Booking a Business Trip with My Father Is Like a Comedy Routine
In some ways, I am my father’s son. In other ways, I take after my mother. When it comes to travel and an affinity for technology gadgets, I definitely take after mom. Case in point: My dad still has a shrink-wrapped unopened iPad from launch day sitting in his desk, something that leaves the family speechless, whereas my mom called me yesterday to announce that she had seen the Apple World Wide Developer Convention and needs the newly updated MacBook Pro.
In fact, in these two areas, my dad and my personalities are so far apart, it is almost comical. It rarely comes up now that I’m an adult with my own family, but occasionally, we are involved in a joint project of sorts that requires us both to be in a city. This happens to be the case this morning and booking the trip was like Iran and Israel trying to agree over peace terms, only a lot friendlier.
The Ritz Carlton vs. The Super 8
Here is the divide in summary: Dad doesn’t care where he stays. When he travels, he will drive twenty hours then pull over at a Super 8. I may want to own a Super 8, but I don’t want to sleep in one. There is nothing wrong with them. They are perfectly fine, inexpensive, affordable inns. I applaud the business. I once actually looked at one for sale in my old hometown. He likes them for those very reasons. They are cheap, mostly clean, and serve their purpose.
For me, though, I want to feel like I am at home when I travel. I prefer to fly directly to my destination, have a car pick me up, and take me to the hotel. I don’t want to think about details. I want everything effortless, streamlined, and prepared ahead of time. When I am working my way through a stack of documents at night, I want to be doing it under down feathers, cashmere, and Egyptian cotton, with great room service food available in an instant. If I want tickets to a play, art museum, or concert, I want to pick them up at the front desk. I want sparkling water, a cheese plate, and coffee waiting for me in my room. I want to be able to have my clothes dry cleaned if necessary. If I have a package overnighted, I want someone to run it up to the suite. To me, that is more important than the money.
When I travel, I have a handful of hotels that I trust. If I am in a larger city, I end up in a Ritz Carlton, Rosewood, Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria, St. Regis, etc. If I am in a smaller city, a Hilton, Marriott, or Hyatt. If I’m in the boondocks, it’s Comfort Inn & Suites due to my long love of their business model, return on equity, and cost structure.
My Typical Hotel Room
This results in a split. My typical hotel room looks something like this:
My Dad’s Typical Hotel Room
My dad’s typical hotel room, on the other hand, looks something like this:
Again, there is nothing wrong with that image. A hotel room is a hotel room is a hotel room to some people. Or, in this case, a motel room is a motel room is a motel room. But trying to reconcile these two extremes is virtually impossible. It is especially frustrating because we’re not even talking about a lot of money. The difference between a great hotel room and a cheap motel room for a few days might be $1,000 or something, which we can all easily afford.
Why not just stay at separate hotels? My mom wants all of her children nearby. I am not staying at a Super 8 and my dad is not going to pay the necessary price to stay at a Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton on principal. He’d rather invest the money. This leaves us at an impasse.
Finally Finding a Compromise
Still, that was my task: Create a situation in which everyone was happy. Thank God, it finally happened. I probably burned through half a dozen different travel itineraries until we found a surplus package from a travel site that allowed me to book the entire business trip in a luxury Omni Hotel. I got my minimum 4 stars and he can sleep knowing he didn’t pay more than $260 per night. All in all, I’m actually satisfied. Omni consistently ranks as the #1 in customer satisfaction among luxury hotels in the United States.
This was my day. I can’t tell you where I am traveling on business, but since I need to be in at least half a dozen different cities in the short-run, I will probably post pictures after the fact. I’m trying to avoid the uncomfortable random encounter of people showing up to the hotel who read the blog and want to meet me. I feel terrible saying, “I really, really can’t talk right now. I have an appointment that cannot be broken.” That way, I don’t have to feel guilty. I still worry about the people I missed the last time I was in New York, especially the older retiree that wrote and asked for my help understanding a bond concept.
This was the glamour and glitz that was my day, folks … trying to unite the Hotel Hatfields with the Motel McCoy’s.