I have to share a hotel room with my boss on an international trip

A reader writes:

I took a new position (event planner) earlier this year and relocated from across the country. During my interview, my boss mentioned we had one international event for 2016. No big deal. Now, she has booked a second international event and is on track to book a third in 2016. Planning an international event is incredibly challenging and time consuming. I also wasn’t aware I would be traveling this much for work and traveling outside of my comfort zone. I moved here to work here – not in Europe.

My issue is that my boss told me we would be sharing a room internationally for five days in February to do a wedding. I find this totally inappropriate and invasive of my privacy and space. If I am being required to travel internationally for work, I should at least have private accommodations. I am an adult – there isn’t a reason I need to sleep in a room with another adult, especially when the client is paying for our accommodations. When I expressed concern, my boss said, “Well, sister, it isn’t up to you.” The client signs a contract stating they will cover those costs….. and these are high-end events with very large budgets.

I’m concerned about traveling and now concerned that every time we travel we will be sleeping together and I am feeling helpless. I want to have an adult conversation about this by also not come off as demanding. Please help.

So, there are some industries where adults share rooms on business travel — academia and some nonprofits, for example. There are other fields where it would be totally unheard of and ridiculous. I don’t know which is true for event planning, but I’d guess it’s not typical. (Any event planners want to confirm that?)

I’d say this: “As you probably gathered, I was surprised to learn that we’d be sharing a room in Europe, and I want to make sure that my expectations are in sync with reality going forward! Is this typically how we’ll do rooms when we travel, or is this an unusual circumstance?” It’s possible that you’ll hear that this one is unusual for some reason (maybe the wedding is already over-budget, or who knows what). Or you might hear that yes, this is how it will always be.

If the latter, then you can decide if it’s a deal-breaker for you, or something you’re willing to deal with even though you don’t like it.

While you’re at it, do you want to get more clarity on the international travel aspect of the job too? It doesn’t sound to me like she misled you about that (saying in your interview that she had one international event for 2016 isn’t the same as saying “and that’s the only international event I expect to book”). But if it’s really out of sync with what you want to be doing, it would be good to find out now how much international work you can expect to be doing, so you can decide if you’re up for that or not.

And last … Totally aside from the issue of sleeping arrangements, what’s up with your boss’s dismissive and kind of rude response when you raised the accommodations issue earlier? If that was a one-off, then fine — but if it’s typical of how she talks to you, that would concern me.

{ 180 comments… read them below }

  1. Not a Real Giraffe*

    Ugh, OP, I feel for you. I’m an event planner and often travel for my events. The last thing I’d want after a 12+ hour day is to go back to my hotel room…and see my boss there. I’d feel like I’d still have to be “on” and wouldn’t get any real relaxation time. FWIW, I’ve never encountered sharing a room with anyone, much less my boss, while on location for an event — and that spans academic, non-profit, and corporate sectors.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      +10 I would also find the dynamics so awkward – negotiating when the bathroom is free, when to turn out the lights, turn on/off the TV etc.

      1. Marcy Marketer*

        UGH couldn’t agree more! After sharing a hotel room with my good friend & her husband at a wedding (they were looking to save money) , I now refuse all attempts to rope me into sharing a hotel room. The TV was on all night, her husband took a midnight shower, and they talked well into the wee hours of the morning in normal voices.

        Can’t imagine working for a full week after sharing a hotel room with someone who kept me up all night, and with the power imbalance, there’s really no way to clamp down on those issues if your boss ends up being loud.

      2. Chris*

        I shared rooms with an acquaintance while traveling for a month in Europe (we became close friends later, but at that point didn’t know each other well). Going to the bathroom in a hostel when a near stranger (of the opposite sex) is on the other side of a paper-thin room divider.

        Now imagine that it’s also your BOSS. No thank you.

    2. AVP*

      I’ve heard of it, particularly if the junior person is very new and wasn’t budgeted for in the scope of the project but the boss thinks it would be a good experience or that the person would be helpful to have around. I don’t think it’s common, but I’ve never worked on a wedding so that might be a different industry perspective.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I work on events, but not the planning side.

      I have had to share a room with a colleague once — we were in Monaco and there was limited (not to mention very expensive) capacity.

      I have been booked to share a room with a project manager a few times and she opted to pay and get a private room for herself a few times. The one time we did share, it was a suite with two bedrooms with ensuite baths, living room, kitchen so we had our own private areas.

      Oh, and once I wasn’t booked a room, but it was too late for me to drive the one-hour home, so I crashed in the room with the 2 other people who were running it — they were sharing a room. (actually, that happened another place where we were so busy I couldn’t check into my room as it was off property and so I shared a room with 2 other people for 2 nights. Yes, we were that busy. It was insane.)

      So I would say that it may be that this was what the budget allowed. It may be that the owner in this case (as other people noted below) is trying to keep some of the money for lodgings because she’s cheap. It may be that there are no other rooms available in the hotel and it is situated in a place where it is the only hotel nearby. It may be that there have been difficulties on the project that have eroded the budget to the point that this is necessary because the client will not agree to increase their budget. It may be that the margins she is allowed to charge are not great. However, the manner in which she said it wasn’t possible wasn’t exactly the greatest. I cannot believe that she is looking forward to rooming with her employee either — unless she is some kind of control freak who wants to make sure that her employee is constantly in her eyesight. This could be the thin edge of the wedge on that.

      1. snuck*

        I would be wondering if this was such a huge mega event whether there might be limited rooms available… they might be allocated a single room simply because every other room is booked up for the guests and rest of the entourage.

        I’m with Allison… just ask “Hey lovely boss, this is going to be long five days! Will this happen often? Do you mind letting me know why this happened and is there any chance we can change this around – I’m going to need to unwind and ring my pet goldfish and have space to just relax and that’s hard in a shared room!” and see what she says.

        As for the multiple international events… again I’d just ask… “I know before this job you only had one international job booked, but it looks like you book many, can you give me an idea how often this might happen so I can plan some stuff for my family?” and that way you aren’t giving her a side eye about it being good or bad… it sounds like you are cooperating, and what you decide after is up to you.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, it’s really weird and uncomfortable unless she booked a multi-room suite or something (and even then it’s still kind of awkward).

  2. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Your boss sounds like she’s trying to save the client some money at your personal expense and comfort.  That’s BS, especially when you consider that the fee for a private room is probably a drop in the bucket. This clearly isn’t about money, but please correct me if I’m wrong here.

    Plus your boss is rude.  Is this how she always is?

    In situations like this — where heaps of money are already being spent and the person in charge is huffing over a minor expense that ultimately makes no real savings — my experience tells me there’s a petty power play with maybe some unaddressed issues.  Money is the easiest and empirical method to disguise those issues.  (I’m flashing back to my wedding where my parents balked at the cost of my 35 person wedding when they paid three times that for my brother’s with no complaint.)

    Probing her a bit more, but in a non-confrontational way, may help here.  Quite frankly though, if she has hangups, it’s not your problem.  Her reaction plus her rudeness would give me pause.

    1. LizNYC*

      Actually, I was thinking the boss was trying to keep the fee the client is paying for two rooms. Like she charged $5,000 for two rooms, but gets to pocket (through the business) the $2,500 she’s not spending by giving the OP a room.

      Also, she sounds like a jerk.

      1. Jenn*

        This is what I was thinking as well. I hardly doubt the client would think it’s a big deal to pay for an extra room for 5 days after planning such an extravagant affair.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        How would she do that, though? Doesn’t she have to present a paid receipt for the extra room? Or can she just say there was an extra room with no documentation? In all the client billing I’ve ever done (which is admittedly little), the client would only pay expenses for which there was a paid invoice.

        1. Jerzy*

          Different contracts spell out different billing requirements. For my company, all expenses must be accompanied with a receipt in order to be reimbursed, but I know others just say, “We’ll pay $X for accommodations.”

          My first thought was definitely that the boss is trying to keep the extra money that would otherwise go towards OP’s own room.

        2. Christian Troy*

          My understanding is that with most events you have to put put down a deposit of some kind, and in some cases payout in thirds (deposit, half way and post event). This is to protect planners in case the event cancels last minute and protect themselves. Not sure if the OP knows how these contracts are drawn up or what was spelled out.

        3. AVP*

          FWIW I’ve only rarely had to turn in reporting to that degree. It happens sometimes for major corporate clients, but almost never if it’s an individual or family paying the bill, which it sounds like might be the case here.

        4. Anonsie*

          Probably not. At least, in my admittedly limited experience, with this type of arrangement they give the client a budget to approve beforehand rather than charging for expenses as they’re used and documenting them. So up front their contract said $x for travel would be charged, and that’s not contingent on what’s actually spent.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ah, that makes sense. I’m with everyone else who believes that the boss wanted to pocket the money for the extra room; I just couldn’t figure out how she would do it when there would be no receipt for the extra room.

      3. Don't Know*

        This is exactly what I was thinking – boss was going to keep the extra money for herself that would have been used on the extra hotel room.

        1. JessaB*

          I wonder what would happen if the OP happened to say to the client (and you must use an absolutely neutral happy tone something like “the room was lovely. Sharing with boss worked out very well.” and see what happens.

          Of course that has the potential to backfire in the hugest way, but wishful thinking you know?

    2. Laurel Gray*

      I agree with Snarkus here. I feel like the dismissive “well sister, it isn’t up to you” is so telling that there may be other issues about boss and working conditions that will eventually come out. While I do recognize that there are industries where sharing a hotel room is normal, I still believe that a conversation has to be had about the accommodations before they are booked. It is very reasonable to want your own room when working with clients who have large budgets to accommodate something which could be trivial looking at numbers alone.

      1. ted mosby*

        really? It sounded to me like maybe OP got whiny after she first said no. I don’t really know how I would respond if I told my employee we had to do something and her answer was “I don’t want to.” Ok cool story?

        1. OhNo*

          Huh, I disagree. Even if the OP was a bit whiny about it (I probably would be, too), I don’t think the boss’ response was appropriate.

          If I had an employee who came back and said, “I don’t want to”, then my first response would be to explain why wasn’t an option, and make sure that the person understand the reasoning behind the need. If they were still complaining after that point, I might start getting cranky, but the boss definitely skipped a few reasonable steps in there and went straight to acting like a jerk.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          Depends on WHAT the employee says “I don’t want to” to, no?

          I was asked to share a room early in my career (not normal in my field), although thank goodness NOT with my boss, and the way my boss approached it was totally different than this boss is doing. He approached me very apologetically and said that the situation was such that we could not avoid someone having to share a room (booked a bed and breakfast for our team for a conference that drew tens of thousands of attendees; there were no rooms to be had except at airport hotels, and the client asked for an extra person to be added to the list at the last minute); someone else was throwing a fit about being the person to share and would I please consider it? TOTALLY different from “your problem, sister,” and probably the reason I said yes without being upset.

          This boss would have a lot more (read: any) of my sympathy if a) this were a last resort and b) she had some empathy about presenting the request rather than peremptorily making a demand.

        3. neverjaunty*

          Nowhere does the OP say that she told the boss “I don’t want to”. And frankly, even if your employee said that, as the boss you still don’t respond with something wildly unprofessional.

    3. AnotherHRPro*

      I agree that the OP’s boss was very rude with her response. That said, I can’t imagine that the boss really wants to share a room either. I would tend to believe the boss that the client is only willing to pay for one room. Which is possible if the original contract was signed before the OP was hired. It is important to find out if this is going to be the norm or if this is an unusual situation.

  3. Sarasaurus*

    Fellow event planner here! I’ve occasionally shared a 2-bedroom suite with a colleague, but it was completely voluntary and served the purpose of allowing us to work together at odd times. Expecting you to share a standard room is pretty ridiculous, especially if the event has a large budget anyway. What’s one extra hotel room? If the client won’t be it (IMO, private lodging for onsite staff should be a requirement in the contract), then your company should.

    As for the international travel…it’s so true that planning huge events is incredibly draining. Being onsite is even more so. It obviously depends on the size and scope of the conference/event, but three a year seems like a lot to me. That’s a LOT of extra hours that you probably weren’t planning on working. If it’s not a deal breaker (and it might be), is there a way for you to get overtime pay?

      1. MA in OH*

        Not in event planning, but I would think it would be 100% reasonable to approach boss and ask about the international events in a manner such as “when I interviewed you indicated that you had one international event booked, and we are now up to X. How many international events do you typically book each year/are you trying to book more?” etc.

  4. 30ish*

    Even in academia you don’t typically share a hotel room with your boss. I’ve been asked to share rooms when I was a PhD student, but that was with other PhD students, and usually only for one or two nights.
    Sharing with a boss seems like such a bad idea, for me it would totally remove the possibility to relax.

    1. the_scientist*

      Plus, my understanding is that at an event, the planners must be absolutely “on” during the entirety of the event, and are typically working really long (like 12 hour) days. So not only are you exhausted and run off your feet, you can’t even relax in your room because you’re sharing with your boss!

    2. Calacademic*

      I’m a postdoc and I’ll be sharing a room for 5 nights with another postdoc. Professors don’t have to share.

      1. Marcela*

        Yes. DH is a postdoc and he has always been asked to share a room when going to conferences or schools, which can last from 2 or 3 days, to full two weeks. But he always share with people at his same level, never with his bosses, who on the other hand don’t share rooms at all.

      2. Laura*

        I’m a prof and I share, but these are arrangements I choose and make myself. It’s a chance to catch up with grad school friends! It helps me stretch my (limited) conference funding farther.

        1. 30ish*

          True, I’ve also seen profs share rooms with each other because they are friends and it’s a reunion. I also quite like to share an apartment with friends when going to a conference. Just wanted to point out that “prof and grad student or postdoc in the same room” is uncommon (although it does seem to happen sometimes, as others commented).

          1. blackcat*

            I (grad student) will be sharing a room with a postdoc AND prof at an upcoming conference… but we all overlapped in grad school and they have moved on to other universities. I’m the baby of the research group. The slumber party will be great for catching up.

    3. limenotapple*

      I have mostly worked in small universities with small budgets but it’s been really common for me to share a room, sometimes with my boss if we were the only two people going. I guess since I’ve always really had great bosses it hasn’t been a problem.

      I would rather jump off a bridge than share a room with my current boss. There is no scenario where I would consider it, but in most of my other jobs it hasn’t been an issue.

    4. Artemesia*

      We arrived at a hotel one time for a consulting gig and were told that there was only one room left (although we had booked two) My boss insisted that the hotel arrange for a second room at a nearby hotel and literally wouldn’t move till it got done. They were trying to get us to share the room since ‘well, that is all we have left, we are just so overbooked.’ I just assumed we were stuck so it was nice to watch someone be firm and successful with making the impossible happen.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I don’t know how it works in the lodging industry, but it often seems that “sold out” doesn’t always mean that they are completely out of rooms. Every time I’ve had a hotel say they were ‘sold out’, they somehow managed to come up with a room when pressed to do so. I don’t know if they have rooms blocked out for other purposes or what.

        1. Anonsie*

          I’ve heard mixed things from people that are career hotel hospitality folks, making me think this varies. Typically I’ve heard that the rooms blocked for other purposes thing is a myth, but I have also absolutely seen what you’re describing and heard from a few people that they do keep a very small number of rooms blocked for, I donno, emergencies?

          1. liza*

            During my brief employment at a chain hotel, we had the manager living on-site in a room and he didn’t like the room next door to be occupied. We could only book it with his permission, when every other room had been filled.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            One hotel relented and let me have a room, for one of our departmental guests, that they just didn’t like to let anyone stay in because it was a tiny renovated room off a conference room. They didn’t even say that was an option until I moaned and groaned about every hotel in town being sold out, and then they reluctantly brought up that room.

            1. Vectriss*

              I work in hotels. If we overbook we will book someone into a nearby hotel and pay their taxi to get there.
              If pushed for a room it means we have to relocate a different guest who hasn’t arrived yet to another nearby hotel.

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I work in the nonprofit sector and very commonly share rooms on work travel… but not when I’m running a conference. That’s just too much.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I had to do it once at a convention for a job, and with my boss, but we had been friends since middle school and had shared a room many times at sleepovers. Anyway, it was a small suite and there was a bed and a pullout, and I got the pullout. It was kind of fun–we ate sandwiches and watched TV for a bit but we were both zonked because the convention was very tiring, so we went to bed fairly early.

      The only other time I did was on a choir tour at college, and we not only had to share rooms, but BEDS. They had us four to a room with two doubles!

  5. TotesMaGoats*

    Interesting story. I was at a conference in DC last month with companies from all over the country. Small conference and exhibit space was pricey for the set up and access and amenities. Anyway, the booth next to me was a MWIB architect firm. The owner was there with two female staff members and 3 interns (2 females and a male). I assume they were in graduate school. I overheard on the last day, and by overheard I mean she was talking loud enough for the whole row to hear, her giving the interns a “lesson” in professional norms. Evidently they had gotten an AirBnB for the interns for the three nights. Perhaps it was a case of false advertising but there weren’t enough beds. The male took the bed and the two female used a pull out couch and blow up bed in the living room area. So, not ideal sleeping arrangements.

    Evidently, the female interns had complained to the owner that the male had taken the bed. The owner decided that socratic method was the way to approach this issue. I’ve never heard three more confused people in my life. To sum up though, the owner basically told the guy that he should’ve evaluated the situation and given the bed to the girls to share. (At this point, I’m listening really carefully because I’m super nosy.)

    I wanted to turn around and say A) just because you are the guy doesn’t mean you have to sleep on the tiny couch or blow up bed (he was a very tall guy) B)just because you are girls doesn’t mean that you can be expected to share a bed with someone and be okay with it C)while being interns means that you often get the short end of the stick, it doesn’t mean that you had to accept that particular situation and not fight for the bed

    And to the owner, I get it what you were trying to do but your interns didn’t get it at all. They seriously did not understand what you were saying or trying to teach them. Next time spell out what the situation is and clearly say your expectations. I don’t think any of them learned from that experience except that you were cheap.

    1. Lizzy May*

      I hate the socratic method outside of lecture halls. I had a boss who used to love turning just about every discussion into a quiz with question after question. It is faster and far less frustrating to just be direct and state what you want or need and then hold someone accountable to respond appropriately then go through a game of 20 questions to see if you can get your employee to go tackle the filing or prioritize boring task A over fun task B because A is more important.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        I will admit to using the socratic method, but I’m a tutor working with students and they do tend to remember better if they can make the connections and understand the rationale better than just saying, “Here’s a rule, do this.”

        I can’t imagine using it with (presumably) competent adults. It’s a learning tool, not a lifestyle.

        1. Penelope Pitstop*

          “It’s a learning tool, not a lifestyle” made me laugh while sipping. While completely undignified with liquid running down my chin and onto my shirt, it was so worth the unexpected laugh. Thank you.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            “It’s a learning tool, not a lifestyle”

            Ha. Tell that to all the professors I work with as an admin.

      2. the gold digger*

        I had a boss who would do this! I finally got so ticked off that I said, “I am not a stupid person. You are my last resort. Before I come to you, I do my research and try to find the answer any other way I can. If I ask you a question, it is because I truly do not know the answer. Would you please just tell me what it is?”

        A few months later, I quit. It wasn’t just the boss – the radio and the announcement I should cold-call the 6,000 companies on his list to sell them training that can cost $50,000 (“Shall I sign you up for two?”) also contributed.

      3. FD*

        There are cases where it can be appropriate. For example, with less confident employees who know what they think they should do, but feel like they need permission, it can be helpful to ask, “What do you think we should do?”

        But in that technique, it’s also important to recognize when it’s not appropriate.

    2. INTP*

      I am normally up for pontification or debate but I am literally LOLing at the Socratic Method here. As far as I’m concerned, obtaining satisfactory sleeping quarters is a “self preservation is the highest law” situation and no time for philosophy. I wouldn’t be interested in thinking about what was right or ethical or possible, just “What do I say to these people that will get me the best situation?” Even to people who are less Machiavellian than me about obtaining quality sleep, I feel like encouraging them to think about it more deeply would just lead them to be angrier at each other. Nothing good can come from ruminating on a situation you’re already pissed about when you’re sleep deprived.

    3. Bea W*

      I can totally picture the interns having worked this out amongst themselves where the women verbally agreed to let the man have the bed because they were being “polite” but resenting it and complaining, unless the guy was totally self absorbed and just set up there without discussing with his co-workers which would be rude regardless of gender.

    4. Arjay*

      My example was a personal situation, not a professional one. Before I got married, my fiancé and I had to attend an “engagement encounter” weekend. We were randomly assigned same-sex roommates at the retreat center. When I got to the room, there was a queen size bed like at a hotel, and then a single bed/cot type thing tucked into the corner. I didn’t want to have to try to negotiate, so I just took the single. It had a good mattress, so it was better than an average cot, but not so nice as a regular bed. All the rooms were like that, and it just seemed so weird that we were paying for equal accommodations, but not really receiving equal accommodations. And it kinda made me feel like a little kid? I mentioned it in the feedback I provided; it just didn’t get me off to a good start. It was the strangest situation to put two adult strangers into for a weekend. (Also, my roommate snored.)

    5. ReanaZ*

      Oh, man! I had this exact situation once–traveling for work with two people of the opposite gender (one of whom was my boss) who booked an airbnb place with 1 bed in a semi-private room (no door at all or even a curtain to the kitchen, but door to the living room), with an air-mattress and a pull-out bed. Except this wasn’t a mistake, they knew this was the situation and just didn’t tell me until after we got there. Plus I wasn’t even an intern–I was 3-4 years into my professional career at this point.

      I work in a male-dominated industry (IT), and I don’t play the gender card very often, but you can bet immediately upon realising the situation (which again, they had not told me about ahead of time!) was all, “I AM A WOMAN TRAVELING ALONE WITH TWO MEN I DON’T KNOW WELL I WILL BE TAKING THE ROOM WITH THE BED AND SOME VAGUE AMOUNT OF PRIVACY THIS IS NOT A DEBATE GOOD-BYE.”

      If they had been honest about the situation upfront, we could have made other arrangements but at this point, it was too late and all accomodation in the area had been booked for weeks. I felt a bit deceived, and the office manager was outraged on my behalf when I told her when we got back into town. (They booked this on their own outside of proper company channels.) Oh, also, they decided to hang all their things in the closet in the room and would just come in while I was sleeping. NOT OKAY.

      I work in nonprofts and don’t mind sharing a room generally, but this was outrageous. If room sharing has to happen, I feel strongly it should be single-gender unless it’s people who know each other very well and deliberately select a coworker friend of opposite gender completely by choice.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m with you on the bed thing. I could not do my work properly the next day if I had to sleep on an air mattress on the floor. Gawd. I’m not a teenager and I need a proper bed.

  6. AnotherAlison*

    I wonder if there were any issues with the hotel being booked up. We hosted a recent event for clients, and our block of rooms got booked up, and the rest of the hotel sold out. More last-minute clients signed up, so they ended up moving some of our people who weren’t critical to the operation of the event off site. For the event planner, moving off site wouldn’t really be an option, though, so if there was a room shortage, doubling up makes some sense.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Yeah, I can see this happening. I worked in a hotel many moons ago and this city has major conferences going on all year. But the “well sister” comment from the boss is so reality tv level snarky it has me wondering “what would a real housewife do”?

      1. LQ*

        I feel like this would be a little on the light side for reality tv, this boss would clearly be the level headed one on the show who occasionally had a dramatic moment but was usually the “good” one. So OP if you are in a reality tv show you may have lucked out!

    2. Sarasaurus*

      That crossed my mind too, but then the boss should have just politely explained the situation to OP.

    3. jhhj*

      In which case the boss could have said “Unfortunately, the hotel is booked up and as we both need to be staying on-site, we need to share the only available room” instead of “Well sister, it isn’t up to you”, and this question would never have reached Alison because most people would understand that explanation.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, it’s kind of hard to give the boss the benefit of the doubt with the response she gave. If there’s a legit reason, she could have given the legit reason.

    4. INTP*

      That could happen, but I feel like the boss probably would have said something to the OP if it were the case. If you recognize that expecting a subordinate to share a room with you is not normally reasonable but you are forced to due to circumstances, when they ask about it, you tell them why, recognizing that it’s a reasonable thing for them to be taken aback by, not “Well it’s not up to you, sister.”

    5. neverjaunty*

      Which makes it actually worse, no? Because then on top of being a jerk, the boss is being a jerk instead of explaining the problem.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t disagree with the comments that *IF* this was the case, the boss should have/would have just said so.

      But. . .I can see it being what I call a Pop Tart moment, which is when one of my kids has annoyed the crap out of me in the morning with his diva behavior and we get to the point where I yell, “Just shut up and eat the f*^#*$) Pop Tart.” You know, because I don’t want to explain one more thing after you’ve asked why we don’t have any more Lucky Charms, and I explained Dad ate them, and you asked why he ate them all, and I said he’s a pig, and you bitched that I should have bought more, and so on.

      Not that the OP is a diva, or that anything from the letter indicated that she had already questioned the boss on multiple things, but just saying that sometimes there are reasons a proper explanation is not provided. ; )

      1. Hermione*

        I love the idea of calling a pop tart moment. It brings up an image of a sort of pop tart-gingerbread mom hybrid jumping out of the toaster to tell a kid to eat their @#$%! pop tart.

      2. Bea W*

        LOL well you did give them a proper explaination! Dad ate all the Lucky Charms.

        BTW next time they ask why Dad ate all the Lucky Charms, the proper explaination is “They’re magically delicious.”

      3. Elsajeni*

        I can also imagine it being a frustrated comment by a boss who has been trying to negotiate with the client to cover the cost of a second room, and not getting anywhere — “Obviously I don’t want to share a room either, but I’m putting up with it, so you can too.” But even if it was a momentary snap out of frustration, unless the OP wrote this letter within 3 minutes of that conversation, the fact that she doesn’t mention “… and then she came back, apologized for being so snippy, and explained why we’d have to share” doesn’t bode well.

        1. nonegiven*

          I would make the boss so uncomfortable in the room, every minute, that she would rather sleep in the lobby.

      4. neverjaunty*

        And if one of those reasons is that boss sees the OP as a whining small children demanding Pop-Tarts, then there’s a bigger problem, no?

  7. JMegan*

    Ooh, yes – I’d be more concerned about the way she spoke to you, than about the fact of the room sharing. I would disagree with Alison and say that the “sister” comment was not just a bit rude, but extremely rude. It could be appropriate between peers, who have a long standing and mutually affectionate relationship, but you don’t have any of those things with your boss. You have only known each other a short time, and you’re obviously not peers. I just can’t see any way this in an appropriate thing for a boss to say to someone she is managing.

    Definitely take Alison’s advice about setting expectations both for this trip and going forward, but I would take the boss’ response there as a huge red flag for any future interactions with her.

  8. Lizzy May*

    Wow! I have so many problems with this one.

    First, Alison is spot on about the way your boss responded to you. That’s not only unprofessional, it shows a total lack of respect. Unless you are literally sisters, that sort of flippant response is a red flag. Even as a one-off, that’s the sort of comment that would sour me on someone.

    Second, its bad enough to have to share rooms when you travel, but when its your boss that’s even worse. Time away from having to “be on” is so important and that’s really not a luxury with your boss two feet away. I’d really try to push back or gain a better understanding as to why she thinks this setup is okay. I’d also really push to make sure individual rooms are going to be standard going forward and included in the event costs.

    The only thing I can think of is the contract was signed before you came on board and the costs to your clients already set and she doesn’t want to eat the cost of a second room out of her profits. Not a great reason, but if that’s what’s going on at least it shouldn’t continue to be a problem going forward.

    1. Izzy*

      Could the room have been booked before the letter writer was hired? Perhaps there aren’t any more available now. But still, that dismissive response! Do bosses not realize there are other employers out there who will hire you?

  9. Noah*

    I agree with you 100% and I would not be able to continue working there if it was expected that we would be sharing a room on every trip.

    In my field it is normal in some circumstances for people to share rooms and abnormal in most others. The big one where people share rooms is during initial training and I’m not sure why that’s the standard but it is. For recurrent training and normal travel overnights it is normal to have your own room.

    I also agree with Alison that your boss’ response was dismissive and if that is her normal manner I would be looking for a new job. I realize that is often easier said than done, and is everyone’s answer when the situation at a workplace is sucky. However, your boss is not doing anything illegal and it doesn’t sound like they are open to change.

  10. Ro*

    Fellow event planner here. This sounds ridiculous. Is your event at the same hotel? If so, either your boss or client could negotiate reduced rate staff rooms (plural) in the contract. This sounds like petty penny pinching either by the client or your boss. I’ve seen plenty of obviously well off clients who have no problem dropping stupid amounts of money on things *they* want but will then balk at paying some tiny amount for the “little people” doing the work. A good boss will “bake this in” to their fee if they have to. Sounds like your boss is not advocating for her or her staff to be treated professionally. Could be motivated by desperation for the business, but if so they could at least be sensitive to what they’re asking is outside the norm.

  11. Event Planner*

    Also, a good event planner builds staff rooms into the contract at a lower rate (or sometimes event comp). So the rate would probably be half for a staff room. No reason to share. I’ve only shared for my own events I plan/host and wanted to with my business partner. Definitely not the industry norm.

  12. Not Karen*

    Just want to chime in on my experience on work room-sharing. I’ve only traveled for work once and it was while working for an academic nonprofit. We were given a budget and encouraged to share rooms in order to save money, but by no means required to.

  13. Sunflower*

    I totally feel you OP. I am an event planner and after a long day of work and travel, I’d hate to have to come back to a room with my boss(especially if she’s anything like yours sounds like!). As far as the norms of sharing a room, I’d say similar to what Allison said- it depends on industry. While I’ve never encountered it, I think if you’re in a non-profit or small business it could be more likely. The company I used to work at was for-profit, cheap as hell and did events in 5-star hotels. No one ever had to share a hotel room. My friend works for a non-profit and they share sometimes although I believe they prefer to.

    If you’re working for someone who owns their own business(which it sounds like that’s the case here) then yeah I’d say it’s probably more common you’d have to share since your boss would be shouldering all the extra costs and by sharing a room, she cut the expenses in half. Not saying it’s right but I could see it happening a lot more there.

    Since you might be too far out at this point, is there anyway if she doesn’t want to cover the hotel room that you’d be ok finding an Airbnb for a cheaper price that she would be willing to pay. It’s not ideal but it sounds better than the alternative.

    Mostly I’d echo what Allison said about clarifying the travel expectations. If you decide this isn’t for you, I’d urge you to know what you’re looking for in your next job. Ask upfront how many events and where the events will take place and also where the company is looking to go in the future. Most event planning jobs do require travel so make sure you ask and are comfortable with what they tell you before you accept. A lot of event planning services are small businesses owned by one person. I’ve seen them have to hire an additional person very begrudgingly- they can no longer manage all of the work on their own and even though they don’t want to hire someone, they have to. There’s a hell of a lot of difference between working in corporate for a 1000 person firm and there just being you and one other person so that’s also something to think about.

    1. AVP*

      this is a really good point – I’ve worked for a few small businesses and there have been one or two where the owner took a short-sighted attitude that every “extra” dollar spent was taking money away from them, practically stealing. If that sounds like whats going on here, get out while you can! For some businesses it’s fine to operate that way, but in planning and production, or anywhere there’s travel involved, that can be a nightmare to deal with.

  14. Kaya*

    Wow! I absolutely wouldn’t be happy with this. At my old job, I had to do a couple of conferences which meant staying overnight in London (I’m in the UK). At the time I was on one of the lower rungs in the company, but I still got my own room, as did everyone else. Now, the Christmas party at that company is held on rotation in three UK cities each year, so if it’s not in your city you’re offered a hotel room. Generally these are shared, but this is a non-compulsory event and you can choose who you stay with. Some people who couldn’t bear the idea requested (and were given) rooms of their own.

    I completely understand why the OP isn’t happy about this, and the dismissive attitude of the manager is totally not OK. I’d certainly be more concerned about being spoken to like this than having to share a room, which is weird enough in itself to me.

  15. MK*

    Hm. I am not an event planner, but my knowledge of human nature tells me that it’s not impossible for a person to be willing to spent thousands on flower arrangements for their event, but balk at the extra couple of hundred it would cost to book separate rooms for the event planners. So I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that the budget won’t cover separate rooms for the OP and her boss, or that clients won’t approve budgets with “unnecessary” expenses.

    However, if this was the case, there was no reason for the boss not to say so, and to explain that sharing a room is expected wen traveling for business. I think the real concern here is the rude and dismissive attitude from the boss; also, it seems that the OP needs to find out how frequent business travel will be and decide if she wants the job on those terms.

  16. Mike C.*

    So two things immediately come to mind here –

    1. Am I mistaken or as an event planner, don’t you have leverage that other random employees might not have? If so, have you considered using this in some way?

    2. If I were in your shoes, I would be the worst room mate ever. Not conventionally bad, but creatively bad. This boss is, and I don’t use this phrase lightly, asking for it.

    1. The Wall of reativity*

      So let’s be creative. Someone below mentioned eating refried beans.

      I’m thinking that I’d be first in the shower in the morning and use all the towels. And after knitting a brown jumper, make sure I use up all the bogroll.

      1. alter_ego*

        hahahaha, my first thought when I read Mike’s suggestion was “just fart like, allllllll the time”.

      2. Kassy*

        If you can stomach it, take a page from the receptionist’s book in the post earlier today….annoying political commentator at FULL VOLUME.

      3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        My husband went on a (social) trip with the most inconsiderate people ever. In a suite with seven people sharing one bathroom, one girl took her kindle and took an hour long bath.

        Also, you should turn on the TV loudly while she is still sleeping. And use your laptop to play games or watch movies, but don’t ever wear headphones.

        1. Sarah*

          I had a roommate in college whose M.O. was “open laptop, turn volume up, play Netflix for four hours straight” every night. Weirdly, she didn’t do it if I had nothing in my ears, but the minute I wanted to listen to music while studying or watch TV myself, I’d put in my headphones like a normal, consideration person and she’d decide that the fact I had my headphones in meant it was time to BLARE crappy soapy shows at full volume from her computer’s speakers. To the point where I couldn’t hear my own headphones over the sound of her shows and the girl in the next room could hear it too.

          After one semester, she had the gall to ask the house manager to move me to another room because I was “loud” in the mornings (set multiple alarms so I didn’t miss class). The house manager moved her instead and at least I got a double to myself and didn’t have to deal with her for the second semester, but man, she was obnoxious.

    2. Arbynka*

      “This is great application for Snore Sounds. Snore Sounds is a fun app to surprise your friends! Get the attention you deserve by using this app. With this application you can play several different sounds.”

      Is that creatively bad ? Or just plain bad ? But honestly, having to share a room with someone besides people who are very, very close to me, might turn me plain bad very fast……

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s a start. I was thinking of starting with that little device that randomly beeps every few minutes.

        But honestly, I think threatening to walk would come to mind at first.

      2. Izzy*

        I would not need that app. I snore, even with a CPAP I’m told. (Plus there are the fart noises when the seal breaks on the CPAP mask.) Nobody shares a room with me twice. My dog even gets up and leaves when I put on my jammies.

    3. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

      The one and only time I every had to share a room for business travel was at my first job. My boss was very young and inexperienced and she booked a room for us to share.

      I tried to play it cool as a roommate — I just acted like I would have if I were sharing a room with a friend. This meant that I very casually changed clothes in front of my boss, like it was NBD.

      In hindsight, I realize that this was so not the right thing to do. But it did horrify her sufficiently that she never ever asked me to share a room again!

      1. CM*

        Then it was the right thing to do!
        Embrace your inner nudist, OP. Especially while lounging on boss’s bed.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I once shared a hotel room with a near-stranger (long story), and I changed in the bathroom.

        But, how are you supposed to know what the norm is here? I change in the gym locker room in front of others all the time. We’ve been conditioned since middle school that it’s okay to do that, so I wouldn’t be shocked if a coworker changed into her pajamas in the bedroom.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I shared a train compartment with a stranger when I went to Scotland (Caledonian Express). But we gave each other some privacy to change, etc. Coming back, I had the same compartment but they had double booked, so I got it to myself. :)

          My roommate said she did this commute once a week for work. I can’t even imagine–that’s like 600 miles! But you go to sleep and wake up and you’re there. Our only problem was that the person next door coughed all night and we didn’t get any sleep. Ugh. The walls are like paper. I hope she didn’t fall asleep in a meeting or anything.

  17. Justcourt*

    Do you have access to/have you seen the contract for this event? It seems odd that employer/employee hotel rooms wouldn’t be included in the contract.

    1. OP*

      Wow – so many responses to my question!!! This is amazing.

      I have seen the contract for this event and to all those wondering – the hotel is NOT sold out. There are lots of hotel rooms available. The contract states that client will pay for our accommodation, airfare and food stipend.

  18. Bee Eye LL*

    Here’s the solution – on the first night eat a TON of Mexican food. Load up on lots of onions and refried beans. Then after you stink out the room the boss won’t ever want to share with you again.

    1. Ismis*

      Oh – I did that once (not intentionally!) and my friend only realised at 3am that the windows in the room wouldn’t open….

    2. Bea W*

      I found out by accident that beer and sugary foods like wedding cake when mixed create a lethal biological weapon. Perhaps this is the reason my friend told me to get a cab for my Thanksgiving visit.

  19. Mena*

    Well, Sister, it IS up to you.
    Although absolutely unreasonable to have to do it, I would consider paying for my own room. No you shouldn’t need to be paying out of pocket for this business expense but it will certainly signal your unwillingness to accept the situation.
    Consider having a conversation about business travel in general, especially how frequently travel to Europe is required (occassional one-off trips or is Europe a focused area for growth and travel to Europe is expected to increase?). Then move into your surprise at room sharing. Calmly hear what Boss has to say (sounds like her earlier response was quite defensive); listen to see if she goes down that path. You can then say, “I’m not comfortable sharing a room. I really need my own downtime to regroup when I’m on the road. Can the business split the cost of the second room with me?” Hear what she has to say. If she refuses, I’d calmly say “OK, I’ll have to pick up that expense personally then?” Again, flipping it right back to her. You aren’t giving her the option of forcing you into staying with her; you are firmly telling her that you are not and that you’re surprised and disappointed to be having to pay business expenses personally.
    And you should have to pay yourself but I’d consider it so as to signal that rooming together isn’t acceptable and you’ll not be forced into the practice.
    And I wonder if travel is reimbursed OR if she bid this with a flat fee of travel bundled? If it is reimbursed, it is on the client but if it is flat fee, then 2nd room decreases profit. Hmmm???

    1. fposte*

      That’s what I was thinking–it was a flat fee with travel bundled, and the more the boss scrimps, the greater the profit. So not defrauding the client, but still going overboard.

    2. LL*

      OP should definitely tell her boss that she will be paying for her own room and submitting it to the company for reimbursement. That way, if the boss is pocketing the difference, she will either panic and make new arrangements or will at least have to explain why she didn’t book a room for OP.

      1. Eric*

        Telling the boss that you will be submitting it for reimbursement probably wont get anywhere. I’d presume the boss would just say that it is not an authorized expense and will not be reimbursed.

        1. Izzy*

          +1. Besides the possible financial motive, could it be a control thing also? Being able to say no and mean it would be worth (to me anyway) the price of a room.

  20. F.*

    No advice, but you have my sympathy. I snore like a freight train. I guarantee that after the first night, we would be in separate rooms!

    1. Katiedid*

      See, this is my issue as well. Combine that with my chronic insomnia and I am about the worst roommate ever!! I don’t even like being in a room *next door* to my boss when we travel, let alone in the same room (yes, I really can be that loud if the walls are thin)!

      1. F.*

        OT, but I come by my snoring honestly, all of the women up my mother’s side of the family tree snore loudly. My great-grandmother was well known in her small town for her loud snoring, which could be heard all over town on warm summer nights when she had the windows open.

  21. Foster Friend*

    This story reminds of a situation I had at a long ago job. I was traveling for an event with a client, and the client asked if I would share a room with her, her teenage daughter, and teenage daughter’s friend. The client was notoriously cheap, and they were looking for ways to reduce the cost. I went to my boss about this and he said it was completely unacceptable. Luckily, I had a close friend who lived in the city we were traveling to, so I opted to stay with her.

  22. Chris*

    At my workplace, it is expected that we will share rooms when travelling. Yes, it can suck, but it’s our practice right now, so everyone deals with it. When I can swing it, I book a single room and pay 1/2 the expense personally. Fortunately, I don’t travel too much, so that isn’t a huge hardship. Before I get annoyed with the boss for being dismissive, I’d be interested to know how the OP approached the conversation. Frankly, suggesting that room sharing is an inappropriate invasion of privacy seems extreme. But, again, I work in an industry where sharing is the norm.

    1. Sunny With a Chance of Showers*

      To many people, room sharing with a coworker IS an inappropriate invasion of privacy. One’s personal habits are out there and on display — and there’ no escaping, for instance, a snorer or worse. Bathroom sharing is also an issue. It would be a complete deal-breaker for me.

      1. Myrin*

        Ugh, yes. I make horrible noises while asleep. I’ve been doing it since birth and it’s not disruptive to myself (in fact, it actually seems to be a mechanism to calm myself down) but boy. Every single person who’s ever slept even close to me has complained about it and would rather not sleep in the same part of the country as me. I’d be mortified to even have to mention it (although I’d surely have to if someone ever tried to room me with someone else), much less have my boss (or any random coworker, really) experience it.

      2. Izzy*

        Not only personal habits but medical conditions. I’m a little self conscious about room sharing because I use a CPAP and check my blood glucose (I’m diabetic). Not to mention leaving my teeth soaking in the bathroom. But those are minor. (Still not my boss’ business.) I can think of other bigger issues and conditions that are private but would be evident to a room mate.

        1. Anonsie*

          Right? Someone sharing a room with me is going to get a much better picture of my illness than someone who sees me at work when I have my “I’m totally healthy and awake” face on. I keep a lid on that sht professionally for a reason.

    2. Mike C.*

      Frankly, suggesting that room sharing is an inappropriate invasion of privacy seems extreme.

      It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, you cannot be “on” at all times unless we’re talking about surgeons or emergency response folks. You need down time. You need time to groom and dress and sleep and bathe and all those things that normal human beings do and to expect people to do that all in the presence of not only strangers, but folks who are in charge of you is frankly batshit crazy.

    3. INTP*

      If sharing in the industry is the norm due to financial constraints, then that’s fair. But it DOES result in invasions of privacy, from time to time. If you have a medical issue that you have to tend to in the morning or evening, then your boss is right there watching, or if you have something that you can’t hide in close quarters, like IBS or sleep apnea, your boss sees it. Your option to keep that information to yourself has been taken away from you. Same thing if you have a family situation that you must deal with on the phone at night (depending on the hotel, there may be no private place to have the conversation out of the room). Even basic physical privacy can be difficult. In a standard hotel room, you’re either getting dressed in a tiny steamy bathroom into damp clothes, potentially creating conflict about how long you are “hogging the bathroom” when you’re both in a rush, or your boss sees you in a towel, unless the boss agrees to be out of the room the entire time that you bathe and change.

      If there’s no money for it in your industry, then there’s no money for it. But room-sharing can force people to share things with their boss that in most industries people are normally entitled to keep private, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly when it isn’t necessary.

  23. Alienor*

    The room sharing itself doesn’t sound unusual to me, but I work for a company where everyone under VP level is required to share a room when traveling (unless there’s no one of an appropriate gender for them to share with, in which case they get private rooms), and it does sometimes mean that bosses end up sharing with subordinates. I don’t think anyone loves it, including the bosses, but that’s the way it is. That said, I agree that the boss’s response in this case was really rude and makes it seem like something shady is going on–if there were an actual business reason for it, she would have explained that, no?

  24. Former Museum Professional*

    At my last job (small nonprofit) we always shared rooms to cut down on costs. But when we made the arrangements I always put like with like — so bosses with other bosses (and the bosses shared unless we were an odd number out), coordinators with coordinators, interns with interns. I would never have put a boss with an intern (hella inappropriate IMO) or an intern with their coordinator supervisor. Where we had trips that were just me and an intern, we got two rooms. I never had a single complaint about the system.

  25. irritable vowel*

    Is there any way to spin this with HR as gender discrimination? If you were a man, there would be no question that you and your boss would have separate accommodations.

  26. kac*

    Oh god, that sounds dreadful. I travel a lot for work (sales, not even planning), and I feel stressed just thinking about having to share a hotel room with my boss after a long day at a conference–and I love my boss! That’s so upsetting in a travel-heavy job, that I might actually start looking for another job over it.

    If I were you, I would accept that you might not be able to do anything about this upcoming conference, but I would find a way to lobby hard to NOT share a room going forward. Is there someone else at your organization you could speak to, just to get a sense of norms and standard expectations when it comes to travel/hotel rooms? That way you’d be better prepared going into the conversation.

    Sorry, OP. That sounds dreadful.

  27. Kay*

    I snore really loud so my guess is I would only be sharing a room for the one trip and then after that I would get my own!

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I wonder if it is frowned upon to shove a snoring coworker? That’s how I handle my snoring spouse.

  28. Oh no not again*

    I couldn’t do it at all. I’d have to worry about the boss accusing me of harassment if they’re a homophobe (I’m gay– people get real weird about it sometimes). Besides, I don’t share rooms with coworkers no matter their gender. Family, friends, significant others? Yes. Coworkers? HELL NO. Trust is a big issue. And it doesn’t matter if there are two beds. You have to worry about your stuff getting stolen, or if their stuff comes up missing, are they going to blame you? Call me paranoid, IDGAF. I don’t trust coworkers.

  29. Cat like that*

    Event planner for a software company chiming in– if the company asked anyone who traveled for our events (myself, sales reps, marketers, etc) to share rooms then there would be much balking from all involved. We set aside large portions of our budget for these events, including individual accommodation for all. Sharing rooms is basically unheard of.

    However, I used to work for a small startup and ended up sharing a room at a Motel 6 with my boss (and getting attacked by bedbugs, but that’s another story). That company was on a tight budget, so we did everything we could to minimize the amount spent at events.

    I think it’s really dependent upon the size of the company and how many events they attend. It sounds like OP’s company attends a lot of industry events (they did hire a dedicated event planner, after all), so I don’t think OP’s concerns about room sharing are unjustified.

  30. snolonger nonprofit*

    I accepted a position that required travel to other cities for training a few times a year. I have never had to pay for hotel with other employers, etc but had a nagging feeling this company may have some issues before I even started working there. Once hired, it was explained to me that while my coworkers hotel rooms were paid for, those under my director had to share, not just with others in our office, but share with others attending the national trainings (yes COMPLETE strangers). I repeatedly spoke to management and my director how unsafe, unprofessional, etc. this was. I would pay out of my pocket the amount needed not to share a room for each trip Adding to this insult, the trainings were always very elementary and I learned very, very little. I would attempt to select trainings that were at least educational, but was thwarted by my director.
    There were so many issues working at this place, the hotel room situation was just a snapshot.

  31. Windchime*

    I need my downtime, and that means being alone. I don’t want to have to be “on” or gracious to a coworker (or, heaven forbid, my boss). I want to sit on my hotel bed in my underwear, eating popcorn and knitting. I don’t want to have to listen to someone’s blaring TV show, or bathroom noises, or anything. After a day of working or attending an event (or planning one! Even worse!), I need some serious time and space to decompress.

    The one time I shared a room, it was with two coworkers (one was my boss). Two queen beds. I claimed one for my own and my boss and coworker shared the other. It was quite strange to have to share a bathroom with my boss, let alone see her parading around the hotel room in her slip. Thank goodness my current employer sees it as totally normal and rational for everyone to have their own hotel room.

    1. Kassy*

      Sharing a bed? SHARING a BED?? Erm….nope, nope, nope.

      When I was 14 and went to state tournament for volleyball (where that type of thing is more accepted), I slept in a chair rather than share a bed. It was uncomfortable, but there wasn’t much they could do to stop me. I can’t even imagine this situation.

  32. Ann Furthermore*

    I know that there’s nothing illegal about requiring people to share hotel rooms when the travel for business, but it should be illegal. The last thing I want to do at the end of the day is to go back to my room and still have to be “work Ann” instead of “after-hours Ann” who wants to put on yoga pants, order room service, and watch TV. In this case I’d pay out of my own pocket to have my own room, but of course not everyone can afford to do that.

    If this was going to be the norm, I would start job searching immediately. This would be an absolute deal-breaker for me.

    1. fposte*

      Of course, there are whole industries where people share rooms not just on business travel but during work time. So while I get the distaste for doing so and I share it, sometimes the discussion seems a little socially stratified.

  33. Cheesehead*

    When I was young and new to business travel, my more experienced coworker (who was traveling with me) brought up the subject of sharing a hotel room, before it even became an issue. It was kind of an FYI/lesson for me. It went something like this: “Yeah, Boss is cheap and is always looking to save money, so he’s tried to get me to share hotel rooms before. Uh, no. I told him I’m away from my home and familiar surroundings, and I’m working long hours for the company. I need a place where I can decompress in private and not have to worry about someone seeing me in my jammies or worse. I’m not 14, and this ain’t summer camp. I’m an adult, a professional traveling for business purposes, and I expect my own room. Period.”

    I was always very grateful to that coworker for giving me that lesson early in my career. And I’ve always remembered that ‘summer camp’ comment, b/c I think it kind of spells out how the situation looks. I even used that comment somewhat recently when I had to travel and it was expected that I would share a room. We’d never shared rooms before, but all of a sudden we had to now? (I ended up sticking to my guns, and supervisor and I worked it out where I pricelined a room for myself at a different hotel that was a lot cheaper than the preferred hotel, and that was fine with me.)

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Something similar happened to me once too. I was working for a consulting firm and got assigned to a short-term project in the DC area. The company must have seriously low-balled the job to get it, because the first night I was there, I met one of the other consultants for dinner, and she was going on and on about how tight the budget was. She was there with another consultant (a guy) and they were sharing a 2-bedroom suite at the Residence Inn because it was cheaper than 2 separate rooms. I think they each had their own bathroom, so I could see doing that. Although for me that would still be pushing it, because I am an extreme introvert and when I’m travelling, the last thing I want at the end of a day full of interacting with people is any more human contact whatsoever.

      Anyway, at dinner, this woman said that it was too bad the other person working with us that week was a guy, because then they could have had me sleep on the pull-out sofa in the living room in the suite, and it would have been way cheaper. I said, “No, we couldn’t have done that.” She looked at me in surprise and I said, “This is not a junior high school slumber party with my girlfriends, this is work.” Thankfully, we never had to work together again.

      I’m pretty frugal when I travel for work, and I don’t eat expensive meals or stay in lavish hotels. If I’m travelling with someone else, we usually rent one car and share it, which makes sense. It would be dumb for 2 or 3 people to each get into their own cars and drive to and from the same place every day. But there’s a limit to what I’ll do to save the company money!

  34. Manager George Knox*

    Even in my poor-as-dirt state agency, where every dollar is scrutinized because TAXPAYER MONEY, we don’t have to share rooms. I think the only thing the agency fears more than accusations of wasteful spending are sexual harassment lawsuits.

  35. L.B.*

    I used to work in nonprofits with zero money when I was in my late teens–early 20s and sometimes we would be 4 to a room! When I moved up to a staff position I remember thinking “What a luxury, I only have to share a room with 1 other person and we each get our own bed!” When I started working in consulting my boss looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if I’d have my own room for my first trip.

    The only time I’ve ever shared a room since was my idea — I was with a colleague at a client meeting in Anaheim for one day, and the client agreed to pay for one hotel night for each of us. Well, I thought it was a shame to go all the way to Anaheim for 24 hours and not go to Disneyland, so we agreed to share one room for two nights and go to Disneyland the day after the meeting.

  36. I'm Not Phyllis*

    In my old workplace, they had asked a boss/employee to share a room together. The boss raised an objection, saying that she was concerned about how this would impact their personal relationship regarding things like performance appraisals and any difficult conversations. Not sure if it would help to frame it that way?

  37. GrumpyandSleepybutNotDopey*

    I’m sorry but to me you sound like a huge whiner. Just saying. I mean, it is one thing to object to sharing a hotel room on a trip, but “you moved to take a job here–not in Europe.” Cry me a river. I hope you deal with this and move on, or back out of the trip to accommodate someone who might appreciate it more.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Here’s the thing about traveling for work: it sounds exciting and glamorous, but much of the time it’s an inconvenient hassle. It’s hard spending so much time away from home, and your kids, if you have any. You have to arrange for someone to take care of your pets. You might have to ask someone to come by to set your trash out for the garbage collectors. And figure out how to handle a million other things you take for granted. Yes you might be going somewhere exciting, but if you’re going to be working the whole time, how much of it will you get to see or explore?

      All that, plus you have to fly, which is a pretty undignified way to travel these days.

      I go to Europe 4-5 times a year for work. It’s a necessary part of my job, and I don’t complain because the frequent flyer miles allow me to take my family on some pretty amazing vacations. But glamorous it is not.

  38. JeanLouiseFinch*

    This might be the one instance where my loud snoring would come in handy. If my husband is correct about my snoring, then my boss would be booking a second room after the first night! (He snores too, so we both just put up with it, but we are looking for a new house right now and I might just opt to have my own room.) Maybe you could pretend to loudly snore before your boss goes to sleep.

  39. ravi*

    Great advice above already.

    I’d definitely have a conversation to know going forward what is the norm regarding travel internationally (frequency, amount of advance notice, etc.) as well as if sharing a room is a regular occurrence or if this is an exception. You can argue, but it’s really up to the manager/owner how they want to run things.

    If they tell you that international travel is typically several times per year, and that sharing a room is expected, then you have a decision to make about whether you want to continue working there…

    Of course, you can make your demands known, and they can tell you what their plans are, and if they don’t align, you are free to take your talent elsewhere.

  40. Sarah*

    At my job at a non-profit (which is new and small enough that ANY travel for staff is difficult to budget), we are asked to share rooms at the one major conference we all go to (always just two to a room, same sex). BUT, we do not share rooms across management levels; that is, no one would ever share a room with someone they supervise in any capacity. Within that framework, people choose their own roommates. It’s worked out well, but the reason we do it is because you’re gonna be different with your boss than with a coworker, and it’s hard to relax when your boss is in the room. People could pay for their own hotel rooms if they so chose, but no one has done that yet, as it’s quite expensive.

  41. Essie*

    Eeeeeewwwww. Being expected to share a hotel room with one’s boss or co-worker is downright creepy. If your company requires you to travel, they shouldn’t make it as miserable as possible for you- they are doing no favors for themselves in terms of your productivity. Having to share a room with one’s boss, lovely as they might be, would be extremely uncomfortable for most people.

  42. Rob Lytle*

    The last time I shared a room was traveling to a trade show in Chicago. Shared a room with my boss and he came out of the shower and stood naked in the room talking to me for about 10 minutes. Very weird, and the last time I shared a room with anyone but my wife. I would refuse to travel or would pay for my own room first. If you’re asking me to travel, I’m probably working or “on” for 12 or more hours that day. I’m having my own space for the couple hours before I go to sleep.

  43. BJ*

    This is completely unacceptable. If you are required to work this event, then you should be given your own privacy in your own room. People talk in their sleep, snore loudly, fart, etc. Why in the world would your boss even think it’s okay to not give you any privacy. I don’t care if it is the same sex, but what if you do have a medical condition, or just have an upset stomach during the middle of the quiet night. Would anyone really want to have their boss hear them crapping their brains out in the bathroom? What if you are only comfortable sleeping in the nude? Now you can’t because you might acidentally throw the covers off or have to try to get dressed under the blankets when it is time to get up. This is so inappropriate.

    Think about it. Offices have dress codes everywhere and want everyone to appear professional. So why in the world is it all of a sudden okay to expose yourself on such a personal level with these same people?

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