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Monday, March 1, 2010

company makes us share hotel rooms

A reader writes:

Whenever we have an out-of-town business trip, upper management sets us up in double rooms (with a "roommate"). I understand trying to cut costs with the economy what it is, but this seems odd. It's nice to come back to the privacy of your hotel room after a full day of business meetings or conferences. Have you heard of this practice at other companies? How would you recommend handling this?

Yep, it's not uncommon, especially for junior level employees. In the nonprofit world, it's more common than not.

I'm right there with you on wanting privacy, and traveling for work can be a real pain in the ass so it would be nice to have more amenities when you're doing it ... but yeah, not uncommon.

This is a particularly lame and short answer.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ask manager, you're so biased. Did anyone ever tell you that? Maybe u should change your handle to "working for the manager" as you never seem to take the employee's side. Tsk, tsk.

Anonymous said...

I don't travel for work often, but I have never been asked or told I needed to share a room. That's ludicrous.

I would share my concerns with management. At the very least, I'd ask to pay the difference between single and double and I'd have my own room. Worst case, I'd book my own anyway, and start a job search.

Prius Dei Servus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hank Hill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm @ an out of town conference for work right now, and my company has this type of policy, so I found this post very interesting.

I had a baby a couple of months ago and am breastfeeding, so I have to pump. Luckily, my boss fought to get me a company-paid-for single room; otherwise, the expectation was that I would pay the difference to get a single room or that I room with someone else. I have to get up multiple times in the middle of the night to pump, so a roomie's sleep would be interrupted, too, if I shared a room, presumably making her less effective (not to mention probably pretty grouchy)... That my employer is so cheap/short-sighted is crazy to me, but here I am!

Hank Hill said...

@Anon: AAM wasn't taking any sides in this answer nor was she asked to. She was just stating that this isn't a terribly uncommon practice. In fact, from the tone of her reply it sounded like she wishes it were different.

Anonymous said...

I'm @ an out of town conference for work right now, and my company has this type of policy, so I found this post very interesting.

I had a baby a couple of months ago and am breastfeeding, so I have to pump. Luckily, my boss fought to get me a company-paid-for single room; otherwise, the expectation was that I would pay the difference to get a single room or that I room with someone else. I have to get up multiple times in the middle of the night to pump, so a roomie's sleep would be interrupted, too, if I shared a room, presumably making her less effective (not to mention probably pretty grouchy)... That my employer is so cheap/short-sighted is crazy to me, but here I am!

Sarah G said...

This seems inconvenient but not ludicrous to me. I think my opinion depends on how often this person has to travel for work, and how long the trips are. If it's once every few months for a couple nights, then it doesn't seem like a big deal. But if it's for 5 days every month or two, then it would seem less reasonable.

Richard said...

I'm a bit confused about why they have a double room - Wouldn't a twin room be more appropriate, and cost about the same?

Hi, it's Missy Em! said...

I had to share a room once and while it was in a 5 star hotel, it lead to nothing but problems. We both irritated each other and she suspected me of stealing her necklace and went through my luggage. Not a side I expected to see of my colleague.

So while it is uncommon, It's not worth it.

ESL Teacher said...

My husband once shared a hotel room with FOUR male coworkers on a business trip to Europe.

Yup.

Kerry Noone said...

My husband owns his own business and travels at times with a business friend who also owns his own business - they share rooms often. They don't care and it saves on their travel expenses that would come out of their profits. Personally I think it's uncomfortable and I would pay the difference to have my own if my company required it... but they don't so I guess that's a good thing for me!

snikta said...

I'll go ahead and point out that this is a management perspective...

Employees on overnight travel can be really expensive. In my experience, many employees treat the trip like a mini-(employer sponsored)-vacation with expensive dinners and such. Expecting your employer to double your lodging cost so you can have some privacy is unrealistic. If you are traveling overnight for work, you are presumably an adult. Your roommate and you can work out a way for each of you to have ample opportunity to unwind and relax without your employer having to pay extra. Business travel should be done as cheaply as possible. Sharing a room is common sense.

The Gold Digger said...

My first job out of college, I worked for an insurance company. Any time there was a company meeting (once a year and our initial six-week corporate training), we shared rooms. Even at the big sales award conference where you had to be one of the top sellers (pats self on back modestly), we shared rooms. That's the one where I thought that the $13 breakfast allowance (in 1987) was going to allow me to eat like a king. Ha. Palm Springs resorts are not cheap, even for Cheerios.

But I never thought this was odd. Of course, I had just come out of college and was not used to privacy.

In my later job with the paper company, we were not expected to share rooms for trade shows, but may I point out that the paper company's earnings were lousy? And that they have had layoffs for the past ten years and their stock price continues to fall? Fortunately, the CEO still gets his bonus. But I digress.

When my husband goes to his big annual industry conference, they share rooms, partly because of cost and partly because there just isn't that much hotel space available.

fposte said...

Most of my industry's business travel is for conferences, and room-sharing (Steve, a "double" just means "a room for two people," not "a room with a double bed instead of two twin beds") is extremely common, possibly even the norm, at all levels, including quite senior. I have some health issues that make me more comfortable on my own, so I pay out of my own pocket for the single.

Anonymous said...

Funny, no-one's touched on the buddy system.. Or keeping an eye on your co-worker to make sure things don't get out of control.

I've always likend this situation to an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The devil usually tells me to smother the expense obsessive suckup co-worker while they sleep.

Anonymous said...

I know that this wasn't addressed in the post but would the company ever mandate that a man and women share the same room? Generally employers will not mandate sharing rooms with opposite genders because of sexual harrasment so to me, a policy that individuals of the same sex must share a room is discriminatory and shortsighted if they believe that harrasment doesn't happen between individuals of the same gender. I think all companies should encourage sharing rooms for cost cutting, but never mandate it. That is what our company does and most people will choose to share rooms because they are incredibally aware of our bottom line but those that do not feel comfortable, do not have to.

Anonymous said...

When I was a lowly marketing intern I would get my own room only if I traveled with men (I'm a woman), so I always lobbied for the trips that the dudes were going on. When I traveled with the other two (lady) interns to our big-big conference the three of us shared a room with a roll-away :( it was crowded and sad.

Anyways, it IS uncomfortable and kind of sucky, but its also not the worst thing in the world.

Anonymous said...

My former company had a policy of always requiring roommates, except senior managers/directors. My first trip, I was fairly new to the department and ended up rooming with a woman who was 7 months pregnant who was also fairly new - a little uncomfortable for both of us. But at subsequent meetings, I looked forward to rooming with one of my counterparts from the opposite coast - gave us time to catch up with each other! Granted, these were annual meetings - I think it would have started to wear on us if it had been once a month or something. But for us, the company's cost savings became our once-a-year chance to hang out in person. (And now, many years later, we're still friends...) Although I will admit, at another company I worked where they wouldn't have dreamed of having roommates, it was nice to relax alone - especially since I didn't have the same friendships at that company.

Anonymous said...

I've always been asked to share rooms on trips- it cuts costs. If it bothers you that much, and you can afford it, you usually have the option of buying yourself into a single.

Bethany said...

Reading this I'm thankful that my nonprofit puts us up in single rooms. The way they see it is that we have different schedules of when we need to be places and are already going through the inconvenience of being away from our homes. Plus, I pay a lot to live on my without a roommate, I expect my hotel to not be worse than my tiny studio. I don't expect kitchens or anything, but having to share a room could be awful for an employee with OCD, hyperekplexia, or many other neurosyndromes. Plus, I like having a wall of separation between myself and my coworkers. While there are a few I'd be cool with seeing in my jammies, most I'd rather not.

Anonymous said...

The legitimacy of this practice really depends on the sort of trip. If it's domestic travel that's arguably optional (conferences or non-mission critical meetings) than rooming together makes sense.

If they're flying you halfway around the world, then doubling up is completely unacceptable. It makes jet lag recovery a lot harder, for one thing. People have different strategies for this and one person may want to sleep while the other would rather stay awake.

Also, if you're in a country where foodborne illness is commonplace, when your roommate gets sick things become very awkward indeed.

Richard said...

@fposte: Tell that to the hotel me and a friend went to in Ireland who thought that we were a gay couple when we mistakenly asked for a double room, and had to come back downstairs to ask for a twin! ;)

Anonymous said...

I've never had a problem with sharing rooms, which is very common for saving money. Many hotels don't have a room for everyone, especially for large conferences.

In my experience I always had my own room, but I knew that it was the exception and not the rule.

Anonymous said...

This is a funny post.

I agree that the type of company, employee and trip all have an effect on this.

From where I am, we have a couple of annual conferences that we send sales staff to. Generally there are more people wanting to go than we can afford to send. So usually the it comes to: Look we only have $X to spend on this conference, so if you are OK with sharing a room, more of us can go. Most folks here are pretty cool with that.

Another thought in the balance: How would your company's clients/customers feel about it? Even if it isn't something they see the bill for directly, it's important to realize it will hit them somehow and either end of the spectrum (too cheap or too extravagant) can ring a sour note.

fposte said...

@Richard--point taken; I was thinking of American usage. You're on your own abroad. Or, rather, sounds like you weren't :-).

And it's also a good point wherever you're going to check what the actual arrangements mean--I know many hotels that have smaller doubles with just the one bed, and you definitely want to avoid that surprise!

Sue said...

I once shared a room with a co-worker who snored. When it came time to give my presentation the next day, I nearly fell asleep at the podium. No more room sharing for me!

Anonymous said...

I was an intern and during training, I had to share a hotel room with a fellow intern. It didn't bother me, and as for privacy, I usually went back to relax while my fellow intern went out for drinks or whatnot. I got a couple of hours to myself.

It's for a couple of days, not a lifetime. If it's a trust issue, then bring a small lock to put on your suitcase. If it's about relaxation time, either find a way outside the hotel or go to the pool.

Anonymous said...

If a company can't afford to give people their own rooms, they shouldn't be sending people on business trips. Try a conference call instead.

Anonymous said...

Just remember that it's better than the norm on high school and college trips around here: the general standard for those seems to be 2 to a bed, 4 to a room.

Sharing just a room seems downright reasonable after that.

Anonymous said...

Snikta, as management if you really think this type of travel is prevalent, the travel expenses aren't the real problem. Pissing away salaries, overhead and opportunity cost is. Bluntly, the travel expenses are a pretty small % of what you are losing.

Genuine business travel needs to be efficient. Jet lagged, sleep deprived or simply privacy deprived employees don't make good decisions. Saving $150 per night for an extra hotel room might cost way more than you think.

Anonymous said...

If it's truly a pain and employer won't pay, I'd suck it up and pay the difference to get my own room.

The other thing to think about is whether or not your roommate has allergies or other medical situations that deem a room-sharing situation impossible.

Anonymous said...

I snore terribly. My husband has to wear earplugs. I'd be mortified if I had to share a room with a coworker!

Anonymous said...

Unacceptable and unprofessional business policy. A complete invasion of privacy to expect co-workers to share a hotel room and presumably a bathroom. I would not work for a company that expected this. There is no need for excessive expenses during business travel. But, expecting professional colleagues to share a room is offensive and uncalled for.