Thursday, April 23, 2009

planning conference travel makes me a little crazy

In mid-July, I'm heading to Louisville for a conference. At the very least, I need to stay overnight for 2 nights. Ideally, I'll stay for four. Sound odd? Here's my logic:
  • I could fly in on Tuesday and stay Tuesday night, in which case I'd make the 9:30 plenary session.
  • I could take the first flight from Chicago to Louisville on Wednesday morning (oh, Southwest, how I love you) and be there in time for the first block of concurrent sessions at 11:30.
  • I could leave at thee end of the sessions on Friday, only missing one block of concurrent sessions on Saturday and the closing plenary, which is by a guy who gave an address at last year's conference (meaning that if I miss it, my life will still go on).
  • I could leave on Saturday when the conference is officially done.
One of the problems is the hotels.

The first year I went (2007), I didn't do my homework. I stayed at the conference hotel (call me naive), when I could have stayed equally close to the convention center at a less glam chain. The upside to that would have been free breakfast and free internet, neither of which were provided by the conference hotel.

Last year, I again stayed at the conference hotel, but this time it was because there was nothing else nearby. They'd done some renovations, and I hear some of the guest rooms were nice. Mine was mediocre, as was my stay there. Again, no free internet or breakfast.

This year, I'm so over this no-complimentary-internet-or-breakfast bullshit. I've done my homework. There's a Hampton Inn 4 or 5 blocks away, which seems pretty damn reasonable to me. But the kicker? It costs $20 more per night than the conference hotel (with the conference discount), which I've read is only good if you get into the renovated section. The Hampton Inn, of course, has free breakfast and internet, which the conference hotel does not. Is it worth the extra money? I'm thinking it is because the stay will be so much nicer (if the conference track record stands), and I won't have to shell out big bucks every morning for... a bagel. (Actually, the first year, I got supplies at the local drugstore and ate breakfast in my room everyday.)

Let's not forget about my shout-out to Southwest above. I can fly roundtrip for about $130 (or so I'm guessing with the taxes, etc.). AWESOME. I was all set to book yesterday--flight at least but probably also the hotel--when I remembered: my dad lives in Kentucky. To be specific, he lives about 90 miles south of Louisville. Perhaps A and I could work out some time either before or after my conference to go down and stay a couple of days with him and his wife. I know A would like it out there in the country, and it might be relaxing in the summer.

So, I haven't booked anything. This frustrates me.

This morning, I did go through the conference booklet and assess the actual conference costs: $445 for conference attendance, including 1 banquet lunch and a couple of snacks here and there. Yesterday, my boss advised me to make an effort to stay at or below $1,000 in my conference expenses. If you're playing at home, that means that after conference registration and airfare, I have around $425 for hotel expenses. (And yes, they should be feeding me, but they don't.) That, my friends, means 3 nights at the hotel (and perhaps food) to make it to the $1,000 total. The past two years, the costs have been anywhere from $250-500 more.

I want to lock in my cheeeeeeeap rates for the flights and hotel, but I gotta talk to the wifey, who's out at a client today. (Our schedules yesterday didn't give us much time for talking about this.) This makes me anxious because I'm SURE that by tomorrow, when we've had a chance to talk about it together and with my dad, the prices will have jumped by hundreds of dollars.

Oh, work travel.


Amanda said...

I recommend the Hampton Inn. We stayed at one for several days last summer, and the breakfasts were great (much more than just a continental breakfast).

GourmetGoddess said...

Whatever you do, don't stay at a Knight's Inn! I did that last year to help our mutual employer save some money, and I could not deadbolt the lock on my door, and management had no inclination to fix it. I was freaked out!