Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


Sometimes, you're just too tired to think about it.

You roll into your hotel room, roll your suitcase behind you, roll back the sheets and rock yourself to sleep.

Who said business on the road was going to be easy?

You do expect, though, that your hotel will adhere to basic standards.

You might have thought twice about this over the last week, should you have spent a little time on Reddit.

Someone had headlined their post: "Heard something crinkle when I settled in for the night."

What had allegedly made the crinkling noise was a note inserted in the bed.

It read: "If you're reading this, then housekeeping did not change your sheets!"

The note was written on Courtyard by Marriott notepaper, but it's impossible to know whether it's real or, even if it is, whether the note was actually found at a Courtyard by Marriott.

Here's something that was real, however.

In January, I went to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A friend of mine was staying at the same hotel as I was. 

However when my friend checked in, he noticed a certain stain on his sheets.

This stain was brown, but it wasn't chocolate. This stain was brown, but it wasn't nail varnish. This stain was brown and, by now, I think you're quite clear what it actually was.

Of course, any hotel can make mistakes. Any member of housekeeping can have a stressful, annoying day.

What was fascinating in this instance was the reaction of the hotel.

When my friend complained, they offered him $25 discount from his resort fee.

When he complained a little more, he was offered a $50 discount fee.

Indeed, when he personally went to the front desk, the hotel staff member consulted a manual that seemed to tell her what she could and couldn't offer.

Not once did these staff members look aghast and say: "What kind of stain did you say? That's terrible. We're mortified. Please stay here on us all week."

It took him four complaints to ever more elevated members of staff -- and some highly imaginative language -- to finally get the hotel to agree to one night's stay discounted.

This was not a cheap hotel. But its reaction makes you wonder whether the members of staff found the stain not in the least surprising.

You might mutter that this was Vegas, so why be surprised?

But the notion that the Reddit post might carry a certain truth and that cleaning is one area where hotels are saving money is both tempting and perturbing.

There's little doubt that hotels are desperate to succeed in the same way that airlines have managed to gouge every last dime from their customers.

Who has not been moved by the Hilton Hotels Group, for example, and its experimentation with cancellation fees?

But some things are basic, aren't they?

Or does the quest for profit mean mean that even the most fundamental expectations are thrown out the window.

If you can open the window, that is.

I mean, have you noticed how many hotels now control the temperature in your room and make sure you can't open the window? 

It saves money, don't you know.