October 23, 2009

This week I spent a few days in Philadelphia for work as usual. However, while I usually have really good trips because Philadelphia offers restaurants I just can’t get in Madison, this trip had to be my worst travel experience ever. The signs it would be a bad trip started when my travel department told me “something BIG” was going on in Philly this week and the only hotel they could book me at was the Comfort Inn.

Upon arriving around 11:30pm, Comfort Inn tells us (me and two co-workers) they’re overbooked and don’t have any available rooms (despite our reservations). I understand airlines do this. I was unaware hotels did too (though it does make perfect business sense I guess). Anyways, they called around to find us a room in another hotel for the night. Since Cherry Hill was full, they put us out in Trevose, PA (“just north of Philadelphia”). We should’ve realized this was a bad idea when the cab’s GPS couldn’t find the address, but we ignored it and took the directions the hotel gave us. Turns out, the Comfort Inn in Trevose is almost 30 miles away from the Comfort Inn Downtown, and the hotel gave us terrible directions. More importantly, between the cab GPS and our fancy smartphone GPS, neither  could find where the hotel was or even pinpoint where we were in the cab. When the road we were on had no streetlights, very few houses, and eventually started turning into gravel, we decided it was time to turn around and just find any hotel we could.

Problem – the 73rd ACR/ARHP convention was being held in Philadelphia, and not even joking, every single hotel in the city was booked. When we called our travel agency to find us a hotel for one night, we couldn’t get anything within the city or in New Jersey (and taking cabs in and out of the city gets real expensive real fast). And every hotel we saw along the highway – full. We eventually gave up on trying to find a hotel through the travel agency and got our cab to take us to the Courtyard Marriott downtown, our regular hotel. We figured the Marriott network had to be better than the Comfort Inn network. Besides, it was almost 1:30am and our cab fare was climbing toward $130 already. Our poor cab driver probably hated us, and let’s be honest – over an hour in a cab gets old pretty fast. Anyways, Marriott was nice enough (probably because one of us had platinum status) to give us one room for the night – which technically put them at over capacity, but it gave us a place to sleep.

In the end, let’s just say that I love my co-workers, but three of us sleeping in one room was not exactly the most comfortable situation. It wasn’t even awkward because I was the only girl, but more that it’s just weird to sleep in the same room with two people I don’t really know on that level. And I was reminded how much I like having my own bathroom.

Marriott will be getting a very nice thank you letter. Comfort Inn will not.



  1. It’s only gonna get better in Philadelphia when the World Series starts next week. Hope you weren’t affected by the rioting on Wednesday!

  2. Ahhh… so much hatred generated on so many parties, as a result of Comfort Inn’s greed. Hope you and your co workers find better accommodations for the rest of your stay though.

  3. I didn’t know that hotels are allowed to overbook! I mean when you bump someone off a plane, it’s like a few hours delay and at worst a free hotel stay for the night. But when you bump someone out of a room, you’re essentially putting them out for the night, and chances are if that hotel is full then so are the ones in the area. That’s kind of messed up.

    • That’s exactly what I thought!

  4. This is pure speculation, but I have heard that people with a certain status in airline miles can get a plane to wait for them when they’re late. Perhaps hotels don’t routinely overbook, but if someone had a million Comfort Inn points, perhaps they were able to bump you because the hotel would rather keep them happy than you guys.

    • Lies about the airplanes. Once you have a certain status with an airline (or a hotel), even if you have a bad experience, you won’t switch because you’ll be giving up all the other perks you get. Also, status gives you priority when trying to get on another flight; you get put on the top of the list, no matter if other people (with lesser status) were there first.

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