As promised – a recap of my trip to Google’s NYC office for an event geared towards advertisers in the health and fitness arenas (me! yay).
After a comedy of errors trying to get out of town, I drove up on Tuesday night to stay at the Hotel Ganesvoort courtesy of Google. This place was totally swanky and hip and surprisingly busy at almost 11 o’clock on an early weeknight. I couldn’t believe the amount of activity around the entire hotel area, but it definitely added to the whole hip factor. Obviously I was in a happening spot, yo! Too bad it was past my bed time. I took a few pictures, got settled in, and was soon snuggled up in the luxurious bed. Morning came quickly, but I wasn’t complaining because I was excited to visit the big G for the first time.
Since I drove, I had to find parking. That turned out to not be a problem at all because there’s a garage directly below Google’s building. I just parked in there and hiked my way back up to the street level to get into the building. I was slightly annoyed and surprised that there was no elevator right from the garage into the building, but once I actually got inside the building and saw the massive amounts of security, I understood it better. The organizers for the event I was attending were handing out name tags to those on the roster so we could get through security. Once in, we were given guest badges to wear for the duration of our stay in the building. Every person in the building had a badge on – and there was plenty of security to enforce the wearing of such. I think the amount of security and maintenance personnel on site might have been my biggest surprise of the whole experience, but only because I had already read about the amazing 8th floor restaurant – Hemispheres.
I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, though. The event itself was extremely well put together. As I write this, I’m reminded that I haven’t filled out the satisfaction survey that was sent around afterwards – I need to do that because the Health team really did an excellent job of putting everything together. The first half of the morning was spent listening to some passionate members of the team talk about the different ways Google can help us grow our businesses and drive sales. All of the speakers were engaging, and left me excited for the rest of the day. The second half of the morning we were treated to a more in-depth look at six of Google’s properties: Analytics, YouTube, GadgetAds, and, Newspaper, Audio, and Print Advertising. A lot of the information I got was mind blowing and a bit overwhelming; I was wishing my entire department was with me to ask the questions I didn’t think to ask.
Lunch was held in the aforementioned Hemispheres restaurant on the 8th floor – where I was just blown away. When you get off the elevator, you’re greeted by a huge sunken wall refrigerated case full of just about every type of drink you could imagine. There were multiples flavors of seltzer there, which just tickled me all kinds of pink. And when I say this refrigerated case is huge, I mean it is about the length of my living room, maybe a little longer. On the wall behind the case are pictures of the current world-renowned chefs and their schedules to be cooking on site. Unbelievable.
Inside, the restaurant is set up cafeteria style with different stations for all the culinary delights. First stop for me was the grill. Some people around me ordered hamburgers and I watched as the cook put fresh patties on the grill for each order. I got some steak sans au jus and headed to a very well-stocked salad bar next. I walked around a bit trying to find a suitable starch before I laid my eyes on the holy grail – Chili Spiced Sweet Potatoes. I had never heard of such a thing and I want to kiss the chef who thought of it because they were just delicious. I tried to replicate them tonight, but wasn’t exactly what I’d call successful. Anyway, once I had my lunch assembled, I got to be further wowed by the condiment station. How can one company be so cool at every.single.thing they do? I mean, seriously. So, we had lunch – looking out on the city from the wall-to-wall windows and then put our trays on the neatest lazy-Susan conveyor belt thingie and headed back to our meeting.
The afternoon session was pretty light compared to the morning and I headed out not long after getting back from lunch. We were treated to an overview of Google Trends, as well as some other cool things brewing in the Google Labs. I wanted to stay for a week to soak up all of the innovative ideas running rampant in that building. Alas, I had to leave – and once I left the magic of Google, bad things happened. Well, a bad thing, specifically – a stupid accident! Some stupid jerk swerved into my car on the NJ Turnpike. That was a sucky way to end an otherwise awesome day.