That Hotel is More Expensive Than You Think

Your employees may be able to save over $100 per night on hotel rooms, depending on a number of factors such as location, hotel class and amenities. But in the end, is it worth it? Let’s take a look.

Meet Sarah, a model employee whose job often requires her to travel but who also values family time.

Today, she’s booking a trip that will take her to the city center of a major metropolitan market two time zones away. Her plan is to visit a long-time client the day she arrives and to visit a potential customer first thing the next morning, with the hope that she’ll be able to return in time to see her son’s 7 p.m. basketball game.

Sarah finds a flight with a connection that will work, but she’ll need to be to the airport by 5:30 a.m. Not ideal, but she’s done it before.

As she looks at hotels, Sarah can’t find anything downtown for less than $400. She knows her booking will be scrutinized by her manager if she books anything more than $250, so she opts for a three-diamond chain hotel near the airport for $230.

Sarah doesn’t want to rent a car in this situation because she knows parking will be a nightmare near her two meetings.


Two weeks later

Sarah wakes up to her alarm bright and early, and not long after says goodbye to her loved ones at home. After an easy ride to the airport, she is notified of a one-hour flight delay. Doing mental math, she figures she is still barely on track.

Thankfully, there are no further delays and Sarah lands at noon, as she predicted. “Do I have time for lunch?” she thinks to herself as she walks off the plane. “I don’t know, I’ll figure it out later.”

Sarah can’t check into her hotel before her customer appointment because the hotel’s location is not convenient and would cause extra delay in her travel. On a normal day, the drive downtown should take about 20 minutes, but bad weather is causing backups and Sarah is already running behind schedule due to the airline delay.

Sarah takes advantage of the long ride by answer as many emails on her phone as possible—partially to stay caught up, but really to keep from stressing about the time.

She has a terrific meeting that ends a little before 4 pm, with Sarah selling additional services to an already terrific client.

She knows at this time traffic back to her hotel is going to be terrible. After a nearly one-hour ride that costs $48, Sarah is back at her hotel to check in. For a brief minute, she contemplates a workout, but decides she just doesn’t have the energy left. Plus, she knows she’ll have to be up early tomorrow to fight traffic (again) to make her 8 a.m. appointment.

By the time she calls home and talks with her family, Sarah is ready for bed. Even though it’s not yet 9 p.m., she’s still on her own time zone and it feels like 11.

The next morning, Sarah is up early and ready to roll out of the hotel by 6:45 a.m. Traffic builds quickly as the driver brings her closer downtown. This time, the trip lasts nearly 50 minutes and has a cost of $40.

Sarah has another terrific meeting; although she doesn’t close a sale, she’s told her company is now one of two left in the running for a significant piece of business.

As Sarah heads back to the airport to catch her 10:30 a.m. flight, she’s feeling tired, but good. She touches down at 6:15 p.m. and drives straight to her son’s game.


The Breakdown

Let’s break down the cost of Sarah’s choice to book the lower cost, less desirable location hotel, factoring in the necessary additional ground transportation as well as some of the less tangible costs.

Sarah needed to take two additional shared rides on this trip; had she stayed at a downtown hotel, she only would have needed one ride into downtown and one back to the airport. The additional trips directly cost her company $88 ($48 + $40).

These rides meant Sarah spent nearly two additional hours in the back of a car during her trip. While she was able to do some work during this time on her mobile phone, these two hours likely would have been more productive in her hotel room.

Finally, from a wellness point of view, Sarah faced added stress at a number of points: a delayed flight, odd mealtimes and the lack of energy to exercise, due to those earlier stressors.

If you remember, Sarah could have booked a downtown hotel for $400, but chose the $230 airport option instead. From a sheer dollar point of few, Sarah saved only $82 by choosing the airport hotel over a downtown property that would’ve been near her appointments.

At the end of this trip, and possibly for future trips, Sarah and her company need to ask themselves, “Was $82 worth it?” The trip resulted in a signed agreement for thousands of dollars’ worth of business and set up the company to gain a new client.

Regardless of what they decide, one thing is certain: That hotel room Sarah booked to save the company money was more expensive than it appeared.


Booking a hotel has other costs that are just as important to consider. 

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