Air New Zealand’s Rico: Hot or Not?

October 21, 2010

Meet Rico.

Rico was born on a plane between two countries over the International Date Line on June 6th and June 7th of 1972. His mother and father were hippies and moved off the coast of Equador when Rico was only young and remained there for several years. In his later years, Rico went on to work at a travelling circus giving him the opportunity to see many places he’d never seen before. After tiring of the circus life, he tied himself to a small plane carrying coffee beans and landed in the USA, bright eyed and ready to begin his new life as the face of Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is at it again, this time with a new advertising campaign looking to be its most controversial yet – although in this instance, I’m not so sure being controversial is a bad thing. Rico made his debut in three commercials released last week to create awareness of the airlines new children’s storytime services and premium economy space seats on their 777-300 aircraft.

In two of the three commercials, Rico makes lewd, suggestive comments to fellow Air New Zealand passengers that strike up conversation with him. His thick Equadorian accent plays a part in the mispronunciation of words, in turn, giving them a double meaning: “All we need now is a nice Kiwi bitch (beach).”

In the second commercial titled “The Intimate Art of Touching”, Rico rips out one liners such as “You can lick the crack…” and “The screen is like a woman, and you must be gentle with her…put your finger here and touch her lightly…”

What’s even more impressive is that Rico has his own Facebook page. His interests are listed as “travelling to everywhere, meating the friend. Relapsing in nice place, writing the book and taking away photo.” Rico interacts with his 4,837 fans by engaging in wall conversations with them in a fun and flirtatious manner. Can we expect Rico to make a Twitter appearance? I definitely hope so.

Personally, I think these advertisements are a genius move by Air New Zealand. Yes, they are controversial, but being controversial isn’t necessarily a bad thing now, is it? Controversy generates interest and talk, whether it be via word of mouth, news or online communication platforms; all of which produce an increase in brand awareness and gain the attention and curiosity of the general public, or perhaps a whole new market that never previously considered Air New Zealand as their airline of choice.

Do you find Air New Zealand’s new advertising campaign offensive or funny? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

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Can Social Media Act as a Double-edged Sword?

September 20, 2010

How the positives of social media can generate negativity for the Australian Travel & Tourism Industry.

If the Australian travel and tourism industry wants to leave a global mark, it must embrace the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to adopt and harness a strong digital strategy says Tourism Australia’s executive chairman, Rick Allert.

“As more of the world continues to embrace the Internet in new and diverse ways, this is an obvious medium we need to fully utilise to convey the depth and breadth of Australia’s travel and tourism experience,” Mr Allert claims.

While recognising the Australian travel and tourism industries need to jump on the social media bandwagon, Mr Allert advised that a reliance on social networking sites could prove consequential for travel and tourism operators, with negative word-of-mouth posing a threat for a country’s image.

Poor Mr Allert failed epically at practicing what he preached. In March of 2010, Tourism Australia launched a $150 million advertising campaign to replace their previous ill-fated ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign. Using the new slogan, ‘There’s nothing like Australia’, they invited Australians to submit their favourite photos and taglines of the country to capture that authentic, every-day Australian touch.

Within hours of launching the new site, the online campaign was hijacked by satire blog nothinglikeaustralia.net.

Tourism Australia made the terrible mistake of forgetting to register variations of their websites URL. While having claimed the .com address, this left a window of opportunity for virtually anybody to register nothinglikeaustralia.net. Mr Allert must still be kicking himself.

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On November 23rd 2007, low-cost carrier, Tiger Airways Australia commenced domestic flight services throughout Australia. On June 7th, 2008 Tiger took a walk on the wild side by embracing the use of social-networking giant, Twitter @tigerairways. While Twitter has proven to be a powerful  communication device for other Australian airline companies like @VirginBlue and @JetstarAirways, Tiger Airways lacked what these two companies were able to grasp hold of.

The second half of 2008 saw Tiger embrace Twitter a total of five times. 2009 brought on a slight  improvement with a whooping 29 tweets <insert sarcasm here>; one of them even promising follower’s innovation and excitement; kind of ironic, don’t you think? Perhaps this earth-shattering promise of excitement was the increase of their tweets, six-fold, on previous years results?

Sadly, in 2010, Tiger Airways’ Twitter account died a slow and painful death (of only five tweets) with a direct flight out to Twitter heaven.

A big mistake made by companies is the abandoning of accounts. Tiger Airways has ignored the benefits that Twitter can encompass for them and rather than shutting off its Twitter account completely, it has decided to portray a negative company image for its 2,954 followers via account abandonment.

Dear neglected @tigerairways Twitter followers, here’s an idea.

~

Virgin Blue and V Australia have done an outstanding job appealing to customers via their Facebook pages with 20,000+ and 15,000+ ‘likes’ respectively. They’ve also gone that extra mile in mastering communicative channels via Twitter and corporate blogging. Despite these social networking measures, any given corporate message may be easily counteracted by dissatisfied customer blogs and blog posts, especially those that rank highly on Google.

A simple Google search of ‘Virgin Blue Blog’ reveals the top ranking result to be a blog post from a disgruntled Virgin Blue customer; it even ranks above the V Australia Blog itself. Although having been posted way back in March of 2006, this particular blog post still generates interest amongst other dissatisfied Virgin Blue customers, with comments still being posted to it as recent as September of 2010.

This example is not specific to Virgin Blue and V Australia but is just one of the many cases used to illustrate the permanency of the Internet and the power of social media.



Adding Value & Brand Loyalty by Embracing Social Media

September 19, 2010

Why the Australian travel & hospitality industry should become tech-savvy.

Having taken an immediate interest in social media from the very beginning, while Interning abroad in the USA last year, I was extremely surprised to observe just how much the Australian travel and hospitality industry were lacking when compared to the US in terms of social media. While witnessing first hand how US companies such as Southwest Airlines had embraced social media to generate interest within their company, I was silently hoping that Australia would echo such sentiments; sooner rather than later.

Fifteen months later and I’m back on Aussie soil and glad to see that the Australian travel and hospitality industry (well, part of it, at least) has finally come to its senses and is taking a walk on the tech-savvy side.

For those companies still lacking or refusing to get with the times, here is the link between using social media to attract brand loyalty and add corporate value to your company:

1. Discounts and Deal Offers

While the economy is on a mend, it is still not in tip-top shape. The average middle-class individual or family is budget conscious and constantly on the look out for travel discounts and deals; why spend more if you can get the same flight or hotel at a discount rate through a different travel agent, website or airline? While it pays to do your research, Twitter is breaking down the research phase by tweeting an immediate answer directly to your Twitter feed.

Having embraced the power of Twitter, Jetstar @JetstarAirways are a great example of this. Every Friday Jetstar tweets its Friday Fare Frenzy deals with a link back to its website for all of its 10,236 followers to see. Many of these fares are so cheap it is no doubt that many of Jetstar’s followers purchase on impulse either for a spontaneous weekend getaway or a planned vacation. Not only does Jetstar promote its Friday Fare Frenzy but also tweets other fantastic travel deals and arranges phone contact for customers that are experiencing difficulties or are unsatisfied with the service they have received.

Like Jetstar, STA Travel Australia @statravelAU is also a lover of all things Twitter. STA Travel promotes discount airfares and any travel tours they have on sale as well as running Twitter prize give aways for their 6,482 followers.

I can’t understand why travel and hospitality companies, or any company for that matter, wouldn’t want to embrace the communication powers that Twitter embodies; in essence, it is free advertising.

2. Communication of Catastrophic Events

With the ever-lingering concern of terrorism and natural disasters in the back of people’s minds while travelling, the ability of travel companies to deal with catastrophe and unplanned tragedy quickly and efficiently while still showing sympathy and concern to those involved is vital to their success.

On January 16, 2009 at 7:36am US EST, Janis Krums @jkrums tweeted these words accompanied by this photo he snapped on his cell phone:

Twitter user, Janis Krums was on a ferry used to rescue stranded passengers after the miracle landing of  US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River. His tweet was the first to make headlines; before any official media or news outlet was able to pick up on it. In fact, Twitter broke the news of the incident around 15 minutes before the mainstream media alerted viewers and readers to the crash.

As Twitter user @hrhmedia pointed out , the FlightStats information website was showing the downed flight as 26 minutes late, but still “en route” to its destination of Charlotte in North Carolina. And while Twitter’s trends page, which identifies the hot keywords used in tweets, was flagging up terms such as “US Airways”, “Hudson”, “plane” and “crash”, Google’s similar trending service showed no signs of those keywords an hour and more after the incident occurred.

While not being able to find any supporting evidence that US Airways @USAirways had their Twitter account back when this incident occured, it would have, on their part, been in line to tweet about the incident and that no lives were lost to reassure the families and friends of those on board. Another great and recent US Airways Twitter example can be viewed below:

3. Generate Customer Loyalty and Engagement

While the first real challenge for travel and hospitality companies is actually joining social media communities and developing a taste for how they work, the key goal of staking a claim in the social media world is to build a base of dedicated followers who will keep coming back.

Most travel and hospitality organisations are looking for more than just a transaction. They’re after loyalty; a long term engagement between the company, brand and the customer.

The key to achieving this is by the use of deals offered exclusively through social media channels.

Airtran Airways introduced Facebook Friday Fares giving its Facebook fans unique deals as well as the AirTran U Creeper game which gives its Facebook fans the opportunity to win a round-trip flight with the airline.

United Airlines @UnitedAirlines has cleverly combined a tweet and a fare to introduce twares. These are fare specials offered exlusively through Twitter. With a following of 116,638 and growing daily, it’s no wonder so many Twitter users are following United. Exclusive deals like this one keep the customer coming back again and again.

4. Real-time Monitoring

Airlines are able to notify all followers via Twitter of any cancelled or delayed flights as they happen. This may save you a few hours of sitting around at the airport or driving to the airport to pick someone up only to wait around for hours and spend countless dollars on rip off parking fares because of a delayed flight.

Newcomer, The Honey Bar @theHONEYBAR is a purpose built hospitality venue in the South Melbourne precinct. They have taken an immense interest in Twitter to communicate to their rapidly growing list of 506 followers. The Honey Bar has even suggest it will go above and beyond to satisfy its customers…

@deltachris tweeted The Honey Bar informing them that he had past by earlier in the night but didn’t have the time to stop in. The Honey Bar tweet back informing Chris that…

Twitter has made it possible to be in the know as it happens. Imagine how satisfied one would be if they could tweet in their meal in advance to their favourite restaurant and not have to sit around and wait for it to be cooked.

Later this month, The Honey Bar will play host to the @socialmelb Tweetup (Twitter meet up); another intelligent way of generating interest and followers amongst the Melbourne scene.

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So what are you waiting for? Embrace your inner tech-geek and reap the benefits of social media today.


A Final Hurrah in Sin City

August 14, 2010

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Location:
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
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Vegas in summary:

Airport Hotel Booze Vegas Strip Booze Booze Girls Girls Girls Vegas Strip Pool Booze Hotel Cirque du Soleil Booze Buffet Girls Girls Girls Buffet Vegas Strip Booze Vegas Strip Pool Booze Buffet Thunder from Downunder Vegas Strip Booze Cirque du Soleil Booze Clubbing Vegas Strip Booze Pool Booze Cirque du Soleil Booze Clubbing Booze Airport Tears.

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Phew. What a mouthful. After an amazing 14 month run, my last five days in the USA were to be spent in no place other than Las Vegas. I am by no means a Sin City virgin but on this particular trip, we were going to be popping Ali’s Vegas virginity.

It was tough saying farewell to Bryan at the airport on Tuesday morning; probably the toughest of them all. This was the one good bye I was least looking forward to. We had pretty much spent every single day of the entire last year together; grocery shopping, working, drinking, cooking, cleaning, hanging out, going to the Disney parks, vacationing together; literally everything. He pulled up curb side at the Southwest Terminal and helped remove our luggage from the car. After it was all out there was a hesitant pause. Ali and Kellen would be seeing Bryan again so it was all up to me. I took a step towards him and leaned in for a hug. I failed at trying not to cry. I didn’t wear any make up for this particular reason; it was inevitable. We said our good byes while I cried all over his shoulder. I didn’t want to let go of him. Bryan handed me a letter and told me to read it a little later on. He hopped back into the car and like that, he was gone. I’m going to miss him so much.

I check all 130lbs of my luggage in. It’s hard to believe how much crap I’ve accumulated over the last 14 months. Thank God for Southwest Airlines two free checked pieces of luggage policy. While sitting at our gate waiting to board, I decide to read the letter Bryan left me with. I’m not even two lines in before I start to cry again. I’m an emotional mess. His words are so sweet and it pains me to imagine my days without him. My sleeve becomes my tissue; good thing I didn’t wear any eye liner. I get a grip of myself right before it is time to board the plane.

We touch down in Vegas at 10am with hopes The Mirage will let us check in this early and sure enough, it does. Score. Our room is gorgeous and we’ve conveniently been given a room with a strip view at no extra cost! Double score.

Twenty minutes is by far too much time to spend in a hotel room in Vegas so off we go to introduce Ali to the strip. We are only walking for

maybe five minutes before Ali realises you can legally roam the streets with booze in hand. This is way to exciting for Ali to handle so we make our way into the nearest hotel to purchase ourselves our first drink. Never mind that it is only 11am, it is 5pm somewhere, right? I’m glad you agree. Our first drink is down the hatch within minutes. There’s nothing like an ice cold Bud Light in 108°F heat while walking down the Las Vegas strip. As we make out way towards the Paris Hotel our taste buds are tingling for another alcoholic beverage. Ali suggest a beverage of the frothy kind and Kellen and I agree. We come across a little place called Evening Call and purchase a cup each that has refills available for only $5; insane. The cup is white, but when a freezing cold substance is poured into it, it turns red! Pretty cool. I order a coffee slushy with baileys in it. As I bring the straw up to my mouth for my first sip, I start to wonder if I should have ordered this; My stomach doesn’t usually have a great reaction to milk-based products. This is quickly forgotten upon having my first sip. The drink is heavenly; absolutely bloody delicious.

More drinks are consumed as we walk the Vegas strip. Kellen and Ali decide it is fun to collect the cards of nakey girls that the GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS guys are handing out on the side of the road (if you’ve ever been to Vegas you know exactly what I’m talking about). It is not even 2pm and we are already best friend with intoxication. We head back to the hotel to sober up and get ready for tonight.

We have tickets to the 7:30pm session of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere at Treasure Island. After having seen La Nouba 1047982 times while working there on the Disney College Program, I decided it was time to venture out into the world of Cirque du Soleil and see as many resident shows as possible while in Vegas. I lost my Cirque virginity to La Nouba, so in a sense, I felt like I was cheating on it tonight with Mystere. I tried to convince myself this was probably for the best; after all, I was on a mission to find bigger and better… than La Nouba, of course. Get your mind out of the gutter! Mystere had many similarities to La Nouba in that it was the imaginable being brought to life on stage to provide the ultimate discovery that life itself is a mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed the show probably a little bit more than La Nouba, although the first time I ever saw La Nouba, I was blown away by it all too. After Mystere we eat dinner at the Paris buffet which is absolutely delicious.

Day two is just another day of drinking down the strip only today we are rather excited because we find a place by the name of Bill’s that serves 99c margaritas and beer. Needless to say we make out way on it and indulge in a few. I must take advantage of as much cheap booze as possible now because God knows, once I get back to Australia, I’ll be paying insane prices for it. We lay out by the pool while drinking more beer and frothy beverages before it is time to go in and gussy up for tonight’s adventure.

We head to Planet Hollywood for dinner which is insanely crowded due to The Expendables movie premier going on there. It was a nice surprise to see Sylvester Stallone standing around just before we went into eat. The buffets was amazing and had food from many different countries. One of the better buffets I’ve been to in Vegas for sure. We only have a small time frame which to consume as much food as possible because tonight we are heading to… drum roll please…

Thunder from Downunder

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at The Excalibur hotel. We have been waiting patiently for this day for a few weeks now and are beyond excited to see my home boys represent. The show was absolutely insanely amazing! The boys were hotter than I can even explain. At one point, the MC asked if anyone had ever touched anything Australian before. Of course, Ali and Kellen start screaming at the top of their lungs and pointing to me. I  may have slightly blushed. The show they put on really is phenomenal and I highly recommend it to any one who’s in Vegas for a bachelorette party or just to have a good time like we were.

Best. Photo. Ever.

Ali and I wake up early on day three to head to the Cirque du Soleil ‘LOVE box office which is located inside The Mirage. This particular Cirque show was coming off a seven day dark week which meant it was more than likely going to be sold out but thought we’d try our luck. The lady selling tickets at the box office tells us the same thing we tell all the guests “We are coming back from a short break, we are sold out, only single seats left, we’re not releasing any more, yada yada yada”. I knew she was lying because this is what we use to tell everyone too even when we had seats on hold. Conveniently, as we are standing there, two seats magically appear. The only catch, they are $172.40 each. Ouch. I wasn’t planning on spending this much on a ticket but tonight is the only night we can see this show. I tell Ali I’m fine with paying it as long as she is too. We both hand over our credit cards and slightly cringe as they get swiped. This better be a good show!

So after watching LOVE I don’t feel bad about dropping the $172.40 on my ticket. It was, hands down, the best show I’ve ever seen. LOVE celebrates the musical legacy of The Beatles. Drawn from the poetry of  their lyrics, LOVE explores the content of the songs in a series of scenes inhabited by real and imaginary people. There was always so much happening I didn’t know where to look which is why I think I’ll have to see this show for a second time on my next visit back to Vegas. Incredible! While still high on energy from LOVE, we head to Jet Nightclub at The Mirage. Being Mirage guests, we get free entry; excellent, more to spend on alcohol. We drink and dance the night away.

Day four is our last full day in Vegas and also my last night in the USA before heading home. Sadness bestows me which means it is time for a drink. We make our way back to the Evening Call in Paris and refill our cups. Kellen doesn’t feel the best so I decide to take advantage of this situation and double fist. I get the Bacardi flavoured rum mixed with tropical flavoured slushy. Delicious. The best part is, I can’t even taste any alcohol so I’m just slurping these babies down as if they’re a regular 7/11 slushy. We head back to the pool for our last day of sunshine and tanning. For me, this will probably be the last time I see sun for the next few months. I have a horrible, cold winter to look forward to after tomorrow.

Tonight we have tickets to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity at New York New York. Zumanity has claimed to be the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil. It is a seductive twist on reality, making the provocative playful and the forbidden electrifying. You are asked to leave all inhibitions at the door and let loose as this Cirque production takes you on a sexy thrill ride full of sensational acrobatics and naughty fun. The show is part burlesque and part cabaret and only viewable to those 18 years and over. Again, another amazing show.

We head to Studio 54 at the MGM. There is a huge line up at the door. Tonight Lady Gaga performed at the MGM and Studio 54 is home to her official after party so the crowds are insane. It doesn’t help that she is due to walk out any minute to do a press conference and pose for the paparazzi right by the front of the club and admissions line. The security guard calls Kellen and I in right before she comes out. Bummer.

Kellen has never been to Studio 54 before but I had told him several times how it is my favourite club in Vegas because the music they play is amazing. After a few drinks, he was quick to agree. We buy each other round after round after round and after a while, I lose count as to how much we’ve consumed. We’re having such an amazing time just dancing the night away. It reaches 3am and we agree that if the next song is crappy, we will leave. Lucky for us, it isn’t, so we continue dancing like it’s nobodies business. Everywhere we look, there are girls dressed up as Lady Gaga. Once Kellen reaches his height of intoxication, he starts asking them all for photos and they kindly pose with him. Too funny. We stumble out of Studio 54 sometime after 4am and make it back to the room exactly at 5am. What a night.

The next morning is like a depressive blur. Ali and Kellen help me carry my bags out to catch a cab. I have an earlier flight out than they do so of course, I have to say my good byes to them. The cab driver finishes loading my bags into his trunk. I turn to Ali, before I even reach out to hug her I’m already crying. She starts crying too. I look over to Kellen to give him a hug and I start crying even more. I know I will be seeing them again so this makes it a little easier. I say good bye one last time then hop into the cab and cry all the way to the airport.

Good bye Las Vegas, until next time…


Twelve Hours Left in Orlando…

August 9, 2010


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Location:
Orlando, Florida, USA
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Sadly, after spending the last 13 months of my life in Orlando, Florida, it is time to depart.

Leaving for the airport at 5:30am and getting a flight out to Las Vegas at 7:55am where I will spend the next five days before flying back home to Australia.

The worst part; saying good bye to a friend I have become so close with at the airport in the morning.

Good bye, Orlando, I’ll forever cherish all the memories I’ve made here. You hold a special place in my heart ♥.

See you soon.

xo


48 Hours in Texas…

December 11, 2009

Three hours sleep and before I know it, I’ve got a window seat with Southwest Airlines and I’m en route to Dallas, Texas. Extremely excited for what’s to come within the next 48 hours, but at the same time, extremely tired due to previous nights activities. My excitement and nerves prevail over my lack of sleep. I’m bright eyed and on edge when we touch down at Dallas Love Field Airport in Texas.

Bull Crossing at the Stock Yards

With a quick stop over at our hotel (The Sheraton Arlington over by Six Flags Over Texas, which, by the way, was absolutely superb and a gem of a find (3.5 star Arlington – Grand Prairie Hotel choice on Hotwire for $53 plus tax, normally $150 per night)) we headed over to one of my favourite places in all of Texas, the Fort Worth Stock Yards, to get a feel of real Texas. It was a chilly 39 degrees Fahrenheit out; an extreme difference from the Orlando humidity that we left behind hours earlier. The best cure to keep warm was the cure for many of life’s problems… shopping! Oh, and how could I forget, a trip to my most  favourite candy store in the whole entire world!

I started to eat my way through the candy store…

Om nom nom nom...

But apparently this is a punishable offense in Fort Worth…

Life imprisonment for the consumption of too much candy??

I scored myself an early release thanks to some good friends who paid bail. Thank goodness for that. Could you imagine telling the other inmates what I was serving time for?!? Ridiculous! I quickly got over my jail stint and not before too long, it was time to catch up with some mates over dinner at Chilis.

Back to the hotel, some quick Facebook, Twitter, Skype and MSN time, five hours of sleep and beep, beep, beep, beep, off goes the alarm at 5:30am! So sleepy. Eyelids so heavy. Eyelids slowly closing. NO! Stay awake. Eyelids heavy; drooping. AWAKE! Today is the day!!! Nervessss <insert gagging action here>.

We began our seven hour drive down to Corpus Christi just after 7am. It felt like the longest seven hours of my life, mainly because of what was still to come. We talked; we napped; we ate; we joked; we laughed… Actually, we laughed rather hard at this sign on the back of a truck that was in front of us in traffic…

Yeah, that's what he said! Haha.

Yeah, that's what he said! Haha.

We eventually made it to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Corpus Christi, which we also scored on Hotwire for an insanely good price. We dumped our stuff in our hotel room then got dropped off at the American Bank Center Arena at around 4pm. Here is where we met with Kelly Clarkson’s security, Brian. He escorted us into the arena and we found ourselves a seat while we watched Kelly Clarkson’s band rehearse during sound check.

Empty arena while the band rehearses for the big show tonight.

Next it was my turn to jump up onstage and sing with Kelly Clarkson’s band. I wanted to vomit on myself. I was so bloody nervous. I felt like I was about to give an oral presentation in class, and God knows how much I hated those parts of my assessment. I was introduced to Kelly’s band members and we started to chat while we got organised. They were all so sweet and make me feel a little more at ease. I can’t sing for the sake of my life which makes me want to puke all over the place even more, but I try my best and sing Kelly’s current single, ‘Already Gone‘.

Those 3.5 minutes felt like an eternity but I am so glad I got to do what I had just done. I jump off stage and run to Nicole who informs me that  she didn’t want to startle me, but Kelly Clarkson had come out and was sitting in the front row watching me while I was up on stage. I was so nervous that I didn’t even look around the arena while I was singing. Once Nicole told me that, I was angry at myself for not noticing Kelly there, but at the same time, I was kind of relieved I didn’t see her. If I had noticed her sitting there, I think I would have froze in fear and then perhaps either a) wet my pants, b) vomit or c) a and b combine. Haha. What a great impression that would have been! I will spare your ears the agony and continue to allow you to live your life with the gift of sound by not posting and video of me singing.

Nicole and I right after I got down from the stage 🙂

We got to sit there and watch a bit more of the sound check before heading out to dinner at Whataburger.

After dinner, we met up with Brian again and he took us out back of the arena to meet the one and only, Miss. Kelly Clarkson!!! Although having met her several times back home in Australia, I still freak out and get nervous. What do I say? I don’t want to come across as a stuttering fool!?!

The doors swing open and out comes Kelly, all cool and down to earth. She’s so cute and tiny up close. She’s also very short, but I already knew this. She sees me standing there and walks over while she begins to tell me that she saw me singing on stage earlier. I apologize for any damage I may have caused to her ears and she starts to laugh at me while giving me a big hug. She asks about my accent and I tell her I’m actually from Australia but I’ve been interning at Disney World. Kelly seems to get really excited by this and thinks it’s the coolest thing ever that I work at Cirque du Soleil. She notices I have a Disney World bag in my hand and asks if it’s for her. I nod my head and remove the Minnie Mouse Christmas stocking from the bag. “Adorable” she says with a smile from ear to ear. I explain that the stocking is stuffed with Disney treats for her and the band and that she should share. I go to put the stocking back into the bag but she grabs at it and digs her hand inside to check out what it’s filled with. The first thing she sees when she looks inside the stocking is a Disney Christmas rice crispy treat.

Kelly: Is that a rice crispy treat?!!?!?!??! (She asks in a way too excited voice. She reminds me of a little kid!)
Me: Yes, Disney style.
Kelly: OH MY GOD! I LOVE rice crispy treats! I’m so eating this all by myself!
Me: Share!
Kelly: Not the rice crispy treats!

It’s photo time. I apologize to Kelly in advance if this will muck up her already styled stage hair, but I’d like to have our photo wearing Disney Santa hats. I usually get silly photos with Kelly but figured I wanted something Christmassy (cause tis’ the season) that would remind me of my time at Disney so I bought along my Minnie Santa hat and I bought Kelly a Mickey Santa hat.

Kelly thinks the hats are too cute and does not seem too bothered about it possibly messing up her hair. She yells out that she has a ‘fat head’ while she struggles to fit the hat over her ears. When she finally gets it on I tell her that her Mickey ears are crooked so she straightens them up and asks me how she looks; “Adorable” I answer back.

Kelly: Are you going to smile real big???
Me: Well, yeah, of course!
Kelly: AWESOME! Me too!

*snap*

We are so damn cute!

We chatted a bit more before her Tour Manager, Tim, gave me the ‘wind it up‘ signal. We said our goodbyes and then had one last hug before I left the meet and greet room to make my way into the arena to find my seat in preparation for the concert.

KC doing what she does best ❤

I could go on and on and on about how amazing the concert was. Kelly was sharp as always, her vocals were spot on and she looked great. She’s has such an amazing energy on stage and it generates through out the audience. She really is a rare talent to find these days and I will continue to be a fan for many more years to come.

For me, this show was like a bitter sweetness. I had just had the most amazing day possible singing on stage with Kelly’s band, watching her band sound check, meeting Kelly Clarkson and scoring free tickets to the concert. If you could not tell, that was the sweeter part of the bitter sweetness. At the same time, it drew an end to the three shows I had the opportunity to see on the ‘All I Ever Wanted’ U.S.A. tour. Bitter. Actually, bitter, with a side of bitter; I will be missing the Australian tour in April of 2010 because I will still be in Florida. Sad. But sweet. I mean, it’s not every day you get to say you work at Disney World!