Lessons from Different Hotel Standards
The latest "Father Figuring" column
Jessie loves to travel, especially when the trip requires staying at a hotel. Her mom, Mattie, has taken us along on several of her work trips, which are often in tourist-friendly cities at excellent hotels. This works fine when Mattie’s employer reimburses her for travel expenses. However, Jessie has set her hotel standards at the level of these super-nice conference hotels, and super-nice is expensive.
When I told Jessie I was planning a two-city, daddy-daughter book tour, she turned from a 12-year-old, sixth-grade student to a seasoned travel agent right before my eyes. After racing for my phone, Jessie got right down to business, searching for the best deals. (If I had been holding my smartphone, I’d be typing this column with less than a full complement of fingers.)
When Jessie was young and all the other rooms at a hotel where Mattie needed to stay were sold out, Mattie once had to book a room in the “Club Level,” which offered free drinks and snacks throughout the day in the “Club Lounge.” Since it was in a fun city, Jessie and I went along. That’s where Jessie learned the word “hors d’oeuvres.” Who would have guessed this would make her think that what she called a “much-needed snack” is an essential hotel amenity.
Now, let me point out that I also like nice hotels and stayed in a few of them when I traveled on business. Like Jessie, I have quality standards when selecting hotels, but my criteria are different than hers. Safety is of paramount importance. The room must also be clean and smoke-free. Last, but not least, I don’t want bugs of any variety sharing my bed or any part of my room. Unlike Jessie, I also have financial standards, and I won’t break the bank for a place to sleep.
We took our book tour road trip and had a wonderful time. Much to Jessie’s disappointment, however, we stayed at a hotel that cost less than her preferred choice at our first stop. I don’t know if it allowed dogs — it didn’t matter, as our dog stayed home with Mattie. Safe, clean, smoke- and bug-free, I found it satisfactory. The price mattered to me.
I pointed out the savings to Jessie, who also enjoys other activities that cost money. “That’s a lot of book sales, Jessie! You could take several saxophone lessons with that much money.”
Jessie understood the numbers. Still, when we arrived at the hotel, she was less than impressed with the room’s cleanliness and shared her inner critic with me — several times. She even took it upon herself to clean the entire hotel room. Not only did I save money, I found out Jessie has strong cleaning skills. (This knowledge will come in handy when I remind her to clean her room and it doesn’t end up spotless.)
At our second city, we spent two nights at a different hotel. This room, recently remodeled, met Jessie’s immediate approval without her lifting a finger. I witnessed a complete change in Jessie’s attitude. Apparently an extra $30 per night makes a difference.
I look forward to future trips with Jessie. Breaking away from our daily routines and spending time together in a car and hotel bring out different conversations. We get to know each other better and we learn about other people and places, too. It doesn’t need to be super expensive to be super fun.
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and author of “MoMENts: A Dad Holds On,” available on Amazon. Learn more about him at patrickhempfing.com.