Motel Mania

By John Hanks, DC
September and October appear to have become the seminar and convention season. This year, I was gone five weekends during these months. Why? Sometimes, I don't rightly know myself, but we all have our reasons.

For example, new chiropractors in practice for less than two years are big fans of seminars on treatment techniques. That is their focus. But between the second and fourth year of practice, the focus becomes practice management seminars. That makes sense. Then, from four years in practice to about 15 years, educational seminars on documentation, research, or current clinical studies become more attractive. From 15 years onward, doctors stop going to seminars - until they have been in practice for about 40 years. Then, they start going to technique seminars again to find out what they have been doing wrong all those years.

The weekend, out-of-town seminar is one of the ultimate fruits of any doctor's labor. That's because it costs money, and the willingness to spend it. Add up the costs of registration, hotel, airfare, a rental car and meals, and the total costs can make one highly motivated to find the cheapest means to attend. And if the fruits of practice labor aren't ripe enough for travel, there is always the annual state association convention at home.

As I write this, I am staying in a quaint, old hotel in California that boasts a vintage elevator. In 1914, it was said to be the "fastest elevator west of the Mississippi." It still has the folding cage gate prominent in old freight elevators. So naturally, I take the stairs. It is quaint, funky, quasi-historic and cheap. Cheap is the reason I'm here.

The room is small. If I slide along sideways between the bed and the walls, I can finally reach the air conditioner propped up on 2 x 4's in the closet. When lying in bed, I can reach out far enough to turn on the bathroom sink. The room can accommodate two adults, but if another person wants to come in, somebody will have to step out in the hall first. Yet, this sacrifice in accommodations will be worth it, since tomorrow, it will give me extra money to spend at the seminar on some new gadget, perhaps one with pulsing, magnetic-laser-EMG capacities, which I will probably use for about a month, then store away and forget.

When I read the brochure that comes with a seminar, convention, symposium or workshop I want to attend, there is always the paragraph that says the event hotel is offering a "special rate" for attendees, and asks you to sign up now, since "the block of reserved rooms" may go quickly. But why should I pay the reduced rate of $189, when some e-commerce site lets me bid for it at half the price? (Just because I can never pull off a winner at those sites doesn't mean you can't!)

The best hotels associated with the seminars usually have "additional expense" stuff, like a mini-bar, a big bottle of mineral water costing $4.50, or Internet access. (By now, we all know not to touch the actual room phone.) But every time I stay in one of these hotels, I expect some new gimmick - like a sign over the toilet that reads, "As a courtesy to our guests, there is no charge for the first flush. All additional flushes will be charged to your room at the nominal charge of $1.00."

Trying to find less expensive lodging can be unwise. I once checked into a "modest" motel in New Mexico; the office was the family's living room, which also served as a liquor store. As I filled in the required information card while standing at the kitchen counter, a small terrier kept exhibiting his affection for my leg.

Then there is the San Francisco seminar story. I would rather take a bamboo cane beating than try to find an affordable room there. But my talented wife got "online" and pulled up a picture of a quaint and funky hotel on Ellis Street, for about $80, plus tax. As it turned out, I arrived on a shuttle about midnight and went straight to bed in my small but tidy room, not really paying attention to the surrounding neighborhood. At 6 a.m., I started out the door to Market Street, where the seminar hotel was located.

At that hour, my 20-minute walk was like a scene out of a Fellini movie. I still remember looking around, thinking maybe someone was filming me. I had to step over a couple of sleeping drunks on the sidewalk, was panhandled twice, propositioned by a hooker and screamed at by a schizophrenic transvestite. It became obvious why the hotel price was so good!

Nonetheless, I'm not giving up the hunt for the Best Hotel Deal of a Lifetime. It's just that it may not occur in this lifetime.

John Hanks, DC
Denver, Colorado

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