It’s funny to me that whenever I mention to somebody that I own a home-based business, they frequently remark, “Wow, that must be nice! Setting your own hours…” They give me such incredulous looks when I tell them that the reality is much less glamorous. In fact, I am never really off-duty.
I know a number of agents who operate the same way, whether they work for a company or for themselves. Many agents haul their laptops with them even on a cruise, making sure to spend a couple of hours every night during their sailing answering emails and making or changing reservations. I have been known to reply to clients via email, or sometimes live chat, at three or four in the morning.
This point was driven home to me even further earlier this month when I was on vacation. A friend and I had made the completely insane decision to drive from New Jersey to Florida to see a show at a venue in the Downtown Disney area, and then drive back. When we got there, I used my industry knowledge to find a hotel that I thought I could trust. There are many properties in the Disney area of Orlando, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by choices. When we spotted this particular property, I suggested that we give it a try, having had great success with this chain in the past both personally and professionally.
The front desk staff was delightful, and even though it was just after noon, we were able to check right in. We were housed in a handicap accessible room that, while not necessary for us, was just fine. That is, until I saw the room.
You see, there were significant “challenges” with this room. Whether it was given to us because we made it known that we wouldn’t be there all night, or because we looked like we wouldn’t kick up much of a fuss, I don’t know. What I do know is that I went in hoping for a nice clean, quiet room; and what I got was a room that… well, it was filthy, at least the bathroom was. A used contact was on the floor, a number of hairs were stuck to the wall and pocket door, and a strange brownish-amber liquid of unknown origin had been flung at the door and allowed to drip down. We were also treated to shampoo and conditioner bottles that had already been used by the previous guest, a shower curtain that I would hesitate to use as anything but perhaps a covering for a cat bed, and a toilet that wouldn’t stop running.
Even on vacation, I was forced to pop into “Travel Agent Mode”, documenting every issue that I found, going over the rest of the room with a fine-toothed comb, and making a special trip to the front desk to report this all to the front desk manager on duty at the time. The fact that the front desk manager chose to make strange excuses rather than offer solutions was even more baffling to me than seeing the condition of the room, honestly.
Needless to say, the incident at this one property has now caused me to re-think my opinion of the entire chain. It’s a shame, because I do like those chocolate chip cookies they give out at check-in. I have a call and an email in to the property now, and am awaiting a response—hence my non-disclosure. I suppose, in the end, my decision to continue to support the chain will depend on the response.
In any case, it just goes to show that even after being in a car for 24 hours, desperately in need of a nap and a shower, and on “vacation”, I’m still on duty. Many of my colleagues do the same. It’s gotten to the point when I wonder if I’ll ever really get to have a true vacation again. I guess time will tell.
Crickett Lancaster is the owner of the home-based agency Go Away! in Brooklyn, NY. She’s an avid knitter, a karaoke fiend, and loves the freedom of being able to work in her pajamas if she so chooses. She occasionally posts travel-related rants and reviews at http://www.crickett.net, and can also be found on Facebook or email.