestions for bettering the brand and filling in the gaps that may be missing. Even by the end of the first night, I started to feel like I was there for a reason, and what I was saying and suggesting was actually valued. Except for a factory turbo on the BRZ. Sorry guys. 

The first day of the conference, none of us really had any idea what to expect, but the level of quality and showmanship that the conference displayed was next to none…yet at the same time it felt like we were walking into a very familiar home every time we walked into the main convention area. It was inviting and comfortable, with plenty of places for people to sit down and talk and generally just enjoy being there. Every major area of the Subaru Corporate offices were represented, from digital marketing to techs, the Share The Love event to the Zero Landfill Initiative… everyone was there. But even more than that, everyone there was family. This is where the story gets a little personal for me – being able to walk up to the individual who is in charge of making purchasing and hiring decisions for photography and artwork for the brands marketing… I admittedly stumbled over my words the first time around because of how much my brain was freaking out with “THIS IS WHO YOU’VE BEEN TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MEET FOR YEARS”. Fast forward through the first conversation to the second and really being able to explain my passion for combining my photography with the brand I love and being met with a response along the lines of “You’ve got good work and I’d love to help make this a reality for you.” made me realize that not only was I having a great time, but this was a life and career changing opportunity. This wasn’t a one-off experience, either… being able to talk to the heads of departments and people in charge of marketing, social, sales, parts, etc…you name it, they were more than willing to sit and talk and actually listen to what I had to say, and WERE EXCITED ABOUT IT. At a corporate level, the type of enthusiasm and genuine kindness exhibited by these people is parallel to none. The rest of the day (and next two days at the convention) was generally the same format – walk around and talk to retailers about the Ambassador program and help them formulate plans on how they can utilize it. Pretty straightforward right? Nope. You’d be shocked how many retailers DO NOT know about the program – but it’s all good, we took care of that.

Fast forward through the hours during the day at the convention to the evenings when Subaru hosted entertainment…

That word up there… entertainment… scratch that off. Subaru knows how to party.

From downtown arts districts to renting an entire amusement park for close to two THOUSAND people, with free food, drinks, and entertainment (rides included at the park), every single person attending was in the highest of spirits, and the atmosphere was absolutely contagious. From steak, sushi, lamb, mouth watering desserts one night; street tacos, pizza, and beer cheese dips with pretzel bites the next; to all your favorite fair and amusement park foods the last… Subaru knows how to throw a damn party. Think you know how to throw a good party or event? Subaru comes in with that “hold my beer, watch this” attitude and kills it. Every time.

I’ve been in the car world for a while, from shooting for aftermarket companies to working for a dealership at a corporate level, and the amount of friendliness and kindness that Subaru exhibits from a personal to corporate is rivaled by none. Hands down. No questions about it.

The brand marketing itself as having family values and promoting making the world a better place isn’t a gimmick. It’s reality on every level.

 I will forever be thankful for this brand, this opportunity, and the ability to say with confidence that every single person I met at this conference is not just an acquaintance, but to each and every one of you that’s made it through this post – you’re family.