How is this for a dream gig? You have to travel to every country in the world in one year in search of happiness. All expenses are covered and you also get paid a salary. That is exactly what Coca Cola’s Expedition 206 is about.
I think this is a phenomenal example of corporate marketing in this social media age. It is also a dream opportunity for the three lucky winners who have recently started their world tour. Kelly Ferris, 23 of Brussels, Antonio Santiago, 24 of Mexico City, and Tony Martin, 29 of Washington D.C. managed to find some time to answer my questions in this interview.
Please tell us about the expedition in your own words.
Kelly: Basically, Expedition 206 is a chance for us to travel to every country in the world, plus a few territories, in search of happiness. Now we know that sounds a bit broad but it is, indeed, our actual goal. Through interviews and interactions, we are on a quest to discover happiness around the globe and then share that experience through a variety of social media platforms, all centralized on our website, expedition206.com.
Why you three? How did you apply for this adventure and why were you chosen?
Kelly: We all received the applications through different avenues. I heard about it from a teacher, Antonio from a friend and Tony from LonelyPlanet.tv. After the application, Coke flew eighteen awesome travelers from around the world to participate in a one week interview in Atlanta, Georgia. We participated in a variety of group activities and in the end, Coke chose three teams of three to go into a final phase of public online voting. Our team, The Mix, was one of those teams placed together and luckily, the world voted for us.
What did you do to prepare for the trip?
Tony: Personally, I figured the hardest part of this trip would be missing my family, friends, my dog and sleep. So, to prepare for this trip, I slept as much as I could while playing with my dog every chance I got and spending lots of time with my family and friends. All of us also got eight vaccinations before we left. Talk about a sore arm!
Are you being paid salaries for this tour or is it just expenses?
Tony: We are all being paid salaries for this as well as expenses. Sweet gig, huh?
How much is your spending allowance?
Kelly: Our spending allowance is moderate. We are by no means going to live like kings but, on the other hand, we will not starve.
How many people do you travel with?
Kelly: Actually, we just travel with the three of us. We have become well acquainted with airports and customs. We make sure that we wake each other up on time and get ourselves to the airport in a timely manner. So far, so good.
What type of accommodations do you stay in?
Tony: Our hotel rooms are not the most posh but not the worst either. Again, we have a pretty moderate allowance. Kelly generally stays in a room by herself and Antonio and I share a double room and then we all split the cost three ways.
Are the three of you usually together or are you on your own in each country?
Kelly: For the most part, we stick together. It’s a good thing I actually like these guys 🙂 Sometimes, when there is a lot of work to be done, one of us will stay behind while the others go adventuring but, for the most part, whenever there is a specific activity we want to do, we do it together.
Can you do whatever you want or do you have an itinerary planned for you?
Antonio: This actually switches back and forth. In some places, we are free to do whatever we want and in others, we have a local Coca-Cola market guide that has an itinerary set for us. Both ways offer great benefits. Sometimes, we do whatever we want and others, the guide shows us things we would have never come up with on our own. It’s been a really special experience.
Do you usually have a driver taking you places or are you using public transportation and walking?
Antonio: This goes back and forth, also. Generally, in the countries where we have a heavy itinerary set by Coke, we’ll have a driver to get us to those places. A lot of the time though, we are on our own.
Are you eating in restaurants every meal?
Tony: Mostly, we do eat in a LOT of restaurants. We were just in Mexico City, though, staying at Antonio’s mom’s house and it was AMAZING to have finally had a home cooked meal.
Do you have much free time to just relax and rest?
Tony: Well, it is 3:00 am now, after a 17 hour scheduled day and I need to wake up in four hours. I am, however, having the grandest time of my life and quite honestly, I can sleep next year :). The motto of this trip for me has been, “Sleep when you can and eat when you can.” You will catch me taking power naps all over the place, from buses to the floor in Coke offices, which happened today.
Are you drinking a lot of coke everywhere you go? 🙂
Antonio: We drink our fair share of Coke but that’s by choice. We also take every opportunity to drink water and juice as well.