June 15, 2005

Incredible inconsistencies

I’ve been planning many trips this week and I’m about flabbergasted at the hotel industry. I have three different trips I worked on this week and all with varying levels of complexity and pricing. Now I can understand the regional price differences, but some of these are just horrible and in one case, I nearly started a boycott of a hotel chain.

I have a business trip next week in Chicago. I will be spending three days there. Company policy states that if I have to travel three days in a row to an office that is not my own, they will put me up in a hotel pay for meals and limited entertainment. Yes, I live only 90 miles from HQ, but I have to be there by 8:00 AM and stay until 4:00 PM. That means I’m driving through rush hour, which means I will have a 2 to 4 hour drive each way. Since corporate will pay for me to have a hotel, then I’m going to use that benefit. I called corporate travel to make reservations. We have to work through them; we are not allowed to book our own. I ended up getting a room at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel in downtown Chicago. It is with in a couple of blocks of our corporate headquarters right off Grant Park. I’m glad I’m not paying for this room as they are charging $189.00 a night. Now I know Chicago is expensive, but for that price, the room should come with a complimentary blowjob from a cute maid. Booking the room was easy enough, no hassles. I just think their nightly rate is a little excessive.

I have tickets to the Packer home opener September 18th in Green Bay. Once I went to book the hotel for the night and discovered this was more of a hassle then it was worth. I knew where I wanted to stay, and I knew that I had waited too long, so getting a room would be difficult. I had to try anyways. I called Best Western; they have a hotel right by the stadium that I like for its location. After telling them what nights and where I wanted to stay, along with other logistics, they came back and told me they could only put me up Friday night there and they could put me up in a neighboring town for the next night. At first, I was polite and explained to the guy that I was not going to move hotels in the middle of my trip. He then tried to tell me he could put me up for two nights somewhere else. I didn’t want to stay in Oshkosh, which is about an hour away. I tried to end the call by saying I didn’t want to travel that far and I was going to look elsewhere. He was insistent in getting me to stay with them and tried to explain that they would transfer my luggage. I just didn’t want to deal with that kind of hassle. Then he told me it was $500.00 a night for Saturday. I went dead silent for 15 seconds before asking, “Did you say $500.00 a night for Saturday? This is Best Western isn’t it?” The guy became indignant with me so I went off on a miniature rant. Something along the lines of, “You guys need to get over yourself. I just booked a room in a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago for three nights at about the rate you are charging for one night. I’ve stayed with you before, and you’re rooms are not that nice.” After that, I ended the call. If I had gotten a room there and paid $500.00 a night, Brett Favre himself had better come over and at least fluff my wife for me. I ended up getting a room at the Wingate Inn in Appleton Wisconsin for a combined $210.00. I could not find a hotel w/in Green Bay that had two nights together. Appleton is about 25 minutes away, It’s my own fault, and I should have booked a room sooner.

We have a vacation coming up in August. Well, it’s a vacation in the loosest sense of the word; we are spending a week with my mother-in-law in Wichita Kansas. My in-laws can see the boys and my wife can show me where she grew up. The big deal with this trip is Clone, That boy does not like to travel in a car. We’ve tried many different things, all to no avail. I have 14 hours one way of driving ahead of me. I’m looking forward to that drive about as much as a kick in the nuts. At least with a kick in the nuts the pain goes away after a couple of hours. We ended up getting three different hotels. We used the same program that found us the Wingate for the Packer game. For the trip down, we are staying at the Super 8 in Williamsburg, IA for $62.88, and a Days Inn in Kansas City, MO for $62.09. On the trip, back we are staying at the Ramada in Des Moines, IA for $104.00 a night. Now I’m confused as to how all these places can charge such a varying difference in such a short period of time. The program we obtained these hotel rooms through is supposed to secure us rooms of equal quality at each of our stops.

I am finding it hard to believe that if these rooms are all of equal quality that they would vary that much in price. First off there is no way Des Moines is a more expensive region than Kansas City, MO. In fact, I have a hard time buying that Williamsburg, IA is a more expensive region then KC! IT’S IOWA PEOPLE! There is nothing in Iowa, especially the heart of it! Now some of you may be from Iowa and are starting to get a little offended. Just wait! I used to do a Highland Games in the Quad Cities. Where we saw people wearing t-shirts that read: “Proud member of the Iowa Head Injury Association.” and, “IOWA: Idiots Out Wondering Around”. Now, you Iowans have a reason to be offended!

Back to my rant, how is it more expensive to stay in a Green Bay, WI then Chicago? How do they determine the rates? Why is there no consistency? Now before you start to explain taxes to me… No prices quoted include taxes. That’s right, that is the straight room rate! I can understand up to $70.00 a night. After that, I start to wonder about these places. I mean, c’mon. I really would like to see the breakdown of expenses on these hotels to see how much of those rates are profit. I’m figuring between 50% to 100% depending on the room.

Also if anyone is looking for some company next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night in Chicago, drop me a line. I’ll be there and alone. No business companions on this trip. I could use the company, as I don’t have a laptop to blog from while in the hotel. Left to my own devices in a city like that could be bad for me... and the city.

Posted by Contagion in Rants and Raves at June 15, 2005 03:27 PM

It's a seller's market. If that Best Western was charging $500/night it's because people are desperate and stupid enough to pay $500/night. Hell, you should invest in a used pop-up camper and sleep behind the truck if you have to do that often.

Trust me, when I worked at the hotel for a year I saw the same type of room go for 60% less than full price just because it was getting late and the manager wanted the revenue.

Posted by: Graumagus at June 15, 2005 06:41 PM

I know you've tried a lot of stuff with Clone, but there are a lot of blogging mommies who might have tricks you haven't thought of.

May I suggest that you post a pic of Clone looking fussy, then blog about what you HAVE tried to get him to ride calmly, then finish up by asking for suggestions.

Then enter that post in the Karnival of Kidz.

Which Glen Reynolds instalanches every week.

Posted by: Harvey at June 16, 2005 06:55 AM


That's why Green Bay is so much more expensive. Unfortunately for them, you aren't the typical fan; willing to take objects up places they aren't meant to be, just to observe Favre and Co. from afar.

Well, that's my take on it, anyway.

Posted by: That 1 Guy at June 16, 2005 06:59 AM

We stayed in Staunton, VA last weekend at a hampton inn, normally around $100.00 a night. We had booked two rooms at a Days in just down the pike aways at a discounted rate of $39.00 a piece. When we got to the Hampton, we told them we had reserved rooms at the Days Inn for a grand total of $80, but wanted to stay in one room. They gave us what we wanted at $84.00 instead of the $104.00 the room was listed at. Nice hotel too, hot breakfast bar nice rooms, extra pillows! Sometimes negotiating works well. But as Grau said, its supply and demand, if they think they can get $500 bucks out of some sucker, then they will. I'd write to Best Western headquarters, that is way above premium rates, that is just insanity. I can stay at the Four Seasons or some other luxury hotel for less than $400 a night geez!

Posted by: Oddybobo at June 16, 2005 07:50 AM

This long-ass drive will cure Clones not liking car rides. He will get over it around hour 8. SO hang on, the screaming will drive you nuts. However it MIGHT cure him.

Posted by: ArmyWifeToddlerMom at June 16, 2005 08:01 AM

You should get one of those mobile DVD player/monitor things installed in the back of your van seat. Cartoons and stuff may not work completely, but it may help...

Posted by: Graumagus at June 16, 2005 10:29 AM

AWTM: The 7 hour trip last year did not cure him, he screamed the whole time. This trip we are not doing more then 8 hours a day, most days we are only doing up to 6. I think it's going to be a long trip. Everyone keeps telling me that just take him on a long trip and he'll get over it. My response to that theory is: Bullshit, done it. Don't work.

Grau: Clone doesn't watch cartoons. Hell he doesn't watch TV really. I'll turn it on, but generally he ignores it and plays with his toys instead. Plus I'm not wasting the money on a portable DVD player to be installed in my van. If I had wanted one of those I would have spent the money at the time I bought it for one. I don't feel those things are appropriate in vehicles anyway.

Posted by: Contagion at June 16, 2005 10:57 AM

how old is CLone?
is he still rearfacing?

Posted by: ArmyWifeToddlerMom at June 16, 2005 11:04 AM

Ok, I just typed about 5 paragraphs of stuff. I'm sending it to you via email. Just let you know I made 12 hour trips with my two boys about 6 times in 4 months when my Dad was dieing. I'll send you what we did.

Posted by: vw bug at June 16, 2005 11:20 AM

Clone is 2 and he is forward facing.

VW: those were all good ideas, except the DVD thing, they all were tried an failed.

Posted by: Contagion at June 16, 2005 12:15 PM

I'm telling you, a nice shot of whiskey will do the thing.

Either that or a gag!

Posted by: Machelle at June 16, 2005 02:20 PM

Benadryl! (I can't spell, but it knocks me out and knocks my kid out cold)

Posted by: Oddybobo at June 17, 2005 07:38 AM