Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Living in a Box

It seems this old couple have spent over 20 years and £100,000 living at Travelodge budget motels, despite owning their own home.

I travel a lot on business, and I'm responsible for booking (and paying for) my own accomodation. More often than not I also take the budget motel approach. Let's look at the reasons why I would stay at a 4 star hotel instead, which is the approach favoured by the larger consultancies for housing their staff :-

* Pool/gym etc. - I find I rarely get to use these facilities. I'm a slow riser, so morning is out. At night I'm either working late or socialising. Which means I get back too late or too full to partake.

* Room service - expensive and poor quality. If you really want a badly prepared club sandwich, you can usually get one down in the bar or in a near-by restaurant. This does eliminate the joy of eating your dinner in front of the TV in your underwear, but the same effect can be achieved by bringing a poor quality Chinese take-out back to your room.

* Laundry service - does anyone ever use this ? It seems you can double the cost of your stay this way. I guess that's only an issue if you're paying the bill. For the rest of us, if you're too lazy to bring spare clothing, there is some innocent joy to be had in washing your pants in the bath and leaving them to drip-dry overnight, with a final blow-dry with the complimentary hair-dryer in the morning. Hotel-based consultants will never know the exquisite feeling of stepping into freshly hot-aired pants on a cold morning.

* Reception desk - maybe if you were staying in a strange country and needed directions or someone to call you a cab these people would be useful. As it is, you only speak to them on checking in and again on checking-out. At a budget motel you only speak to them on checking-in as there is no checking-out : you just leave.

And then there are the positive reasons for choosing a budget motel

* Cost - the big one : there's no point spending all that time on the road if you aren't going to turn a profit.

* Convenience - easy on-line booking and cancellation. Parking often free and plentiful.

* Fun - a significant percentage of people staying have come to have sex with someone they shouldn't. I love watching people in the bar and trying to guess what their story is. Secretary and boss. Lady Sales Director and Boy Toy. Married, but not to each other. Hours of harmless enjoyment.

I will admit to there being drawbacks :-

* Location - They are often sited hell-and-gone from where you need to be, in the style of Glasgow (?) Prestwick and Frankfurt (ha, blooming ha) Hahn airports. For example, the "St. Albans" Travelinn is an irritating 40 minute drive from the centre of St.Albans in the morning rush.

* Food - the nearby facility will be a chain pub with cardboard almost-food or a Little Chef. These places are unable to cook so much as a burger properly, and you will drink too much generic beer to cover the taste. I usually end up driving to the nearest town and loading up the passenger footwell with takeout curry. This would probably be unacceptable if I were using the company Mondeo on business. It is near impossible to eat anything close to a sensible diet living this way. This is my favoured excuse for my excessive belly anyway.


ArcticFox said...

A friend of mine once actually sent his entire wardrobe for dry cleaning in a very posh hotel in Edinburgh while we were on expenses.... even his effing socks!!!

I think the bank in question who were paying our expenses still wince over this faux pas!!


(never trust a contractor)

Stan said...

In my days an Internal Auditor I have seen many, many dodgy expense claims. For example, a balding sales director whenever he visited the Hong Kong office would always claim for a haircut while he was there.

It was well-known that what he actually did was visit a brothel that would give him a receipt for a "haircut" on stationery borrowed from the barbers next door.

Nobody did anything, because he was a very good sales director. The feeling was that if he earned more than he stole we should leave him alone.