I am sitting in bed at a budget hotel, propped up by so-called pillows that resemble Chiclets. I am not ashamed to say that I am eating tiramisu out of a Styrofoam container, which came back with me in a restaurant doggy bag. I am staying for just one night, in a city that will remain unnamed, as I prefer that the circumstances of this trip remain vague and the client remain anonymous.
Trust me when I say I "get" that it's a new day and we all have to be seriously reasonable about business expenses. I grew up in a small town where we had breakfast after church on Sunday at a Holiday Inn. It is completely acceptable to be asked by clients to stay in moderately priced accommodations. At the same time, I have noticed that the "standard corporate rate" approved by some companies has sunk to a low not seen since I crashed at government-run hotels during a backpacking trip through Mexico in the 80's.
While IRS employees "feeling their party animal" (on our public dime) are emboldened to don Maryann and Gilligan costumes and create video entertainment for their colleagues, I am just trying to get some sleep within these paper-thin walls. I fielded a 9:30 PM call from the front desk, jolting me out off a dessert-induced coma to ask if I was the one who was looking for a liquor store in the area. (I was not). While our government "servants" were charging our taxpayer credit card $3,400/night for a Vegas suite, I was hoping breakfast here at the corporate approved $104/night place might include a hard boiled egg or biscuits with gravy. I settled instead for Fruit Loops and skim milk. And took my coffee black because the guy next to me in line said the cream smelled like it was expired.
The world is nuts. I think I speak on behalf of weary business travelers everywhere who don't always get a ride on the corporate plane. Most of the time, the budget hotels where business travel is approved are clean and the people are nice. Still, when you arrive in the evening after a delayed flight and the best thing on the menu is a heart-clogging tray of nachos with synthetic cheese, you have to just smile. I wonder what would happen if frequent-traveling employees or company visitors were regarded less like expenses, and more like guests.
Maybe you're thinking, stop moaning. Choose a better hotel and pay the difference. Good point. It's just that, I didn't plan. And I don't want to be a pain. The client's procurement guy is happy and I will look forward to sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night.
As I said, we are all watching our bottom lines. Still, you have to think about the cost of going cheap. I believe it was Warren Buffett who said "price is what you pay, value is what you get." What is the value of having worn out people working in your company the next day? If they have been awakened by late-night revelers carrying on boozy conversations down the hall past their door, or trucks rumbling down the highway around the corner, is it harder for them to give 100% the next morning?
Hey, fellow road warriors...tiramisu, anyone?