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  • By Christopher Petzing

Product Genius World 2016

Recently BMW AG invited me to the bi-annual Product Genius World

forum 2016. This was awarded to the top 100 BMW Genius’ in the world. I was ecstatic to be invited and provide feedback for the product genius community. The trip was scheduled from October 19th to the 21st in Munich Germany. The itinerary consisted of meetings, tours and workshops for the three days scheduled. Out of the U.S., eight were BMW Genius along with three MINI Genius. I had never traveled to Europe so I was excited to see Germany and experience everything I could. My trip consisted of four days at BMW AG then another five where my fiancee would meet me in Munich to explore and see the country.

My trip started on October 17th with a one-way flight from LAX to MUC, a thirteen-hour flight. My flight took off at 5 p.m. Pacific time. I arrived to the airport early and managed to get through security rather easily. International flights don't have the same procedures as domestic flights so security was a breeze. Once I found my terminal I still had an hour until boarding started so I decided to go find a coffee. Once on the plane I settled in and was offered a drink. I had an exit row in premium economy so I plenty of leg room to stretch out. The flight was LONG, very long. I have never flown over six hours so thirteen hours was difficult. I managed to sleep for a few hours but spent the rest of the time reading or watching TV on my own little screen. While on the plane I watched the sunset on the horizon and about 8 hours later watched the sunrise over Europe. After finally landing and getting my baggage at the claim I met personnel from BMW with a sign reading PRODUCT GENIUS WORLD. Turns out there were two other people for the forum on my flight. We all met up and proceeded to take a bus to our hotel just outside of Munich.

When I arrived I received word that a group of the Americans were headed out that night to a restaurant down the street to get acquainted. I accepted and immediately fell asleep in my room. I woke up around 6 p.m. and got ready to go meet the group heading to dinner. The group consisted of mostly Americans, a few people from around Europe and a couple of the guys from South Africa. We had a good time trying the local food and beer despite the language barrier of our waiter. We pretty much just pointed at items on the menu even though they were written in German. We decided to walk back to the hotel after dinner to get some rest for the early day the next morning.

I woke up at 4 a.m. because my internal clock was way off by this time, we were supposed to meet in the lobby at 6:30 a.m. so I decided to get ready and head to breakfast. Once everyone met up in the lobby we took a bus to the BMW Four Cylinder Building, BMW’s headquarters. Our first day consisted of meetings at the headquarters.

Upon arriving we were introduced to members of the board for BMW and jumped right into meetings about development and departments within BMW. By lunch time, a lot of us were feeling tired and jet lagged so we were offered coffee and tea at lunch. One thing I found interesting in Germany is that black coffee isn't really an option, all they made everywhere we went was different types of espressos and every time I did try to order black coffee they gave me an Americano, either way it helped with the jet lag. After the first day of meetings, we proceeded to walk across the street and along a bridge to the BMW Welt for dinner and drinks. The Welt is like a BMW shopping mall, it was an enormous building where all of the models were on display along with motorcycles, Mini Cooper and Rolls Royce. This is where you can also pick up an Euro Delivery if you choose to do so from BMW. At the top floor of The Welt was a nice restaurant. Upon arriving we were offered champagne and a delicious dinner. After dinner we were all exhausted and decided to head back to the hotel and get some rest.

Day two started at the BMW Welt with coffee and breakfast. Day two consisted of focus groups that we were split into for the first half of the day. We came up with ideas on how to help customers better, how to help the dealerships better, and pretty much everything we could to help progress BMW as a brand. The organizers were very interested in our

ideas and said they would use them to help the markets throughout the world. After the focus groups and lunch we were trained on specific practices and apps to help the customer experience within dealerships. The board members stated their primary focus in BMW was customer satisfaction. They said customer satisfaction will help drive sales because the product will sell itself, but creating an environment that is helpful and easy going will support more sales. After our meetings and focus groups we all hopped on the bus and headed out to a show room in the middle of town where BMW conducts dinner parties, it was turned into a night club for our dinner party. They hosted a dinner party/dance party for the group. That evening we all had a great time and stayed out late until the bus finally took us home at 1 a.m.

Day three we started a little later but met up at the BMW Welt again and split up into groups for tours. My group’s first tour was the new 5 series. The presentation was thrilling leading up to being able to sit and see the all-new 5. I’ve got to say I wasn't a fan of the car in pictures but seeing it in person is amazing. It looks so much better in person than any of the pictures I saw of it. It also has all the newest technology from BMW like semi-autonomous driving and BMW Connected. After that, we were escorted to the factory across the street. The factor tour was amazing to see because of all the automation that goes into building the vehicles. The factory in Munich produces over 900 cars a day, a pretty unbelievable task. After the factory tour we visited the BMW Classic museum down the street.

The museum isn't open to the public yet but we were allowed in to see some extremely rare cars. After meeting back up at the Welt we had a farewell where everyone exchanged numbers and emails so we could keep in touch. It was a once in a lifetime experience to meet and see the people from across the globe and visit the company that takes such good care of its employees. The knowledge I learned at BMW AG will be very helpful not only in the dealership but I feel in life also.

After saying farewell to new friends I met my fiancée on the other side of town where we would start our vacation, the next four days we spent touring Munich, seeing sights, visiting many biergartens and taking a train to Austria for a day. Overall the experience was something I will remember the rest of my life. BMW has provided me with an amazing insight to the company and I am glad to say I work for a company like BMW. I would also like to thank everyone that helped me get to The Product Genius World 2016, from everyone I work with at Pacific BMW to everyone at the corporate level.

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