Just in Time; a manufacturing buzzword phrase from the 1980s reminds me of travel these days. The advent of smart phones and communications eliminate much of the friction of getting from one place to another. With GPS and integrated mapping on a smart phone, one does not even need paper to navigate his way around a strange locale.
So, the night before heading out to the IP Possibilities conference in St. Louis, I decided it was time to make my hotel accommodations. Being naturally parsimonious and given that I would see my room for all of six or seven hours, I carefully calculated the price versus distance equation and, using Google Maps and its search feature, found a hotel approximately three blocks from the conference center. I couldn’t and, in retrospect, shouldn’t have believed my good fortune that I would find a room for $56 in an upscale neighborhood; Internet was included, so I was a happy camper.
Departing the airport, I shunned the taxi and opting instead for public transportation in the form of light rail. My smartphone gave step by step directions from the light rail train station to my destination and the walk in the early evening air was quite pleasant.
The neighborhood was lovely and I figured the motel must be a converted apartment because of the residential nature of the locale. Then, my smartphone told me I had passed my destination. Totally confused, I reverted to something people used to do last century and asked a couple for directions. They were more confused than I was, as they said there was no La Quinta Inn & Suites nearby.
I took another look at the map on my phone and, although it showed a hotel at 318 Taylor Avenue (along with its website and phone number), I found another La Quinta Inn & Suites at another address identified as 318 Taylor Road in Hazelwood, MO; a suburb of St. Louis; the real La Quinta Inn & Suites was in a neighborhood one would expect for $56. A $45 cab ride later and I was enjoying the bundled internet of this rather remote La Quinta inn & Suites.
It was a bit painful when I figured out that I spent more on cabs, than I did my accommodations and that I could have spent the same total amount and stayed with the rest of my tradeshow colleagues had I just not attempted to be so frugal. Oh well, at least I got a priceless story and I learned a valuable lesson about being a bit more weary of what I read on crowd-sourced web sites. Oh, and as shown in this picture, I did change the description on the Google map to "apartment," so someone else won't make my penny-wise, pond-foolish decision.