The misery of business travel

Warning: significant “white whine” follows…

I travel a lot in my job. This, in itself, is not a problem. I like both my job and travel. The distances are rarely significant – last year was an exception, with jaunts to Poland, Spain and Switzerland. Usually, it’s within the UK or just as far as Ireland.

All good so far.

The plusses include getting to meet new people, do interesting work with interesting clients and shake up the work routine. And the odd addition to my air miles account isn’t too bad either.

As I sit in this less-than-salubrious hotel room in Cheltenham, I’m wondering if the plusses still outweigh the minuses.

Over the decade I’ve been traveling as part of my job, I’m amazed that certain challenges have yet to be addressed by hotels. They are, in the order in which they occurred to me in my uncomfortable hotel bed last night:

The Check-In

Why do you insist that, despite an online booking containing enough of my personal information to clone my identity twice over, I repeat this all in person at check-in, signing your badly printed form and giving you the same information all over again?

Name, address, telephone number etc. It’s pointless repetition and does nothing to welcome me to your establishment. It just serves to delay me in getting to my room and getting into bed. Just let me give you a credit card and give me a key in return. And if I’ve stayed with you before, don’t even think about asking me to write out my address details again.

The Food

Why are your room service menus so limited in scope and provision of healthy food? Oh yes, I can get a Chicken Tikka Masala 24hours a day, 7 days a week…but replacing chips with a salad is a Herculean task that seems to be beyond your meagre grasp of kitchen operations. Many people like things such as…vegetables and fruit. A half a tomato and limp lettuce does not constitute a “side salad”.

Adjoining Rooms

Why (oh why!) do you still have rooms with adjoining doors? Who in 2014 requires this? They all leak sound like a sieve and provide me with a running commentary of what my hotel neighbours are up to. Admittedly, sometimes this is hilarious, but mostly it just prevents me from getting to sleep. Or wakes me up half way through the night.

The Danger

Why do your bathrooms overflow with safety warnings about the temperature of the hot water and the (apparently lethal) temperature of the towel rail? If the water can scald, what not change your boiler? If the towel rail is “dangerously hot”, why not get rid of it?

The savings could be spent on pillows that support the heads and necks of your guests, maybe?

The Power

We own various electronic devices. Some of us have many of them. We need electricity to make them work. Please, please, please think about providing more than one electric socket per room. The average business traveller would like to charge his/her mobile phone and laptop at the same time.

I know, right? Crazy. Don’t leave us to move furniture around just to access your electricity.

The Wifi

Stop lying about the wifi. Don’t tell me you have free wifi but wait until I check in to point out it’s only available in the foyer. Not in my room. Don’t say you have wifi if it only reaches rooms on the ground floor.

Don’t say you have wifi if it falls over if more than two people try to read the BBC News website at the same time.

To be clear, not all hotels fall down on all these points. And this year, I’ve stayed in some amazing hotels. But none of them were in the UK. The Hilton in Tokyo and the Gran Melia Fenix in Madrid were fantastic. Most of my stays lately, however, have been in less impressive venues. Made all the worse by the attitude from staff who make you feel about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit.

Maybe, when I have time, I’ll move on to airlines. But this post has served its cathartic purpose and my room service is set to arrive any minute.

So it’s time to brace myself for that culinary delight…

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