Thinking Differently About Business Travel: Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals

Me Proud To Have My Very Own Parking Spot for Lifetime TV Shoot, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, October 2011

Traveling for business can sometimes mean corporate credit cards, fancy meals that get expensed and a brief escape to an amenities-filled hotel. But, more often, at least for me, it means cookie-cutter rooms, lackluster housekeeping and and the feeling that I’m on a treadmill just going through the motions for a few days until I can finally get back to the comfort of your own home. (Let alone all the time I miss out on with the Littles and Hubs)

Now, more than ever, people work independently or for smaller boutique and start-up companies who can’t afford luxe business travel for their employees. And even for the millions still working at big corporations, my friends all tell me that their travel accounts have seen major cutbacks over the years! Shutter the thought for those friends of mine who live out of a suitcase for their jobs.

The reason I’m talking about this is because I’ve done more business travel than usual this year and I started thinking about the places I’ve gone and where I’ve stayed .

Here’s what I discovered; there is a time and place for many different types of accommodations and experiences while traveling in general, but I’ve realized this is even true for business travel.

I also found out that sometimes business travel can actually mean eating in, sitting on a back patio and waking up to the smell of your own favorite brand of coffee brewing in your own kitchen.  All this and on a budget too- it’s true.

October’s TV Shoot in Ft. Lauderdale, FL 

In October, I was traveling to shot a TV segment for Lifetime TV’s “The Balancing Act”

I was also going to be very near a close friend of mine who I rarely get to see. Then there was the TV prep I would need to do the day before including lots of primping (of course).

Putting all of this into consideration, I chose a reasonably priced hotel located somewhere between my friend and work. I was traveling alone and I knew I wouldn’t have anyone to mingle or meet up with once I got back to the hotel every night. I decided I needed to have Internet, hairdryer, iron and ironing board and at least one on-site restaurant.

March: Business Meetings in Austin, TX

Me at a Bar in Austin, TX. Hard Hat Required In Most Bars There 🙂 Yes, This Was a Work Meeting

Come March, I was headed down to the heart of Austin for an exciting business trip that would be full of meetings and long days. I knew I wanted somewhere cozy to rest my head at night after amazing, but tough work hours and everyone I knoew told me that SoCo (that’s Austin speak for South of Congress St.) was the neighborhood to be in.  Since I was going to be there for a while, I thought a home or vacation rental would fit the bill.

I didn’t want to miss out on the local flavor in a place like Austin, so I checked out options on HomeAway.com and found an amazing little duplex home. Each side has been gut renovated into 2 charming “rental” options for both short and long terms. One side of the duplex was available for the dates I needed and the price was about $150/night. Much cheaper than any downtown hotel would have been.

I was a little nervous at first because I had never done a rental before and assumed that it meant I had to stay in someone else’s home or apartment while they were away.

This is not at all the case. Most of these places, I learned through research, are set up specifically for rental. That way I got the privacy of a hotel with out the cost, plus all the benefits of a home: kitchen, laundry, the place I stayed even had an attached carport and grassy back yard.

It was so great, that next time I go back to Austin, I’ll most likely book the same place again. It felt like a place I could call home for a few days of work.

The owner left me a folder so I could get my bearings including a map, restaurant menus, grocery locations and more.

For long-term business travel, or even for business travel in certain parts of the country, I would definitely explore a home rental option.

May: Mom 2.0 Conference Speaker Key Biscayne, FL 

Blogging From the Pool at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, FL for Mom 2.0 Summit May 2012

Ok, so a really great conference where constant networking, panels and keynote speakers followed by event after event after event may just require you to stay at a really fab hotel for a few grueling nights. Its tough work, but someone has to do it.

Just last week I had the honor and pleasure of joining the most amazing women and marketing and media people I can emagine at Mom 2.0 Summit. As luck had it,  it was hosted at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, FL. That’s way down at the tip of Florida, like where the water is crystal clear. And its the Ritz-Carlton which pretty much sums it up.

Because the conference is so great and so large and has such fabulous sponsors like Honda, LG Electronics, Aldi Foods, Hallmark and more, the Ritz offered a block of rooms to particpants at too-good-to-pass-up prices, making a stay at the Ritz much more of an affordable option for most of us.

Besides, no one can miss out on all the activivites and schmoozing that takes place at a big conference like this – so my best be really truly was- to stay at THE RITZ.

And, it was lovely. There was a lot of work done (see photo) but a lot of fun had too (see same photo  )

 

Conclusion: 

Adorable Vacation Rental in March, 2012 Austin, TX Pictures Don’t Even Do it Justice

My ultimate advice when it comes to planning business travel is to save money where you can because in the end, that’s a win for everyone- even you AND mostly, try to squeeze in something fun while you’re away so you can come home at least a little enlivened by this exciting world we live in and the fact that you just got a chance to see it through fresh eyes.

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