Nokia is a company that understands how to work with influencers.
Their approach seems to be to gather a variety of online influencers in a great city, bring them on a series of mini adventures and give them Lumia phones to document everything.
Last year, I spent a weekend with them in Vegas and earlier this week I was invited again in my home town of Boston and we had a great time.
You need to know that Nokia covered the costs for everything while we were with them. They had given me a Lumia 1020 in the past and that is what I was taking photos with all weekend.In addition, this time I was paid to be the resident photography expert, to assist everyone with how to get the most out of the camera on their phones.
In return, they ask for nothing but to tag everything we create during the experience with #TeamLumia so that others could see what we were doing and so that their team could see, track and share everything created.
Our adventure began as we gathered in the lobby of the Nine Zero Hotel.
Since I live here, I had never been to this hotel and it is everything I've come to expect from a Kimpton. It is also a perfect location to stay if you want easy access to the theater district or waterfront areas of the city.
We boarded a bus with Matt from New England Brewery Tours. As he explained the variety of breweries we'd be visiting, we asked him a variety of questions about beer, but also about his business and how it was going. Seems that business in beer is going well for him.
Even though I've been drinking it for years, I've never been to the Sam Adams brewery before and it was awesome to finally go. Our guide knew her stuff and giggled at all the attention that was being given to phones instead of her.
I learned a lot on the tour and of course the end was my favorite when we got to sample some beer.
Dear Sam Adams, please make Black & Gold Lager a regular brew because I fell in love with it from the first sip. Plus, every Bruins fan would certainly buy some during the season and playoffs.
Lunch was spent at the Cambridge Brewing Company. The food was welcomed, the beer okay and dessert something I'm still dreaming about how yummy it was.
Started by a couple of buddies who loved brewing their own beer, they now find themselves with thirteen full time employees and about to move into a bigger and more modern location. They make a variety of unique beers including one brewed with habanero peppers that while I wasn't a big fan of drinking it, I'd love to try marinating using it.
We ended our brewery tour at Mystic Brewery. Great team of guys there who served us one of their beers and showed us their brewery.
After a long day of trying beer and learning about brewing it, we sat down for a quick yet not fulfilling meal and then it was off to see Aziz Ansari perform.
He didn't impress me, but his opening act Ron Funches was messed up and hysterical. Keep an eye on that guy and his love of cinnamon angels!
Day two began with a brisk walk to the waterfront so that one of the attendees could showcase his unique skills.
Jason Escape is a Boston magician and escape artist. He also happens to be a hell of a nice guy.
While the escape trick was cool, what really got me was all the card magic he would do on our bus ride up to Salem. I've never been a big fan of illusions, but up close magic is truly amazing when it is done well and Jason delivered.
The next stop was Fenway Park for a VIP experience and tour.
We started with watching batting practice from on top of the Green Monster. I won't name the member of the Nokia team who got a ball and then threw it back on the field, but trust me Boston that we didn't let her hear the end of it.
After this, we took a tour of Fenway. It was great to find out new facts about the ballpark that I didn't already know. Our tour guide was a retired music teacher who had just started doing the tours, but he was a natural.
Over the years, I've seen a bunch of Red Sox games. But, I've never sat in the right field roof deck where there are servers and tables. Made for a whole new game experience.
It was a colder night than expected and I want to thank Team Lumia for the super cool move of buying each of us a fleece Red Sox blanket. Totally above and beyond anything that was expected, but it was very much appreciated.
The Red Sox won in extra innings and after a celebratory raising of the glasses at Boston Beer Works we called it a night as we had one final day to go.
Wednesday we made our way to Salem, Massachusettes. I've always loved this city for the beauty and vibe it holds.
It was fun to watch our group go through a Wiccan ritual and react to what we were told during our Salem Witch Walk. I've studied enough about religion and Wicca to already know what was shared, but it is always great to hear it again. Plus, our guide Tom is exactly the sort of person you want giving a tour like this. He was the perfect mix of enthusiasm and knowledge.
Before our adventure came to an end, we had one last experience to put our phones away, unwind and get creative.
Paint Nite brings paint, canvases and an instructor to a neighborhood bar so that anyone can sit down, have a drink and at the end of the night leave with a painting.
I love the business idea and we had a blast painting the Boston skyline. While I've never been very good at it, I do find painting to be a fun and creative release.
In the end, it was a great three days. I got to spend quality time with people I care about, make new friends and get to see new spots in Boston.
Finally, I want to thank the team at Nokia US for a great time and inviting me to be part of it. As you can see from the image above that was taken by the Team Lumia photographer, we had a great time.
The fact that you respect influencers, support small businesses and make a great product is a winning combination. While I still haven't switched to a Windows phone, I do have a new respect for the product thanks to these sorts of experiences. Any time I can get to know the people behind a brand it is a very good thing. You've certainly done that.