Friday, October 07, 2016
Traveling in Discomfort and Style
One of the projects I am responsible for at work is organizing a national conference. Managing the conference is frustrating at time, but I love doing it. This year is a smashing success, we have sold out the venue and had to turn people away. So I have started the process of finding a venue (hotel) for next year. The hotel contract also locks in the dates.
I am working with a "meetings and travel" professional, who worked with me to put together a bid package that was sent out to probably 100 hotels in the DC metro area. Three bids came in last week, two more today. Of the three that came in last week, one caught my eye, and another one was workable. So we set up site visits for me to see two hotels. One is a mid-price national chain, the hotel is three blocks from a metrorail station and they gave me directions on how to walk to the hotel from the subway.
The other is a "luxury chain" and email message said, "we will send a car to pick you up at your office and drive you to the hotel, the driver has been instructed to wait for your return to the office so you won't be delayed." My immediate reaction was my mother's voice screaming at me, "behave and know your place." I don't know about you, but I don't normally ride around town in a chauffeur driven Cadillac CT6, but I did today.
It started with a text message the evening before, saying that the car would pick me up at 10:30 AM at my office. About 10:15, my phone chimed, I looked at it about 10:20 and it was a message from the driver that he was out front. I grabbed my phone and glasses and headed for the elevator, texting the driver that I would be there in five minutes. Damn, someone who is even earlier than I am. I stepped out front and the driver jumped out, ran around and opened the rear passenger side door before I could get across the sidewalk. He recognized me, someone must have found my picture online and sent it to him (the hotel sales guy had read my resume online and knew where I went to school at.) Off we go, at a snails pace in DC traffic to the Ritz.
Now it is a nice way to travel. There is a certain style about it, but I somehow felt oddly uncomfortable, a little out of place. I looked down and I was wearing the running shoes I wear on the metro, I had intended to change into dress shoes before I left the office, but with the driver being early and rushing to leave, the basic black Asics Cumulus 17s were still on my feet. At least my black shoes matched the car, black, with black leather interior. The chauffeur, he gave me his card and that is his title, was wearing a black suit, white shirt and tie. Thank-gwad, he wasn't wearing a funny hat.
The ride out took about 30 minutes, including driving past the Metrorail station that is 4-minutes and 48 seconds walking time from the hotel - at the pace the assistant sales manager walks. The hotel was nice, and is a viable option. I have one more to see, plus look at the late bids that came in. For the next one I take the subway and walk, that will not have the style, and be more in my comfort zone.