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Michael Cottam 27 February 2008

Michael Cottam

Travel: any which way but bus!

Michael grew up in Canada (eh), getting an electrical engineering degree at McGill before moving to Toronto to work at IBM Canada headquarters.  After two years, he managed to escape the Immense Blue Monolith and got into consulting…two years later, Michael moved to Portland and joined Intersolv (previously known as Polytron, Sage, later known as Merant, then Serena).

After Intersolv came STEP Technology…and from there, Michael left to found TheBigDay–an online honeymoon registry and travel company–with fellow Portlander Terry Beard, in 2001. TheBigDay subsequently won one of the Better Business Bureau’s Business of the Year awards in 2004.

To escape the boredom that comes with a career in computers, Michael got into racing things with motors, doing the 6,000-mile winter Rally of the Lost Patrol in the Arctic twice (in the dead of winter), and motorcycle racing at Portland International Raceway.

Michael’s love of cars and motorcycles led to dabbling in freelance photography and even a little writing, with photos published in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, and articles on Motorcycle.com on the Ducati 748 and MV Agusta F4 Strada.

Michael and his wife Melinda are gradually restoring an older home in North Portland, while their 1 1/2 year old son Benjamin simultaneously tries to tear it apart.

What are you up to?

Raising 1-year-old Benjamin with my wife Melinda; riding motorcycles (used to race motorcycles with OMRRA too…no more…*sigh*); continuing to grow TheBigDay, and travel to exotic places whenever possible.  Recent trips have included Kenya, the Seychelles, Tahiti, Hawaii, and Thailand.

What are you into?

Definitely exploring the world, whether it’s on a motorcycle, by plane, or with a scuba tank on my back.  Showing the world to my son Benjamin and seeing him discover it for the first time.  Helping engaged couples find that perfect part of the world to discover for themselves on their honeymoon–and all sorts of cool internet technology that helps them do that.

What do you like most about Portland?

Portland’s a great blend of accessible nature and the outdoors and a lively city spirit (music, restaurants, shows).

How do you see technology and the internet affecting how people travel?

It’s way, way beyond just the ability to shop & book online…it’s rich media (photos, 360 degree tours, videos) to help visualize a place you’re considering visiting…it’s social networking systems to get opinions and advice from people who aren’t trying to sell you something…and it’s services that make it dead easy to share your experiences (photos, videos, journals) with others who are either interested in going there, or friends who want to get a taste of that experience through you.

What’s top of your list for your next part of the world to explore?

I’m always drawn to exotic islands with small, boutique resorts (rather than high-rise hotels)….so Fiji, the Cook Islands, and the Maldives all are high on my list at present.

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