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|| News Item: Posted 2000-03-23

Road Warrior: Hotel or Motel?
By Mongo

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HOME SWEET HOME. (First in a 2 part series)
Maybe you've seen the ads on TV "never underestimate the value of a good night's sleep"? (I can't remember the name of the hotel chain, that's paying for the ad, so there's some bucks down the toilet) or heard the radio commercial "we'll leave a light on for you"? (Motel 6)

It's corporate America wanting to get a piece of your ass, specifically, where you camp your butt at night.

They try to woo you with upgrades to VIP floors, free in room movies, Lazy boy recliner chairs, complementary breakfasts, etc., etc. ... Do I go for the miles or points? Hilton or HoJo?

MONGO is only pawn in game of life on the road, but MONGO wants you to feel right at home when you're in a hotel.

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There are 2 sides to MONGO. "The all expenses paid MONGO" (you work for a humongus multi national corporation or you're billing your clients) or the "Do you offer an AARP discount MONGO?" (You work for yourself or the Associated Press, remember you can't spell cheap without AP.)

"All expenses paid MONGO" likes to stay at Marriott, Hyatt, and Intercontinental hotels. Each of these chains offers the finest in accommodations, like:

- King size beds (lots of room to sprawl)
- 25 inch or larger color TV's (greater viewing area to check out Scully on the "X - Files")
- Bathrobes
- Jacuzzi tubs
- Coffee makers (no more early morning Starbucks hunts)
- 24-hour room service (no more late night Waffle House hunts, after the game)
- Valet parking
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- Concierge services
- Meeting rooms
- Business centers
- 2 line phones
- DATA ports (you don't have to crawl around the floor or move the damm bed)
- Premium soaps and shampoos (just the right size for your toilet kit, filch extras off the maids cart)
- Work desks
- Ergonomic chairs
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- FAX machines
- Check cashing privileges
- Bed turn down service with little chocolates

This all comes at a price of course, in the neighborhood of $100.00 to $250.00 per night.


Man that's gotta hurt...even if somebody else is paying for it. If you're gonna get a guilt complex over this, there is a way to save some money.

Start reading the Sunday paper's TRAVEL section!

The major chains are always running promotional specials. Marriott for example charges $169.00 a night for the Denver Marriott City Center. BUT if you're staying over on a weekend (gee aren't most games on the weekend?) ask for the Breakfast and Break Free rate and it drops down $79.00 a night, plus you get, guess what, a FREE breakfast. Not some wimpy rolls and juice mind you, but a real meat and eggs kind of breakfast. (Go for the buffet, then you can just PILE on entire slabs of bacon, hummmmm bacon.)

Hyatt, Sheraton, Westin, Hilton, all run similar promotions. The trick is knowing what "promotion" to ask for.

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Everybody knows the trick about asking for the "Corporate" rate. I'll let you in on a little secret. EVERYBODY gets the corporate rate! Every Tom, Dick and Harry gets the corporate rate. (Even Canadians working in the U.S. can get the corporate rate.) It's all just marketing hype calculated to make you feel like you're a big shot businessperson.

If you want the real deal, you have to do some homework. All the major chains have special pre negotiated rates with major corporations and local businesses. These rates are usually 50% to 75% off the regular price. In order to get this rate, you usually have to supply a "rate code" or a "corporate ID discount number" Huh? I don't have one of those. Hey that's what friends are for. Ask your buddies who work for those major corporations or local businesses for their numbers. If they really are your friends, they'll tell you, if not, then screw 'em and get new friends.

Another tactic is to identify all the major businesses in a 5-mile radius of the hotel you want to stay at, then call the LOCAL number of the hotel and ask for reservations. Tell them you're a new sales rep for the company and you're coming in for orientation. If they ask you for your "corporate ID discount number" (highly unlikely) remind them that you're new and that's why you're coming in for orientation.

If you've got BIG balls, try this trick. When you get to the hotel, check the daily activity list. You know the one that lists all the meetings and social functions (like weddings). It's usually on a TV monitor in the lobby posted near the ballrooms or meeting rooms. Then go to the front desk and check in under that group name. Voila! You get the group discount.


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Hotels learned early on that the Airlines had a pretty good thing going with their frequent flyer awards programs. Nearly every chain has some sort of guest loyalty program. Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors, Hyatt Gold Passport, and on and on. The basic premise is the same. For every dollar you spend or every night you stay, you earn points or miles depending on the program you enroll in. These programs also have different levels of membership based on how many nights you stay or points you earn a year. The perks can be quite substantial.

Lets look at the Marriott Rewards program for example.

If you stay 50 nights at a full service Marriott a year, you qualify for a BLACK card, which gives you an automatic upgrade to the Concierge floor. It's a nice place to retreat to. No screaming kids running up and down the hall. A private clubroom you can relax in and have a drink, without some tourist in an ugly aloha shirt going nuts over the tiny little umbrellas in the drinks.

You get LATE checkout privileges, so if you went to the naked bars till 4:00am after shooting the game, you can sleep in.

Check cashing privileges to $500.00 per day. No more ATM fees!


In most programs you must choose one or the other. MONGO likes earning points towards free hotel nights because MONGO already earns more miles flying than MONGO can ever hope to use. If you are like most road warriors, you probably fall into this category as well. An additional benefit is that most points programs will also let you redeem awards for cruises, rental cars, and even hard goods, like TV's, computers, CD players, etc.

Next month in part 2, we'll discuss the budget minded MONGO and motels.

(Mongo is a retired Hollywood gaffer who has worked on numerous films including "Revenge of the Nerds", "Porky's" (1-8), "Pokemon The Movie", "Revenge of the 50-Foot Woman" and "Blazing Saddles". Currently he works as the "travel consultant to the stars" in Southern California.)

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