is it normal to assign hotel roommates on a work trip?

A reader writes:

A while back, I worked at a place which took our whole department of maybe 20-30 people on a vacation for a long weekend once a year. Everyone in our department was an expat, and there was an expectation that most people wouldn’t stay working in this country longer than a few years, so this trip was meant to be a perk of our jobs and to allow us to enjoy the country we were living and working in (Thailand). There were also some higher-ups on the trip and a few perfunctory dinners with them, but no actual working. This was framed to us as a vacation that was part of our compensation package. No plus-ones were allowed. At this workplace, there was a culture of people being close friends with their coworkers and regularly socializing outside of work, and there were definitely cliques. Not all, but at least half of the people going on this trip were in their twenties.

People were allowed to opt out of the trip, but I don’t recall many people choosing to, if any.

Before the trip, it was explained that everything was paid for, including airfare, hotel, meals, and ground transportation. There was no mention of hotel arrangements specifically. I assumed that people would choose their own friends to share a hotel room with. However when we got to the hotel, a roommate list was read aloud and we were all assigned to a same-gender colleague to share a room with. The roommate list was roughly organized by job title with some obvious tweaking to allow two male managers who were close friends to be able to share a room, and two female non-managers who were close friends with each other and those managers to be able to share a room. One woman had to share a room with her manager.

While the person I was assigned to room with was perfectly pleasant and fine to share a room with, we weren’t close friends, and I certainly would have had a better time had I been allowed to select my own roommate. I understand it’s normal for people to be asked to share a room with a colleague on business travel when it’s just a few people going, but this seemed odd to me for a departmental vacation where so many people are going. I know others also thought it was odd, but no one pushed back at the time or asked to change rooms. Is this normal? And if it is normal to be assigned a roommate, is it normal not to be told in advance who you’ll be sharing with?

No, this is not normal.

First, I want to push back on the idea that it’s normal to be expected to share a room at all. In some industries, it is — you see it pretty commonly in academia, nonprofits, and some other fields without a ton of money to throw around. You also tend to see it in fields that run on young people (possibly because they figure young people will care less, which they often do, maybe because they’re not that far removed from the stage of sharing dorm rooms, etc.).

But there are lots of fields where expecting people to share rooms would be incredibly weird! And with good reason: Sharing a hotel room is awfully intimate. You don’t normally see coworkers in their pajamas, hear them snoring, or become familiar with their sleep or bathroom habits. Travel also can be draining, and most people want rest and privacy at the end of the day. Plus, people don’t always have compatible sleep habits (whether it’s bedtimes, or needing to sleep with light or a TV on, or needing absolute silence). And some people have medical conditions they’d prefer not to disclose or be forced to manage in front of colleagues.

It’s true, though, that there are fields where sharing hotel rooms is normal anyway. (Which is often hard for people in other fields to believe — they tend to be horrified by it for the reasons above.) And even in fields where you might normally get your own room on business travel, sometimes you find room-sharing arrangements on “reward” trips like the one you’re describing, where they’re taking the whole team and the trip is seen as a fun perk.

Still, even in those cases it is not normal to simply be assigned a roommate, without any chance for input. Sleeping in the same room as someone is an intimate thing, and people should be allowed to decide who they are and aren’t comfortable doing that with.

It’s also odd that your company didn’t give you a heads-up about the room-sharing arrangements before the trip so people could decide if they were up for that or not, or even offer to pay the difference to get themselves a private room.

There’s something very camp-like about how your employer approached this. I suspect it’s because you were all mostly young — I can’t see this flying otherwise.

{ 225 comments… read them below }

  1. Erin*

    I did share a room with a coworker once, but it was for a nonprofit. (That was very dysfunctional for separate reasons, coincidentally, or not!).

    The way this went down though especially rubs me the wrong way. They didn’t mention it, but mentioned all other details, and then read the room assignments out loud? That’s horrific. At the very LEAST it should have been a conversation/some transparency about why this was needed (finance, practicalities, what have you), and then every effort should have been made to acknowledge this was not ideal, and to meet people’s comfort level as much as possible. Including choice of roommates.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Right…that seems more like a school field trip than a professional endeavor. Was this anything about cultural norms in Thailand?

      1. Anon Lawyer*

        It may not be cultural norms in Thailand, but may be cultural norms related to one or more of the other countries folks working there were from too, since the LW says they were all expats.

        I am reminded of an “intern summer backpacking weekend” when I did a law school internship in Alaska where it was assumed everyone wanted to get out and see the wildnerness since we were only there for a summer. It was memorable but nothing I’d ever expect or participate in at a long-term permanent workplace.

      2. karenelainer*

        I recall a school trip where our entire 8th grade class visited DC and we got to submit our preferred roommate assignments. They did put us 4 kids to a room, but … we were in 8th grade. I also took a couple of school trips for speech tournaments and I think our roommates were assigned, but the team was only 20 kids and we’d all been working together throughout the year and we knew our roommate assignments ahead of time. So maybe not ideal, but reasonable. And again, we were in school.

      3. Elenna*

        Heck, even in school field trips, they let us pick our roommates! Granted, for my school’s trips we were 4 to a room and sharing beds.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          For my school residential trip to London in year 6, our teacher handled it by asking everyone to give a list of about six people they felt they would be happy to share with. In some cases, people were getting matched with someone who was on their list, but had really wanted to be with another person so there was some complaining of “But I wanted to be with Persephone!” But as far as our teacher was concerned she had accommodated people’s choices.

          1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

            I oversee a performing arts touring program for junior high and high school students with the organization I work for. Think along the lines of band tours.

            We follow a similar process. The kids are 4 to a room with two queen beds. We ask them to give us 3 people they would like to room with, and then guarantee that they will get *one* of their three choices. Sometimes all 4 get to room together; sometimes we put 2 groups of 2 friends together. Depends on the group that year and the dynamics. It can definitely be a puzzle to put all the combinations together.

          2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

            I went on an 8th grade trip to Washington DC way, way back when and it was the same deal – 4-5 people per room and we got to submit our preferred roommates. We also found out who we’d be rooming with in advance. (I was in a 5-person room and got the rollaway bed, the others shared 2 queen beds.) Perfectly fine for a school trip, but would not be fine for a work trip.

          3. English, not American*

            When we had a school trip around Italy when I was 12-13, it was kind of a free-for-all. We formed a long queue (so British) along the street and the people at the front were assigned rooms and told to grab the friends they wanted to share with, 4 or 5 to a room. It worked surprisingly well, given the oddball kids ended up in rooms with the less “cool” (and therefore less cruel) kids. It worked less well when the “cool” kids discovered they could buy alcohol and all got drunk in their rooms the night before we hiked up Mount Vesuvius.

            1. EvilQueenRegina*

              I can believe that! On the trip I mentioned, it was the “cool” girls getting caught in the boys’ rooms – it somehow happened that I ended up with my best friend of the time (we had put each other down), but we had also ended up with two other girls where none of us had chosen the others. One of these girls had to take a daily medication and our teacher used to call her every night to remind her – the day our teacher called and one of the other girls said “Oh, she’s in Steve’s room” it led to a big argument and threats to leave them behind the night we went to see a show.

      4. Theater Pro*

        Nah, not a cultural norm in Thailand. I have family that run a small business there and they take their employees on a weeklong vacation every year (so that part may be a bit cultural), but everyone picks their own roommates.

      5. Roci*

        LOL no Thailand has a huge tourism industry with enough hotels to accommodate foreign tourists of all budget levels. Also the purpose of the trip doesn’t seem to be “engage with Thai culture” as much as “have fun being a tourist while you’re here and save the company some money on this perk”.

    2. Paulina*

      The only trips I’ve been on where accommodations were assigned without asking preferences were ones where the participants wouldn’t already know each other anyway.

      There’s something particularly eyebrow-raising for this one due to the tweaking done. Like if you were close enough to the organizers that they wanted to cater to you, they did, and otherwise they didn’t care. Putting people with their immediate coworkers also makes it less of a break, and runs the risk of putting people together who already don’t get along. But they should tweak for everybody or nobody, instead of leaving people like the OP knowing they’d have a better time if the organizer had cared as much about them as they did about the clique.

  2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    How much more expensive would it be to get twice as many rooms? Could offset it by dropping some other part of the junket.

    This is not normal.

    1. Colette*

      On any given trip, hotel rooms are one of your highest expenses, so it’s probably not possible to double that cost and pay for it by cutting something else.

      1. BubbleTea*

        It doesn’t cost anything to let people pick room mates though (and it sounds particularly bad that the managers and their buddies were able to choose their friends, but everyone else was assigned by job role!).

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          My guess is it was the hassle. Give people the option and someone has to be in charge of handling all the requests and making everyone happy. I’ll bet they had previously done this and decided it was too much work. Easier just to assign rooms, with a few connected pairs grandfathered in.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              Harder than simply assigning them at random. Especially for someone who doesn’t have to hear the complaints afterwards.

    2. Midwest Manager*

      Back in the early 2000’s, I worked for a company that held mandatory 2-week trainings at their corporate office for new employees. People were paired up with others from different offices from all over the country, and not given prior notice of who their roommates were. BUT – the provided rooms were extended-stay suites with 2 bedrooms/bathrooms and a shared common area for each pair of employees. We weren’t sharing a room with two beds. Occasionally, if the extended-stay suites weren’t available, the company secured individual rooms at a regular hotel for participants. Given the amount of time we were expected to stay in the hotel for this training period, I’d say we were treated very well!

      1. SushiRoll*

        Yeah we use those extended-stay hotels when we would fly in our interns and early-career folks for conferences/meet-ups. It was like 60-70 college and just-post college workers each year, and they were barely in the room (we kept them busy) and it seemed to work well since they were just as private or probably more private than any dorm room.

  3. Goose*

    I’ve only worked nonprofits and have had to share hotel rooms, cabins, etc with coworkers for years. Sometimes three people to a room, sometimes strangers at conventions since everyone is trying to save a buck. I wish single rooms would become the norm.

    But if you’re in a field where they can afford to take you on a vacation… you should be able to sleep alone!

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I once went to a conference at one of those separate convention centers. The single rooms were very small and the bed was small, but that was much better than the normal hotel standard of big rooms with multiple beds where roommates are cost effective. This way a single room only fit a single person.

      Also there were no restaurants nearby so we all ate in a cafeteria too. It worked really well for the convention.

    2. many bells down*

      I’ve had to share A BED while working at a nonprofit. I was about 23 and didn’t realize that was weird.

      1. anon for this*

        ME TOO. Why did I accept that? Because I was 22 and thought it was cool that someone else was paying for accommodation.

        1. Frodo of the Shire*

          My closest sharing a room with people like this was my High School Senior trip to Disney World. We had to put 4 in a room and 2 to a bed. Even at 18 I was not having it. I slept on the floor. They were all my friends and all but I had NEVER shared a bed with someone. I get it’s cheaper to split this way but it can be really awkward. But even then I knew I was not comfortable with it.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Same. In HS they put four of us in a room and we opted to rotate nights with the bed, couch, and floor.

            1. Carol the happy elf*

              One of my best friends had to wear a body cast all through junior year in HS. When the choir and band did the Disney/tour, they didn’t know what to do with her, since the plan was “sardining” us all. She said she could sleep on the floor, but the nurse wouldn’t allow it. So she got her own room, and because we were friends, I had to room with her and make sure she survived.
              Because of the envy, the nurse gave me a logbook before we left and told the group that I had to wake up on the hour and check her vitals. We made up a lot of numbers, and had a blast.

              1. Forrest*

                You were supposed to WAKE UP EVERY HOUR?! And we’re responsible for checking her vitals?! I can’t even—

                1. JB*

                  You seem to have misread the comment. They were not supposed to do that, they just told everyone that so that the other kids wouldn’t be jealous.

            2. Elenna*

              Yeah, in my high school field trips, they put us 4 to a room (the trip was mostly paid for by our parents, IDK if anyone asked them but my parents, at least, would have preferred that we share beds rather than paying double the cost for rooms). My friends and I shared beds, but I definitely heard people saying they were sleeping on the floor or in the bathtub. (These were not nice enough hotel rooms to have couches.)

              That being said, even in high school they let us pick our roommates! How can it possibly hurt to tell people “sign up in pairs and we’ll randomly pair anyone who doesn’t sign up with a partner”?

          2. rudster*

            I was on the chess team, academic bowl team and debate team (nerd alert!!!), and when we had to travel to tournaments we were four to a room/2 to a queen or king bed. I don’t recall anyone having a problem with it, but this was in the mid 80s – times are different now I guess. In high school I recall that the large majority of people showered after 1st-period gym class rather than marinating in their own sweat and unwashed-for-a week-gym-uniform mustiness for the rest of the day, but I understand that nobody does this anymore.

          3. Adultiest Adult*

            Yeah, even as a teenager I wouldn’t share a bed with anyone, but nothing. I won’t sleep and that doesn’t benefit anyone. I’ve spent plenty of nights on the floor or a couch in my time. And once on an air mattress shoved into a walk-in closet (that was actually kind of fun!)

          4. Another British poster*

            When I did Birthright Israel I had to share a tiny room with three other women and wound up having to sleep in a chair even though I’m quite seriously disabled.

            The whole trip was a nightmare and really turned me away from my heritage.

            1. Randy*

              That brings back memories feom my Birthright trip. My friend and I wound up paying extra for our own people were constantly switching rooms and trying to hook up.

            2. Rugelach*

              I had someone try to bully me for having “fake curly hair” (I do in fact have curly hair) when they saw me styling it in the shared bathroom. Birthright was such a waste!

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          When I was that age I was very active in a hobby group that held weekend events all around the state. The culture was for people local to that week’s event to offer crash space to people from out of town. This might range from a bed in a guestroom to a spot on the living room carpet. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have achieved a station in life where I can get a motel room without breaking the bank.

          1. Paulina*

            Heartily second on how good it is to just get your own room. I also have learned to ignore people who insist they can put me up, because experience has shown that their idea of sufficient accommodations and mine are often very different.

            1. Self Employed*

              Or adequate cleanliness. My ex and I were hosted once by friends who insisted we take their bed… and they clearly hadn’t done laundry recently. We had sleeping bags and offered to take the couch, but they wouldn’t have it.

              I also had to make last minute plans once when the friend who offered to put me up hadn’t realized I needed to know he had moved in with a friend who had been smoking in the flat for decades (and I’m terribly allergic to smoke/residue). Luckily, it was off-season and we managed to get bunks at a hostel–but the bunks that were left were in the big room where people come and go all night, so we didn’t sleep much.

              Another time I hadn’t planned to stay over, but I was too tired to drive home after dinner and games. Lovely guest room, real down comforter and pillows… which I’m allergic to. I woke up barely able to breathe.

              I have concluded that I will not stay with anyone unless I’ve already visited and know I’m not going to be ambushed by allergens.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Right? If you can afford to pay for a company-wide vacation, you can afford solo rooms! If solo rooms are the tipping point for not being able to afford the vacation, then come up with a less expensive perk for people to enjoy.

      1. Colette*

        It sounds like people can opt out if they’re not OK with it, and doubling your accomodation expense is a pretty big request – one that might be big enough to mean that it’s not worth doing anything.

        1. rudster*

          But it’s Thailand, not Tokyo. How expensive could it be? Sure, there are luxury resorts, but on the whole I always thought the country was supposed to be pretty affordable.

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            That also means that a company operating there might be bringing in less revenue, though (not sure what their business is, but they’re not necessarily dealing in foreign currency/revenues).

    4. Le Sigh*

      I’ve had to do this on and off for nonprofits I work for — just a room, not a bed (no thanks on that). I don’t like sharing (esp. as I get older), but often we’re in cities with expensive hotel rooms and I don’t really get a vote on it. At least with the trips I’m on, I know the team well and can pick the person to room with, usually someone I’m friends with (and never my boss — I’m fairly sure she wouldn’t want that either).

      I did once have to room with a coworker I wasn’t crazy about, and she didn’t help my view of her by commenting on each and every item I packed and how much I packed, and how do I fit all of that into a carry on, etc.? Like, okay I get it, I pack a lot of stuff because I hate being without my creature comforts, but like…can we just not worry about it? I’m not over here talking about how you’re in bed with a full sushi spread watching Poltergeist.

  4. Person from the Resume*

    This is not normal because it is a vacation funded by the employer; it’s not business travel. That’s unusual and not normal all around. I don’t think trying to apply business norms to this situation works at all.

    I agree that being assigned a roommate on business travel not preferred and a bad idea, but it’s not wildly unusual because people keep writing letter to AAM about it.

  5. Suzy Q*

    While this was a “vacation” (putting that word in quotes because it seemed to me somewhat mandatory), being forced to share rooms can also limit professional opportunities. I skipped an annual conference for several years because I would have had to room with the most passive-aggressive woman in the office and NOPE. Only when I could be provided my own room did I start attending.

  6. Hazel*

    Not to mention that you should not have to share a room with your MANAGER! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I wouldn’t want to share an office or any small space with my manager. You would have to be “on” at all times. Noooooooooo!

    1. Figgie*

      Many years ago, my spouse had to share a room with his boss. Who had underwear with multiple holes in it and announced to my spouse that he was “in the bathroom a lot because I have anal fixtures.” (And no, my spouse did NOT ask him what “anal fixtures” were!

      It was fairly traumatic for my spouse and he has refused to go to work conferences if they expect him to share a room with anyone else! Fortunately, it never happens nowadays.

        1. Anon for this*

          As someone who has been having issues with anal fissures – if anything that makes me go to the bathroom *less*. :P

    2. Brightbetween*

      I once had to share a BED with my manager. This was in an industry where it’s common to share rooms on business travel and there was a mix-up at the hotel. There were three of us in the room and we had asked for a two queen bed room and a rollaway. They instead had given us a one king bed room with a rollaway. At least it was a big bed — we put pillows down the middle to stay on our respective sides, plus we were (and still are) friends.

  7. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This doesn’t sound like a typical work arrangement to me, so I’m not especially horrified by the roommate assignment. It sounds more like a junior training program of some sort, and those are more, well, camp-like. It reminds me of studying abroad, taking a weekend trip, and being assigned to room with a total stranger– we became good friends.

    It also sounds less like a true “vacation” and more of a team building type of trip, but that’s just my inference.

    Granted, I wouldn’t be cool with this now, not by any means. I’m 20-plus years older and less inclined to participate in a similar type of job, added “perks” or no. But I just don’t think it’s all that out of the ordinary in the context the LW describes.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That’s my thought, except that if you’re going camping with people you already know, there’s input into sleeping arrangements. My guess is someone didn’t want to go through the work of doing that, so they just paired people up, with special preferences given to the person who was doing the arrangements and their preferred friends.

      1. Willis*

        Yeah, this. I had to organize hotel rooms for a school-led trip in grad school and it was such a PITA to get people to respond about who they wanted to room with (and individual rooms were an option cause we were paying for this ourselves anyway…some people just didn’t answer). So, I could totally see somebody thinking it’s easier to just pair people up, and maybe beneficial if there are cliques that would otherwise result in someone being left out. It would’ve been better to tell people ahead of time or let them pick (or swap) but it doesn’t sound particularly egregious in the entire context.

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, that’s my thought, too. Letting people choose sounds good but is actually more complex than it seems (people don’t reply, 6 people want the same roommate, no one wants to room with one person, etc.) and they wanted to avoid the hassle. Totally agree that if it was necessary to share rooms, everyone should have known that (as well as how the roommates would be assigned) going in.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            I agree here. Find your own roommate is its own kind of nightmare for anyone without a work BFF or anyone not the most popular person.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              Artemesia suggested further up that people wanting to share should answer in pairs, then only those who haven’t done so will be assigned a room-mate.
              This is how they did it at my previous job, and it worked pretty well. I at least always managed to share with someone I enjoyed working with, and the trip worked as a bonding moment.

        2. Frodo of the Shire*

          Completely making this up in my head because it’s hard without all the information; but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what happened with the OP’s arrangements. It’s sounds like OP didn’t look into the specifics of the room arrangements prior to the trip; which is something I would be most concerned about. It also sounds like others had the opportunity to room with people of their choosing. So…WAS there a chance to pick your roommates and either OP wasn’t aware or missed the deadline and therefore got a random person?

          I find it really REALLY hard to imagine that there was no prep prior to this trip. No group meeting about what to do when at the airport? how bags are handled, what to do at the hotel, the hotel arrangements? nothing? Just….show up and boom? There was no contract explaining how the trip was run? I would think you would have had to sign SOMETHING for liability reasons when the job is taking care of everything. Something just doesn’t. And if it was me, I would be asking questions for my own knowledge. Do we get our own room? do we share? who are we sharing with? can we pick our roommates?

          Not blaming the OP or anything. I just find the whole situation weird

          1. Emilia Bedelia*

            I agree- it sounds like this is just something that OP accepted as the thing that was going to happen. No indication here that they refused to let OP switch, or that OP asked about arrangements.

            It definitely doesn’t sound like the company communicated well about how everything was going to be handled, but it also doesn’t sound like OP asked too many questions either. In my experience with entry level young 20 somethings, they often make assumptions about the way things are/should/will be, and don’t realize that they can ask questions, push back on things, make requests, etc. The company is probably thinking “well, no one complained, so it’s fine”. Hopefully a not-too-unpleasant lesson was learned in speaking up and confirming assumptions.

            1. Frodo of the Shire*

              Agree. It doesn’t sound like it was a disaster of a trip or a nightmare to the person; just uncomfortable and confusing. So I agree it’s just a notch on the learning experience list. You should always get all your information before agreeing to do something this big of scale. Even if it’s just to prepare mentally for what the trip entails.

          2. me*

            I work in China, which obviously is a different country than Thailand, but if this letter were from China, it would not surprise me at all that there was no meeting ahead of time. Foreigners are often told things at the last minute with little opportunity for questions. Sharing rooms on trips is expected to save costs. Also, here, nobody would care if you switch rooms at the hotel, and you probably could put in a request to stay with a friend ahead of time.

    2. DrSalty*

      Yeah agreed. I don’t think it’s so weird in this context. It’s odd to be OP didn’t ask at any point what the roommate/rooming situation would be.

      1. LTL*

        Unless stated otherwise, I would’ve assumed that everyone would have separate rooms.

        But it doesn’t sound like OP was surprised by the room sharing. It sounds like they were surprised about the roommate assignment. That’s so outside work norms, I would be amazed if someone did ask about it beforehand. Perhaps this has to do with Thai work norms??

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Yeah, same. My company does something like this and they tend to assign roommates based on same gender/level in the company but across offices so you’re rooming with somebody you may have never met. So we know going into it that we will all have a roommate, but we don’t know who until we get to the resort. It can be awkward, but we’re also in the rooms maybe 6 hours/day if we’re very determined to sleep. There have been nightmare years (apparently the year that the hotels selected had clear glass bathroom walls was memorable – which I wouldn’t want with a partner, let alone a colleague!), but a free vacation is such a treat that we mostly just say, “Okay, fine, I’ll deal.”

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Do you pack that type of thing for a work trip???? I’d have kicked up a tremendous fuss if I’d had that with a work colleague!

    3. Phony Genius*

      Agree that this is not a vacation, since your coworkers are there. It’s a trip.

  8. UKDancer*

    Definitely not normal in my field in the UK. I would not be happy sharing a room with someone as I like my own space. If I were expected to share I’d want to know about it beforehand so I could see if it was possible to get a room of my own (even if that involved paying more myself). I’d really hate to be assigned a roommate at random. I mean I put up with it at university. For example when we went on a law school trip to Berlin we were all sharing rooms in the youth hostel. But I would not do so now as my need for privacy is now greater and I don’t particularly want to be that intimate with my colleagues.

    Most of my work travel involves being quite outgoing / networking with people and being sociable. The days are long and the level of required engagement is quite high. Accordingly at the end of the evening I want to retreat to my own room, have a long hot bath with a lush bath bomb in it and retreat to bed with a mug of cocoa and not have to speak to people until the next day.

    I don’t require a super luxury hotel (and have spent a lot of time in the Premier Inns around England) but I do want my own bed and my own bathroom.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I was asked, once, if I’d share a room in a hotel with a female colleague to ‘keep down costs’ in the UK. I think my horrified expression said it all!

      Least they accepted it was ‘no way’ and never asked again. Now getting a hotel room that was a) disabled accessible and b) had a double bed because I’m over 6 foot tall…that was harder.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I’ve a colleague who uses a wheelchair and getting her a room that’s suitable and one next door for her personal assistant has been a source of frustration for her on a fairly regular basis.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      I personally love a good Premier Inn, but then I think they and Ibis are at the top of the mid-tier budget options!

      I’ve never been asked to share a room with a colleague, not even when I was lowest rung on the ladder. I do wonder if it’s more common in the US due to massive hotel rooms and how ‘normal’ sharing a room during university is.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes definitely, PI are definitely mid-tier. My company let us stay anywhere within the price ceilings they set but they set the ceilings fairly low. I usually found the PI represented the best quality for the amount we were allowed to spend. The rooms were clean and comfortable and the breakfast was ok.

        When we went abroad we could sometimes get more for the money. So when I went to a conference in Minsk I stayed in a much nicer hotel than I’d dream of using in the UK.

      2. Forrest*

        I had a couple of jobs with tons of internal UK travel, and Premier Inns and Ibis are fine, Travel Lodge is TERRIBLE (no dinner or breakfast!) and the St Pancras Pullman is absolutely dreamy and almost made the job worthwhile.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Another good budget option is the Motel One chain. It was established by somebody who worked for the Accor Group (Ibis and Sofitel).

    3. LTL*

      I went to college in the UK where the norm for dorms is single rooms rather than having roommates. And thank God because I have no idea how I’d share a room with someone I wasn’t at least friends with. The only people I can live with without question is family. I can make exceptions for some friends but not all. Forget colleagues.

      1. allathian*

        A matter of semantics again. Perhaps someone in the US could clarify, but AFAIK roommate means essentially the same thing as flatmate does in the UK. You share accommodation but have your own bedrooms to sleep in. I suppose it could be different in dorm accommodation, though.

        I’ve only had to share a room with a coworker once. It was for a two-day team development seminar at a spa. I just got a manicure and pedicure, because I’m allergic to chlorine to the point that I can barely walk past an outdoor swimming pool without feeling sick, and I also wouldn’t want my coworkers to see me in a swimsuit. We got to pick our roommates. I’m just glad the hotel had twin beds. The person I shared a room with happened to be my best work friend at the time, so I was willing to live with the slight awkwardness. She retired soon afterwards and we still keep in touch, nearly 5 years later, and I’m very bad at keeping in touch with former coworkers.

        Other than that particular trip, I usually go to a two-day conference every year (except last year, because pandemic), and I’m so glad that I get my own room. After a day of attending presentations and networking with other professionals in my field, I need to be able to relax properly. I’m also a very light sleeper, and it would be awful to essentially spoil the second day of the conference through lack of sleep.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          Speaking as someone who went to a UK university that did have some shared rooms for first years, they were definitely two beds to one room as opposed to separate bedrooms in the same accommodation.

          Until we had a sudden influx of new applications due to Prince William starting, when there were examples of some old common rooms being brought into use as multiple shared rooms and….bunk beds. Not kidding.

          The roommate vs flatmate thing, what you said is my understanding of it.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          In the US we tend to use “roommate” for either “person I share a room with” or “person I share an apartment/house with but we have separate rooms” (although we also use “housemate” for the latter sometimes). It’s quite common for college dorm rooms to have 2 (or more) people sharing a single sleeping room. My college had some rooms with two beds and two desks in the same room as the beds, and some with 2 sets of bunk beds (so 4 total people) in a tiny sleeping room and an adjoining room with 4 desks and wardrobes. (I chose my dorm because, while I had to share a room with someone, it at least had separate walk-in closets for each roommate so I had a small space of my own.) Many of these dorms will also have a shared bathroom for the entire floor rather than bathrooms in the rooms. (Some dorms are nicer than this – it varies a lot.) When not in a dorm, it is less common for people to share a sleeping room with someone they’re not in a relationship with, but it wouldn’t surprise me in some of our higher cost of living areas or in situations like agricultural migrant worker housing.

          In college, we once took a dorm trip to the beach and piled about 15 people into a 2 bedroom condominium for the weekend, but that’s not something I’d do now that I’m not a teenager and significantly less broke. (Most of us slept on the floor in the living room, which seems reasonable when you’re 17 and not far removed from having slumber parties in middle/high school.)

    4. TechWorker*

      I’m also in the U.K. and think (as others have said) there’s a huge distinction between ‘business travel’ where my company would never ever expect me to share a room, and a ‘free holiday’ which my company has done multiple times and has ended up with broadly the same room sharing arrangements as here. I think we generally have been allowed some input (like they would be careful not to put someone with their manager or with someone they actively disliked), but sharing rooms is just something you put up with if you want the free holiday. (And yes these were genuinely both a holiday, Eg no work or work like ‘team building’ and optional. I’m not sure what would have happened if someone asked to pay to have their own room but it might have been doable).

      I don’t think this will happen again cos we’ve since been taken over by a much bigger company with stricter social policies that rule out room sharing ever.. but I don’t think it’s necessarily a country culture divide so much as a ‘startup’ culture divide?

      1. TechWorker*

        I guess I’m saying that if you’re socialising with (and drinking with) your colleagues on the regular, then sharing a hotel room for a couple of nights is not such a big overstep.

      2. UKDancer*

        That’s very interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever worked anywhere that has offered staff a free holiday although I’ve done a lot of business travel during my career. Personally I would probably pass on the offer of a holiday with colleagues because I am a bit fussy about what I spend my holidays doing and with whom. I like my colleagues but there aren’t many of them I’d choose for extended socialising or to go away with.

    5. Chas*

      Agreed, I work in an academic lab in the UK and I’ve not shared a room since my A-levels. The last time it was even considered a reasonable option was during my PhD when everyone in my group all went to Sicily for a 4-day conference and one of the room options was a four-bed room, which I could have shared with the other 3 female PhD students in my lab. But even then I though ‘heck that, I’m an adult now!’ and told my supervisor I was planning to book one of the cheapest single rooms for myself. (Which he seemed fine with me doing) Though at the time I did end up feeling a bit guilty because the other three women decided to book one of the four-bed rooms together and seemed surprised that I didn’t want in on it as well. (Although afterwards they said it was great having the extra bed’s worth of free space, and they’d always been a lot more chummy with each other than they were with me, so it probably would have been horribly awkward for me to share with them, for them as well as me.)

      But since I joined my current lab, on the rare occasions I’ve travelled for work, I’ve always been expected to organise my own (budget-tier) travel and accommodation and no one even suggests the idea of sharing a room, even if several of us are going to the same place.

  9. KuklaRed*

    I only had to share a room with a co-worker once (because of some kind of booking mix up) and it was only for one night but wow, that goes down as one of the WEIRDEST experiences of my life. We were in Amsterdam, WAY out in the countryside somewhere at a retreat. The woman I was rooming with was not one of my favorite people, by a long shot. She is VERY tightly wound and it was so uncomfortable. One of the worst things was that we had to share a bed. It was 2 twin beds side by side, and we couldn’t separate them, so yeah… it was about as bizarre as you can imagine. I don’t think either of us was happy about it, but at least it was just the one night.

    I’m hoping I never have to do that again. Ever.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I was at a convention in Berlin, before the wall came down; the hotel they booked us in was at Tempelhof. (Most well-known nonprofit of all!)
        We were all quite young, and they put us in a “double”. There was a check-list with names, so I was delighted to have a room with my friend from high school.
        When we got into the room, there were no actual beds- only a long, wide banquette that ran the length of the room on one side. It had bolsters, rolls at either end and two in the middle.
        My friend laughed and said “maybe it’s a suite?” We opened the door to the closet, the door to the next room over, and went to ask where to sleep. (Maybe a Murphy or hide-a-bed?)
        Nope, the banquette WAS THE BED. It was more than the length of two twin beds, almost as wide, and we could sleep head to head, feet to feet, or one of us could have her feet getting tickled by the other’s hairdo. (1988, big hair, stiff perms.)
        We loved the oddness of it! We still talk about how much fun that was; more like a sleepover than a business trip.
        After that, I was much more aware of rights and wrongs of business travel, and sometimes, depending on the circumstances, weird can be fun. A giraffe getting a drink from the second floor deck? Sure. A naked drunk coworker walking into the kitchenette of a 3-bedroom suite? Not so much.

      2. KuklaRed*

        Yeah, it was about as awful as you think. This was a woman I had worked with at 2 other companies and we did NOT like each other. In addition to being high strung (in a bad way), she was a name dropper and the kind of person who thought that throwing around a few buzzwords would make everyone not notice that she really did not know what she was doing. She knew I saw right through her shenanigans. It was a very uncomfortable night.

    1. Kiko*

      My ex-coworker had a similar experience and had to share a bed with her *direct report*. I’m surprised she didn’t quit on the spot.

    2. AntsOnMyTable*

      I did a volunteer program to Tanzania and we all knew we were sharing a room but the homestays were told they had to have a bed for each of us. The first one only had one bed for me and the person I was with- who I didn’t know that well – and it was very uncomfortable. Especially since I know I have a habit of snuggling up to people at night and so I was terrified of sleeping and doing that. I just dozed the entire night not moving from my one position. Luckily they got us a second bed once we told the program coordinators but I felt bad because that meant the entire family was sharing one bed.

  10. Annika*

    Several years ago, my university pushed sharing rooms because of budget cuts. That suggestion disappeared in about a year due to pushback. I don’t travel much for my job, but I would have not wanted to share. I make a terrible roommate. I sometimes snore, but I cannot sleep if anyone else snores. I don’t even want to share a room with my fiance let alone a stranger.

    1. Lynn*

      I agree. I once, back in my much, much younger days, shared a room with a colleague on a business trip. We were asked to drive together, and to share a room at our destination. Never again. I liked my colleague just fine, but sharing a room is a horror story. I snore, I talk in my sleep, I have bad bouts of insomnia, and I just plain need my space. My current company has now curtailed all business travel, but they do not ask us to share rooms and never have. I would never be willing to go back to sharing.

      Sometimes I don’t even want to share with my husband-and we’ve had 25 years to learn to put up with each other. And I have definitely kicked the cats out of bed if they are snoring (or fidgeting, or bathing too loud).

    2. allathian*

      Same here. I’m a poor sleeper, which is why we have separate bedrooms. I’m not a pleasant person to be around if I can’t get enough sleep. I’m fairly certain that separate bedrooms saved our marriage.

      At this point in my career, I’m definitely not going to share a hotel room with a coworker under any circumstances. I’ll pay the difference for a single room if I have to, but I’m not sharing.

  11. Mannheim Steamroller*

    My employer nominated me to attend an annual conference a few years ago, and specifically wanted an even number of attendees so that everyone would share a room. I declined (because I don’t like sharing a hotel room with a stranger), so the boss revoked my would-be roommate’s nomination instead of replacing me with somebody else.

    1. Retro*

      Yikes! Your boss sounds awful. That certainly doesn’t foster good relationships between coworkers and unfairly punishes someone who deservedly should’ve attended the conference.

    2. allathian*

      That’s an awful response. I feel sorry for your coworker who didn’t get to go to the conference through no fault of their own.

  12. Retro*

    Could it be possible that the employer wanted to minimize the chances of opposite gender coworkers bunking together secretly and other shenanigans and thought it was best to treat OP and her coworkers as children going to camp?

    I think OP’s company could’ve just had a roommate signup where ppl signed up to be roommates and then they could assign the people who hadn’t signed up in pairs with a roommate. It would’ve been a way to communicate that you would be sharing a room and giving ppl a say in who they would be sharing a room with.

    1. UKDancer*

      I think this would have been better if there was advance warning and a sign up sheet. Also perhaps letting people know what it would cost to get a single room. Personally I’d have been happy to pay more myself for privacy and a room to myself. Others might have been of the same opinion.

    2. Coenobita*

      Yeah, that sounds like when I was at field camp as an undergrad geology major. But everyone just swapped around until the people hooking up with each other were together anyway…

      I do work at a nonprofit where we are occasionally expected to share rooms, not on regular business trips but during occasional department- or org-wide meetings where it’s meant as a “get to know your colleagues” thing. Even then we are encouraged to choose our own roommates, though.

    3. BubbleTea*

      Quite apart from the fact that same gender colleagues can get up to shenanigans too, there’s nothing about allocating rooms that stops people sneaking about (unless someone was actually policing it and checking beds, which raises this to a whole new level of horror). You’re right that this is treating them like children, but when I was a kid going on tours with my orchestra we at least picked our room mate!

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I actually had a coworker offer me $50 to trade rooms– mine had a door connecting to his secret-from-the-company girlfriend, and the company had made sure no adjoining rooms were between opposite sexes, for privacy and safety. After speaking with the woman involved, and being told that they were going to skip dinner and ggo to a wedding chapel to tie the knot, I agreed, put some rose petals on the bed and upscale bubble bath in the bathroom. He had already found a job with another place, but they had been planning this for months.

        What happens in Vegas–is really off the walls.

        1. Paulina*

          Secretly marrying in Vegas while there on a company trip is next-level “while we’re here” business travel piggybacking.

        2. No Tribble At All*

          This story is AMAZING (and it’s cute you got them a little wedding present)

    4. Ashley*

      But in this day an age people really should stop assuming everyone is straight so even this logic can be terrible if you are trying to avoid ‘shenanigans’ which is another level of not trusting your employees.

    5. TechWorker*

      On one of our company holidays some poor sod slept on the floor in the room of two other guys because the colleague he was meant to be sharing with had brought a woman back with him… everyone was friends and in their early 20s but that seemed over the line to me :p

    6. Paulina*

      IDK, maybe I read too much into the grouping of the two male manager buddies and their two female non-manager friends, or made bad assumptions, because I thought that type of arrangement was being enabled (for them) not prevented.

    7. Not Driving*

      If two people want to have sex, they’re gonna find ways to have sex, and management isn’t really going to be able to stop them. Nor should they, we’re talking about adults, here.

  13. miki*

    I used to work in a big international firm. There was a yearly trip where people from the whole region of Europe from that company met for a few days – in part for team building and in part for cross-training with teams from other countries. We had to share rooms but we were informed of that in advance and we could pick our roommate. I think the higher managers got their own rooms, I was a beginner then so I’m not sure. But then it turned out that a lot of rooms had king size beds instead of two separate beds! So I had to share a bed with my coworker. If I think about it it’s not surprising – there were around 200 of us and it would be hard to find a hotel with enough double rooms. (We were in a small country.) But it was so weird.

  14. b-jolie*

    My company has offered room sharing as an option for kick-off events, where hundreds of people would be congregating. However, it was always presented as an option and you could choose to have a room to yourself if you wanted. People who shared would receive a small “bonus” (eg money to spend in the hotel casino).

    1. Clisby*

      I like this option better than telling employees they can spend their own money to upgrade to a single room. The default can be the single room, and people who choose to share a room can then get a little bonus.

    2. Momma Bear*

      When you reserve a huge block, you can often get a discounted rate. We have an annual event for which some people stay in the hotel (company paid) and some opt to (at the negotiated rate). I think giving adults options is better.

    3. Michael Valentine*

      I’ve also shared a room for a work event. But…this was due to a room shortage at the hotel, and all who shared were volunteers (selected way ahead of time) who received a nice gift card afterward. I bunked with an old friend. I warned her I snore, and she said she already wears earplugs every night, so that worked out.

      This was a one-time deal, though. I won’t volunteer again as I feel like I paid my dues.

  15. MechE*

    I can’t begin to imagine my management trying to roll this out. There would be mutiny. People (myself included) would be apoplectic. If you can’t afford individual rooms, you can’t afford to operate a business/send people on travel. I’m a professional, not a teenager, I’m not sharing a room.

  16. Everdene*

    Oh this reminds me of a Christmas party at a charity I worked for in my 20s. My team was remote so we all had rooms provided at the event hotel, but some of us had to share rooms away from the main building. I was paired with another female colleague because we were both young and would be up partying. What they didn’t know was that my colleague was newly pregnant and I had a reaction to something in the meal so there was much vomiting in our room and we were both in bed before 10pm! I was so ill work had to delay my flight home and pay for another night in the hotel – I even had an emergency GP visit. The whole thing was pretty bad and would’ve been so much better if we had kept the single rooms we had for the two nights previous. Only good thing was we were friendly collegues and tried to make the best of it for each other.

  17. Heidi*

    I remember when I started grad school, we had an orientation camping trip and we all shared one-room cabins with bunk beds and it didn’t seem weird, but I think that the camping environment makes sharing the space with strangers seem normal. The hotel aspect of this makes it seem weirder to share with a relative stranger. The expectation of privacy is all different.

  18. Lucky*

    Alison’s answer is based on what’s normal for traveling when you have a typical job in the US, but the fact that OP and coworkers are all a bunch of expat in Thailand is really important context. I’ve worked as an expat in several developing countries including Thailand. Working in that sort of environment has very different norms than a typical job in the US, including norms around travel. I’ve shared rooms with coworkers several times. It’s not ideal, but it does happen. Sometimes its a budget issue and sometimes there are literally not enough hotel rooms in town for everyone to have their own.

    1. Myrin*

      I don’t have any knowledge of Thailand in particular but that was my thought as well.
      I also didn’t quite get the logic behind “I understand it’s normal for people to be asked to share a room with a colleague on business travel when it’s just a few people going, but this seemed odd to me for a departmental vacation where so many people are going.” because, I mean, wouldn’t it make more sense for people to share if there are also more people? As in, I can see an employer shelling out for three single rooms if only three people are going but thirty single rooms? (Not meant as a jab at the OP at all, btw, I’m just wondering if I missed something crucial about the thought process here.)

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I took it as something like…well if you’re trying to budget for people to go to a conference, say, you might decide, we want to send more people (and they want to go) but we’d need to double up on rooms. But if the company is planning a big trip as a reward for all employees, they know the number upfront when planning it. So there shouldn’t be the same level of “squeezing people in” since they’re the ones throwing this shindig in the first place.
        I’m not saying I agree with that, but I suspect that where’s the OP was coming from.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yeah, I agree that the expat thing makes it more normal to share rooms, but it’s still not normal, IMO, not to let people pick their roommates, if they have someone they’d prefer to room with.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Yes, this is what I was wondering. I book business travel for my colleagues a lot and in some locations hotel options are limited and it would be challenging to secure 30 individual rooms over a long weekend. (Also potentially a lot more expensive if they don’t have a contracted room rate or if this is a holiday hotspot/peak season.) So if the company has reason to believe that people are okay with sharing – and it sounds like even the OP was, just not with the assigned roommates – I don’t think it’s crazy that they would go with shared rooms. The assigned roommates part is odd, but the rooms I get.

  19. A New CV*

    An important part of this is the cultural differences between professional standards in different countries. It would be unusual to share a room with a colleague in a lot of North American or European countries or professions, but it really isn’t outside the norms in Thailand. I lived and worked as an ex-pat in Thailand for 8 years, and often bunked with colleagues on professional trips. So while this discussion is important in an American context and you shouldn’t feel pressured to do things that are unusual there, it’s also important to remember that this wasn’t so egregious in this particular situation. It’s just different norms in different places.

    1. TechWorker*

      Now I feel lucky because I interned for a U.K. company who had an office in Thailand and got an absolutely massive hotel room to myself for 2 weeks. You could literally lie on the bed sideways with room to spare :p (I’d spent the rest of the summer sharing a student flat- thankfully not a room -with the other interns and being driven basically mad, so I do not think I would have done well with 2 weeks in a hotel room…)

    2. WS*

      Yeah, I worked in Japan and we had a trip where we were sharing with 4 same-sex colleagues to a room, assigned. It was considered fun and like being back at high school – I did not find it fun and like being back at high school, but it wasn’t my culture so I wasn’t going to complain! We also went in hot springs together, naked, so sharing a room wasn’t such a big deal considering.

  20. TypityTypeType*

    Even if people were choosing their own roommates, how awful would it be for the people who weren’t able to find anyone to share with?

    I can just imagine being one of those leftover people: “Does anybody want to share with Typity? Any volunteers? Please?” Playground trauma all over again!

    I’m sure the management meant well, but if they can’t afford to give everybody a private room, they can’t afford to do a staff vacation.

    1. LDF*

      Not that horrible. Anyone who doesn’t submit a mutual request gets matched automatically like they did here with everyone, it doesn’t have to be a Thing.

    2. DyneinWalking*

      As someone who never was a popular kid, I’d DEFINITELY prefer being among the left-over, unmatched people over being assigned a room mate with no input at all! Sharing a bedroom is SO much more intimate than playing in the same team in the game.
      Spending all night with someone who slightly resents you because you aren’t the person they’d have preferred wouldn’t be a nice experience; especially if the other person decided to let their preferred person stay in the room for much of the time. You’d be completely dependent on the other person being polite, respecting your boundaries and privacy and not gossiping behind your back about whatever odd things they noticed about you. Any personal clashes would be magnified a thousandfold.

      The trauma and drama from forced room mates independent of preferences is way, WAY worse than a repeated “playground trauma” could ever be.

      1. TypityTypeType*

        Well, sure. That’s why I said it should be private rooms or skip the trip — then there’s no roommate stress or drama at all.

        1. Anon Lawyer*

          I mean, it sounds like it was a sight seeing trip for young people living in another country who had every option to skip it and were basically fine sharing rooms. Not sure why the company should cancel it.

  21. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    It was nice if your company to offer that trip, but I agree that assigning roommates is not normal. And that sharing a room in any case is not normal. I’m one of the people horrified by the idea of sharing a room with a colleague. My stance on that is, if the company doesn’t want to (or can’t) pay for both of us to be there, then just send one of us (or neither of us). Or have a Zoom call. If they are going to try and make business travel a more of a hardship than it already is, they shouldn’t make people travel. I HATE companies and managers who are cheap about travel. Not expecting The Ritz, but don’t make me fly a discount airline, have connecting flights just to save $100, or stay at a cheap motel either.

    Now for a reward trip, I guess it’s a little more understandable for them to have people share rooms. But I would still probably opt out of the trip. I am just not a room sharer. Maybe the reason they do this is because of the cliques, to give people an opportunity to make friends with people they normally wouldn’t? But, yeah- not normal.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      To me it makes *less* sense to share rooms on a reward trip. I wouldn’t consider that a reward at all. (Though I understand this is my own personal context and not how things happen in the LW’s world.)

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Same. I need a lot of alone time to properly relax, and if I don’t get that I become grumpy and negative pretty quickly. And if on top of that I’d have to spend all night with a person I don’t mesh with, well, that wouldn’t exactly improve matters…

        Honestly, this rather sounds like a recipe for “how to make absolutely certain that [Dynein] will be pissed and in a lousy mood all weekend long. Really a great basis for team building. /s

      2. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I’d also consider this a punishment as I hate having people in my bedroom and can count very quickly the number of people I’d be happy sharing with (none of whom are my colleagues). I need space and privacy to sleep.

        I’m also not the sort of person who likes spending a lot of time with my colleagues. My idea of a holiday involves not having to spend time with my colleagues.

  22. michelenyc*

    A company that worked for in the early 2000’s made us share rooms so that everyone in our department could go. Not everyone needed to go. I HATED it so much. They could absolutely afford for us not to share but they were cheap. 3 days of misery.

  23. Anythingisbetterthanthis*

    This is quite odd, if they can afford to take this many people on vacation, they can afford individual rooms, or at least restructure the trip to accommodate that.

    I also work in academia, and I budget for single occupancy rooms for myself and any colleague that has to join me on a conference or work related trip (or AirBnB with individual bedrooms). There might not be as much money to throw around, but preserving sanity in the workplace is more important than people think!

  24. Ruthie*

    My career is in nonprofit comms and the only time I’ve shared a room is when we traveled on a specific grant with a number of families helping us with a PSA and any money we had left over, we got to spend on the kids. So we pinched pennies to bring them to an amusement park! In that case it was the impacted employees insisting on doubling up to save money, but I would be livid if it was expected of me in any other circumstance.

  25. ArtK*

    I think the last time I shared a hotel room was in college, on band trips. No money for individual rooms (and really, 250+ rooms?) Folks were allowed to put in roommate preferences, but roommates were assigned by management. I would not ever want to do a business trip that way.

  26. librarian*

    To expand on the idea that this happens in academia: one common way this happens is that you get a fixed amount of money per year to apply to travel, hotels, registration, etc and you decide how many conferences you go to. Sharing a hotel room with colleagues or even strangers attending the conference is one way to stretch that money before you start paying out of pocket. I have roomed with tons of my colleagues at this point (including my manager, who is delightful) but always with a choice of whether and with whom. I’ve been to a couple of conferences with essentially dorm lodging where the conference assigns you roommates, and that has been weird and uncomfortable but also significantly cheaper.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      And it’s up to you to decide to share a room and if you want to share, it’s up to you to decide who the roommate will be. Nobody has ever assigned me a roommate ever.

      1. librarian*

        I agree! Sorry, forgot to add that what’s described in the letter isn’t normal and sounds very camp-like and uncomfortable. Was just pushing back on the idea that “it sounds weird but it happens in academia” without some context/clarification.

  27. CatCat*

    I would have done this when I was younger not because I was okay with it, but because I would not have realized it was not normal (especially if the company acted like it was normal) even if it made me uncomfortable.

  28. Ray Gillette*

    I work for a tiny company and the only time I’ve shared a room on a work trip was a situation where we were attending a very large event with limited hotel space available so all hotels near the venue got booked extremely quickly. The company reserved as many rooms as they could, but they got snapped up so quickly that some of us had to double up out of necessity. Every other travel situation where this wasn’t a rare necessity, we got our own rooms. It’s just the cost of doing business.

  29. Uhdrea*

    When I worked at a nonprofit, I had to share a head with a high up member of leadership and it was truly one of the most uncomfortable weeks of my life and I would never, ever do it again.

    1. Uhdrea*

      *Bed, though at that place I imagine they would have preferred the admin staff be able to read leaderships’ minds.

    2. Tuesday*

      Especially with someone in leadership – so weird. I would want to be like, “how about I just crawl into the closet here for some privacy.” Someone suggested I share a room with my assistant director right after I started work, but fortunately, she said no way, we’re getting our own rooms. I was so relieved.

  30. A Poster Has No Name*

    My company has employees share rooms for the national sales meeting every year (when they’re in person, of course), but you can pair up if you have someone to pair up with, otherwise you get randomly assigned (by gender, obviously). That’s enough people that I can kind of understand why they need to do it, but it does not always work well, and I’m so very glad I’m not in a position where I’m ever likely to go to one of these sales meetings.

    Stories of roommates coming back with other employees for, uh, extracurricular activities and whatnot and I just couldn’t even. Nope nopity nope.

    1. DyneinWalking*

      All the commenters who say that this could be a way to keep cliques apart etc are glossing over the fact that people who insist of spending time together will still spend time together, only now they’ll be disturbing other people’s privacy while doing so.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        I can see it being an attempt by managers to TRY and keep cliques apart and it ending up not working out like that!

  31. AnonAnon*

    The only time I ever have to share a room is when I volunteer at a summer camp. We share a tent and I get to pick my tentmate. But there isn’t much privacy at camp anyway so it is par for the course!

    Someone else I know had to share a hotel with co-workers for their annual meeting. It was a national company with many offices. The worst part…they didn’t know who their roommate was going to be until they got there. And it was usually someone they had never met before.

  32. 867-5309*

    I shared a bed – you read the right – a bed with a coworker in a past job. The three women traveling were assigned one room with two beds and because it was a smaller room in NYC they could not fit a cot. I cannot believe I ever let that happen.

    1. Anon for this*

      I knew someone who was sent to a convention and had to share a room with her MALE boss becauseof a reservations cockup…and learned later he let people assume they were involved. So maybe not so unintentional?

      1. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Once, when I was chaperoning a multi-school trip, we were randomly paired to share rooms with chaperones from other schools. Imagine my delight when I was paired with a former colleague and good friend. Imagine my horror when I realized that she was switching off chaperoning duties half way through the weekend with my (male) ex. Luckily, the not so great same gender roommates only rule paid off and the organizers found ex another room before anything got horrible (and without either of us having to confess to the relationship part).

  33. Ann O'Nemity*

    In most situations, it’s not normal to ask employees to share rooms. In some sectors like academia and nonprofits, it can happen, but I’d argue that it shouldn’t! And I hope employees under those policies can push back and point out all the ways the arrangement sucks.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      In academia here. When I’ve been asked to travel for work, they pay for the whole thing and there are no roommates. When I go on conferences, you get a lump sum usually. Many of us will often make arrangements with friends or colleagues to share rooms because that money only goes so far, but nobody has yet told me that I have to share a room and/or who I am sharing that room with.

  34. SaffyTaffy*

    Yes, this is normal in many parts of Asia, where employers have much more say in employees’ personal lives.

  35. Laird Angus McAngus*

    I think the only weird part about this is the not announcing roommates until they got there.

    I used to work for an accounting firm in the US and they’d take us on a retreat every year in May after our busy season ended. It was pure fun – golfing, tennis, swimming, and plenty of partying (most of us were in our 20s at the time). No meetings or team building or any fake work stuff. We rented huge beach houses that slept 12-16 people and we all had to bunk up. They assigned roommates based on age, seniority, etc, but we knew ahead of time who was sharing a room and who else was in our houses. Not everyone was always thrilled, but you could either try to swap or just not go if it was that big of an issue. There were no repercussions for skipping – people did sometimes, if they had young kids at home or other personal commitments.

    When it’s purely a fun vacation trip that work is paying for, I think expecting single rooms is excessive. For a real business trip where work being is conducted, I’d expect a single room.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Agreed. As a data point, I used to work at a law firm which wasn’t stingey at all about business travel. On a work trip, people might eat better and sleep in a larger hotel room than their flats at home.
      But for the vacationy trips (skiing in March and a football tournament in the summer), it was quite different and people did share rooms. To be fair, such trips truly were opt-in.

  36. Frally*

    Sharing a room with anyone not in my immediate family, close friend or not, would be my idea of hell.

  37. archaeologist*

    Whenever there’s a question about hotels and coworkers as roommates, I have flashbacks to my first job out of college for a contract archaeology firm. We lived in a hotel for almost 6 months, with rotating crew members at times. I’ll never forget when a new male coworker joined the crew and got assigned to the empty bed in my room. I’d never met him and no one asked if I, a 21 year old female, was OK sharing my space with an older, unknown male. In fact the only comment I got from my crew chief was “your boyfriend won’t mind right?” Uhhh, maybe I might mind? It turned out fine and only lasted for a few weeks — honestly I think it was harder on the guy because I was much too cheerful in the morning for him. But it should have been more of a red flag for me of how dysfunctional that job was. :(

  38. Barbara Eyiuche*

    Thailand, in a company where the employees are expats in their 20s? This is normal there. When I worked at a school in South Korea, the owner took staff and students on a vacation, and I had to room with a group of high school students. There was a lot of bitter complaints because I snored. If I had to do it again, I would insist on a private room, but be willing to pay for it myself.

  39. evad_mail*

    I work in non-profits and it’s still very normal for people to have to share rooms for work travel. I hate it, but it’s really a budgetary limit. No one is ever FORCED to go on a conference, so I always view it as an acceptable downside to an otherwise amazing opportunity. There is one work “retreat” that I attend annually where partners from around the country go to a single location (usually the university partner) for a long weekend. On this trip, the university partner puts everyone up into rooms with pre-assigned roommates. They give you the option to ask for a roommate or be assigned one at random. And they give you the option to pay for your own private room if you want. As much as I hate sharing a room with a random colleague, I don’t have it in my work budget to spring for an extra room so I just accept it. But I hate it very much and it makes me want to not attend the event, if I’m being honest.

  40. MissDisplaced*

    I find this arrangement really odd, unless the rooms were adjoining or something (like two bedrooms with a shared bathroom). Sometimes sure, you may have to share a room with your coworkers due to unforeseen things like inclement weather, cancelled flights, etc., but it’s not all that common.
    If this was vacation, I don’t think I would’ve gone if I had to share a room like this. At the very least, they should have told people that was a condition of the trip.

  41. Madeleine Matilda*

    I read through the comments and have a different take. First of all most of the comments are about sharing the room (which I would hate). I don’t think this was OP’s issue. OP writes “I assumed that people would choose their own friends to share a hotel room with.” Based on that I assumed OP was fine with sharing a room with a work friend of OP’s choice, but not being randomly assigned a room with a co-worker. Several people in the comments above have stated that sharing rooms on work trips is commonplace in Thailand.

    I think the company assigned people because OP said that there were cliques in the company: “At this workplace, there was a culture of people being close friends with their coworkers and regularly socializing outside of work, and there were definitely cliques.” By assigning roommates the company may have thought it would avoid the people in a clique from all rooming together and excluding others. Or the company may have wanted people to get to know colleagues outside of their clique.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      I agree with this. I get that this sort of thing is pretty much most commenters’ nightmare, but it seems to me like this company has a culture (large group of young expats in Thailand) in which people are much closer to their colleagues than the AAM standard. That’s not a bad thing IMO, just a natural consequence of people bonding while working abroad. It also sounds like this was an optional trip that people were free to opt out of if they wanted to and that the shared rooms were not a surprise, just the assigned roommates, which there may have been reasons for.

      So while the company could have done a better job of informing people of the assignment situation so they could opt out if it was going to be a huge problem or figure out a swap, I guess I don’t have an issue with it in principle. (But then again, damn straight I’d room with my least favourite work colleague for an all-expenses-paid long weekend in Thailand, lol, so maybe I’m biased…)

    2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      +1 this was my take also, it’s a fun trip but company paid for so company lays down its marker too.

  42. Archaeopteryx*

    Horrendous and I would rather opt out than get a great trip with an assigned colleague roommate. It would literally be the only thing on my mind the whole time. What if they snore? What if I get GI issues or a heavy period? What if I want to call my husband and have some privacy to talk to him? What if the roommate is someone cliquey or high schoolish who subtly acts like they’re better than me? What if I need a bath or shower to unwind before bed but they want to go to sleep right away?

    In college I once had a roommate who stayed up all night every night doing ooey gooey baby talk on the phone with her boyfriend. On religious retreats I’ve hat a roommate who had night terrors and did loud yipping- all night. (She was nice but that doesn’t mean I was able to sleep any better!) Those days are long behind me and if you’re not married to me and/or not a cat, stay outta my room.

  43. JJJBB*

    This was common when I worked for a pharmaceutical company. I was always roomed with my coworker in the same territory. There was no choice except our other coworker, a man in his 60’s, was allowed his own room because he snored too loudly for anyone else to sleep in the same room.

  44. Sarah*

    This reminds me of the time I booked a 4 bedroom villa for 4 coworkers traveling to an event. The event was small, but in a location that could host huge events, so there was tons of hotel housing options. When my coworkers arrived, they called me because they had each been given their own villa. It took me a while to understand that, though I had booked and paid for one villa, the managing company had decided that their each needed their own, four bedroom villa. They decided to move in together to one coworker’s villa and I never got charged for the other three.

  45. BigRedGum*

    I used to work for a very popular and expensive bath bomb company. I had to share a room with my boss. She slept naked, had a 3 some with a couple she’d met on the casino floor (of course we were in Vegas) in their room, thankfully. She also came in to the room so drunk that she threw up all over the bathroom floor & didn’t clean it up. awesome.

    Same company also randomly assigned all of us roommates. Gender did not matter. They just tried to keep us zen during the day and drunk all night. The only thing i miss was the silent disco party.

  46. Me*

    Our employer does a training for its employees and partners (so folks paid by our employer but not actual employees) each year. It’s a two day event, and some folks stay two nights because they’re traveling from across the region.

    The event venue is a regional park and the park has a bunch of cabins for sleeping and an event building for meetings and meals. It’s all very camp-like.

    The cabins have dorm-like bathrooms. Each bedroom sleeps two people in two separate twin beds.

    I either decline to go or only go for a day trip. I went once when my kids were small and it was a toss up as to whether the accommodations were worth a night away from my kids. I would never sleep there again. I prefer comfy and private accommodations. Nope nope nope.

    All other travel with my employer includes individual hotel rooms.

  47. AcademickChick*

    FYI: Not abnormal to be assigned an anonymous roommate from anywhere in the world for academic conferences where single rooms are either non existing because of the venue or limited (either in number or in terms of availability given the pay involved).

    I shared rooms with strangers until I was 40 and decided that was the end of it and I would pay for a single room from then on.

    I’m an introvert and don’t like meeting strangers in general, but I’ve had some unexpected and pleasant encounters/got to know new people this way.

  48. eshrai*

    During the Great Recession (actually just post-recession), I couldn’t find a job (recent graduate of course) and took a terrible job that ended up being a barely legal pyramid scheme door-to-door sales job. The worst. Anyway, they sent us to various towns, four girls, four guys. One hotel room per gender. We didn’t just share rooms, we had to share beds. Ugh. And only the cheapest motels they could find in each town. Often unsafe areas. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right? I ended up quitting and moving in with relatives rather than continue with that.

  49. Lizy*

    How would I push back on a company that assumes you’ll have a roommate, and when you say “single room, please!” they want you to pay for it?

    It came up this past year, but everything was cancelled because COVID, but it may come up again this year or next. IMO, it’s a business expense, and the company should pay for it, but I’m not sure the best way to go about that…

  50. Girasol*

    Sounds like a terrible way to pass illnesses around. I know OP said “awhile back,” so I assume this is pre-covid, but it’s not wonderful to pass colds and flu around either. So many people feel obligated to attend mandatory work functions when they’re ill and contagious but not quite bedridden. It’s bad enough to be in an office or conference room with them; a stuffy hotel room or worse, a bed, would be awful. A lot of people either have immune issues or go home to someone who has. This just seems like a really bad idea.

  51. dedicated1776*

    When I was first out of college, my job required extensive travel and we shared rooms. But it wasn’t just the young/low level people. When the only women on the team were me and the female partner, we shared a room. (When I left after a few years, they were starting to write their contracts to allow for single occupancy.) When there was an odd number of one gender, the partner of that gender usually did room key roulette so that it wasn’t always the partner getting their own room.

    Anyway, back to this particular letter. I wonder if they justified it as “mixing up the cliques” or “trying not to leave anyone out” (like being picked last for a team).

  52. Dark Macadamia*

    The one time I’ve traveled for work we knew in advance that they were assigning roommates but found out who by checking a list when we arrived. It was a lot of different branches and I thought it was weird that they didn’t at least group people by location, but maybe they thought a total stranger would be preferable to a coworker? My roommate stepped out to take a phone call around 10pm one night and didn’t come back for a couple days! Her stuff was still in the room and people were asking me if I knew where she went… I think she’d had to deal with a family emergency of some kind but it was very awkward. At least I got the room to myself for awhile!

  53. Anon Lawyer*

    I’m going to pose a hypothetical which is that most of the people finding this to be a deal breaker probably wouldn’t end up in this situation in the first place – i.e., they probably wouldn’t have signed up to work with a group of young expats in a foreign country and then travel with them on the weekends voluntarily, paid for by the company or no. I think within that specific context it’s still better to let people choose their roommates but also nowhere near as weird as a lot of comments are suggesting.

    1. me*

      100% agree. Many people choose to live abroad in situations exactly like this because they’re okay being outside of their comfort zone for extended periods of time, and specifically because of the means and ability to travel in a way that’s difficult if you were based in your home country. An all-expense-paid trip can be a really nice addition to a compensation package in this situation, even if you do have to share a room with a coworker.

    2. Sarah*

      I couldn’t disagree more. I have spent much of my career internationally, and I will never share a room with a colleague. One has nothing to do with the other- AT ALL!

  54. Maylane*

    Maybe they thought it was OK because it was meant to be a non-compulsory vacation? A fair while back I worked for a conference company in NYC that got free rooms allotted to it (including suites) just for having the conference at that particular hotel. I got told I would be sharing a room with a particular (very nice) person and it made me so upset I quit—I was 23 I think—so I never had to actually do it. It really surprised me that anyone would think it was acceptable to expect someone to share a room with a colleague. It still does. I am pretty senior now and it would never occur to me to expect anyone that works with me to share a room.

  55. KRM*

    The only time my old job asked people to share rooms on the company outing, it was a year where we hired more people than anticipated, and the resort we were staying at was actually sold out by the time they came on board. So they asked IF people could share and allowed them to pick with who. I wouldn’t be happy with a randomly assigned roommate in any situation, but especially a work one!

  56. Majnoona*

    I have worked at 3 universities and have never been asked to share a room. My single room was always paid for. Whenever this comes up Allison always mentions academia. I’m curious where in academia people are expected to share hotel roms

    1. Analog*

      When I was interviewing for grad school, universities would generally pay for our flights and hotels, but the hotel rooms were almost always shared with random fellow interviewees that we’d never met.

      I didn’t go to Gordon Research Conferences when I was doing my PhD, but some of my labmates did, and those are generally held at undergraduate colleges during breaks in the academic year, where the accommodations are the undergrad dorms (so often you will be sharing a double room with another attendee).

    2. HailRobonia*

      I used to organize a yearly department retreat for the university I worked at. The retreat was for faculty, postdocs, and grad students, all paid for by the department. The grad students and postdocs were assigned double-occupancy rooms and the faculty, of course, got singles.

      I dreaded the task of assigning rooms. On the sign-up form we let people select roommates (with the rule that each person had to request the other), and anyone without a roommate selected would be paired up according to gender.

    3. lil falafel wrap*

      I worked for a university-nonprofit partnership and once a year we had to travel to a big symposium, and because we were all grant funded and the program didn’t have enough money to pay for hotel rooms, we ended up bunking up. We were all in our early 20s, so that may have had something to do with it, but I think our supervisors (in their thirties; more established in their careers) also shared rooms.

  57. Hemingway*

    My dad worked for a very small company that shared rooms. He just could not do that, so he booked a really cheap hotel that was less than half of his room would be and always stayed there.

  58. Irish Reader*

    I’ve only had to share a room once in my years of business travel, but least it was with another female colleague I got very well with. At the time, we told in no uncertain terms that this was a cost saving measure. (of course, this company were always a bit stingy. They don’t exist anymore)
    We were entry-level tech support who were over in Germany to do product demos and Q&A. On that same trip, I remember the sales guys got their own rooms and the bigwigs had their own suites in a 5 star hotel in the city centre. I get that the bigwigs need to be at the right locations, but the optics still stank. Because the big guys want to be in Hotel FancéPants, the junior staff had to share rooms in a suburban pension. The savings from that would barely cover their dinners.

  59. WorkerBee*

    I once worked someplace where management tried to get staffers to double-up in hotel rooms. It wasn’t a requirement at all. I think some people wanted to pocket more of the per diem and make money off the deal. It was really tacky. Also, the organization very very clique-y and the last thing I wanted to do was end up rooming with the gossipy mean women.

  60. Suz*

    This reminded me of a work trip I took about 25 years ago. I’m female and was traveling with 3 male coworkers, 2 of whom I hadn’t met before the trip. We took an overnight train from Nanjing to Beijing and had to share a sleeping car. Awkward!

  61. pamplemousse*

    This sounds so similar to what I experienced teaching in Thailand that it makes me think the OP & I might have taught at the same school! (although I realize they didn’t say “school.”) I know this seems crazy to Americans in regular corporate jobs, but the trip was considered a big perk, and was highly anticipated by many of the expat employees. This was at a large private school in Thailand that employed 30 native English speaking expats, in addition to all the Thai nationality teachers. The trip was to the beach during a 4-day holiday weekend, and we always stayed at a 5-star resort, and were given very nice meals. At least one of the dinners was a fairly lavish seafood buffet. Roommates were announced at the airport, usually, as we departed. The stated reason for assigning them, rather than letting us choose, was that it would avoid having someone feel left out or excluded if there were a scramble to find your own roommate. If either gender had an odd number of attendees, the most senior person got their own room. I went on 5 of these trips over the years, and, while I wasn’t always besties with my assigned roommate, I have good memories of fancy resorts that I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to.

  62. Lauren Mohr*

    Oh this brings back memories. Bad memories.
    In the 1980-90s I worked for a global Fortune 100 computer company. We shared rooms for training and “reward” trips. It was NORMAL to arrive at a training location (sometimes a hotel, sometimes a conference center, sometimes “corporate” apartment housing — and told your room number. You would go to your room — and a complete stranger of the sex gender was assigned as your room mate. Not even a co-worker. A STRANGER that you had never seen before. You might be sharing a room with them for just a night, two nights or two weeks. It was NOT normal.

    One trip, I stayed at a hotel with 2 double beds. I turned in about 11; about 1am, my roommate came in WITH A MALE. I sat up in bed, asked what the **** did she think she was doing. She left and did not return until the morning. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to toss her out!

    A few years later, they finally changed their policy.

    No, it is not normal to room with a stranger.

  63. Jules the First*

    I’m based in the UK but working in arts and it’s always been the case that for business travel (to meetings and conferences etc) you get your own room, but company-funded weekends away (for fun and/or bonding, for example, the weekend we took the whole office to Berlin to sightsee and party), you share. We typically assign roommates so there’s no cliqueness, but do try to avoid pairing people of different seniority. The reality is that you are spending all day with your coworkers anyway, and I have some lovely memories from those trips.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, well, spending all day with coworkers, and then not being able to relax alone in my room afterwards would make me nope right out of the trip.

      1. UKDancer*

        Ditto. I’m very much reminded of the interview I had for a multinational financial firm when I was a student. One of the “inducements” they offered was the fact that there were regular annual breaks for the trainees and staff where they were taken places to spend a holiday together. This was treated as a major perk.

        I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a holiday with my colleagues and it was pretty apparent early on that I was not the type of person they wanted. My idea of a perfect holiday involves going somewhere warm with a really good spa and restaurant, taking a lot of books and sitting there and reading them and not having to talk to people unless I wanted to.

  64. Nethwen*

    In the late ’90s, I did a week-long senate page volunteer gig where we stayed with host families. The rule for host families was that if two pages stayed with them and the pages were boys, the family had to provide two beds (they could be in the same room). If the two pages were girls, they could share a bed. That made absolutely no sense to me.

    1. allathian*

      It’s just paternalistic nonsense.

      Boys are tough and can’t be allowed to touch each other unintentionally, and intentional touches are limited in scope. Hitting is understandable if not acceptable, but hugs are only permitted on the football field after a field goal. Girls are touchy-feely and it’s OK for two girls who like each other to hug, so sharing a bed is not a problem. /s

  65. radiant peach*

    I work in one of those industries where it would not be unusual to share a room with a coworker and when I was just starting grad school, a lot of us decided to carpool to a conference we were encouraged to attend in a city 4ish hours away. There was some professional development funding grants we could apply for through our institutions so to stretch the funding, many if not most of us decided not just to share rooms, but BEDS too – once again, this was a friendly group but most of us had met less than 2 months before, I don’t know what we were thinking.

    To this day, I have not told a soul that I woke up in the middle of the night to find that the person I shared a bed with (someone I always stayed friendly with but never got too close to) was sleeping with her hand on my waist. Lol, oops.

    1. Alison*

      I had to share a bed multiple times in grad school. Luckily after longer than two months but still, on every trip we went on we were sharing sleeping space. Ah to be young again.

  66. Not Driving*

    Yea, I wouldn’t be comfortable at all. Besides being trans and not easily assigned to a binary gender, I’m also from a very hot climate and grew up without air conditioning. Which means one thing I don’t do, to this day, is wear pajamas to bed. I’m very accustomed to them being not just unnecessary, but downright uncomfortable, because anything more than a thin blanket sucks in a heat wave. Since that’s my means of getting comfortable for bed, even in colder climates or snow, I pile on blankets instead of putting clothes on. Snow camping is, like, the one time I actually sleep in clothing, and that’s out of necessity rather than preference. Sleeping in pajamas isn’t really comfortable for me, because I’m so accustomed to the sensation of blankets and sheets on bare skin and that being what sleeping feels like. Since I’m back to living in my hometown after a while living in other places, this habit is being reinforced, as I’m back to that same hot weather and lack of air conditioning. Naturally, this being the case, I am not at all comfortable with the idea of sharing a sleeping space with a coworker or, worse yet, a manager. They don’t need to see that, and I don’t want them to, and I also don’t want to sleep less comfortably because I’m wearing clothes for others’ comfort. It’s just not a great situation all around.

    Also I snore very badly.

  67. HannahBanana*

    This is very, VERY normal for Thailand—a place where you’re expected to have a high level of closeness with your colleagues. Source: I’m an expat currently living here. And this exact situation has happened to me multiple times.

  68. joys of unisex names....*

    Many years ago (15-20 years ago now), I went to an education event for my union -which is for many different professions but who are all government employees. It was being held at hotel for a weekend, and the union policy at that time was two people to a room–but since all of us were from different locals across the province, we couldn’t pick our roommates. I signed in at the hotel desk and asked what my roomies name is; mine is Stacy and I’m female. I was told my roommate’s name was Allison–I went to were the other union folks were waiting and I asked if Allison was there. And HE put up his hand. Obviously, the union didn’t ask for genders on the forms we filled out.

    Needless to say, we were not forced to room together. We each got our own room. About, oh, 6 or 7 years ago now, the union changed it’s policy and when you go to any union event, everyone gets their own room….

  69. Tamer of Dragonflies*

    On a side note, am I the only one that finds it crappy that this is part of their compensation? What happens if they can’t go? Is there a payout for the value of the trip or are they just S.O.L ?

    1. me*

      In the US? Yes, I would find it crappy if my salary was lower because the trip was considered part of my salary. I also probably wouldn’t like going on vacation with my American coworkers. I shared a room on one business trip once and afterward said that I needed my own room.

      As an American living in Southeast Asia? It’s a nice perk and I often enjoy spending time outside of work with my coworkers. An example: a friend of mine worked at a summer camp in central China where part of the compensation was a guided tour to the Terracotta Warriors over a weekend where the campers were elsewhere. Camp is obviously different from the work world, but it’s also more similar to the way many people approach work and work relationships in this situation than the way people approach work and work relationships in the US.

      1. Tamer of Dragonflies*

        Sokath, his eyes opened! …I now understand there’s a cultural difference here. My previous comment was made looking through the fog of slumber. Thank you for pointing this out.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Eh. Isn’t that how all benefits work? They are all technically part of your compensation. If you don’t have kids, you can’t take advantage of the company daycare. Does your employer offer a pay out of the cash value of day care and parental leave for childfree employee? I’ll bet they don’t. Noone’s reimbursing the people who don’t drink coffee or skip the office holiday party either.

      Look, I know this site leans highly introvert and pro-employee. I get it. But just because you personally won’t take advantage of a particular benefit or perk doesn’t mean it’s crappy.

  70. r*

    Yeah room sharing sucks. For me it was also an avenue for my coworkers to show their homophobia since I was always booked to share a room with a person of a different sex because I’m a lesbian and there were more men than women working there. It was like, I didn’t really care about the room arrangements but it was really petty to exclude and other me like that.

  71. Mountain Mams*

    I showed up to a work retreat where I had met no one but my boss. It was in a remote area, and several hundred kms drive through the mountains.
    I arrived to discover that I would be sharing a queen sized bed with a perfect stranger. It was awful. I snored at that point in my life. I tried to stay awake as much as possible…I hated it soooo much and was so angry to be put in that position…should have just got back in the car but I didn’t want to look like a jerk being new to the company.

  72. Tara*

    My old company had a work trip that required room sharing, but you got to pick who you shared with, as long as they’re the same gender. A guy I know was only room sharing level close with girls, so faked having night terrors to get a room by himself. Not a perfect solution, but a potential one if you’re one of a very small number who feels weird about it?

  73. Sun Tzu*

    “At this workplace, there was a culture of people being close friends with their coworkers”

    Red alert! Red alert!

  74. Good Vibes Steve*

    I’m going to go a bit against the grain here. I have shared hotel rooms with colleagues before, in multiple jobs, so the room sharing itself doesn’t strike me as odd. I did this in both non-profits and a large company, and not a particularly cash-strapped one either. This happened in particular when we had a large get-together (think over 100 people) and hotel rooms are the main cost.
    Not being able to pick your roommate is unusual for sure, but the room sharing is quite typical in my experience.

  75. I'm just here for the cats*

    Even in High School they didn’t just randomly assign rooms to people for our class trip. We got to choose who we wanted to bunk with

  76. That's the One*

    I used to work for a Fortune 300 company in a very established industry. The company owned multiple properties that were used as retreats or for entertaining customers. My department went once/year as a retreat and every department went at least that often. I’m not sure how other departments did it, but we did not allow people to choose their roommates. As the one who organized it once, I totally understand why. It would have been a nightmare trying to accommodate everyone. We always tried to avoid rooming people with their supervisors and did our best to make it as painless as possible, but for the most part everyone hated that they couldn’t pick their roomie.

  77. Sarah*

    I will never work for a company whose policy is to share hotel rooms. Just a flat no. There was one time I agreed, but that was in the middle of a snow emergency and there weren’t enough rooms, so either we shared or someone didn’t get a room. That was fine and understandable. But not because a company is too cheap and doesn’t value me enough to get my own room.

    I was on forum where a small business owner was taking their team to Disney World for a company retreat and asking co-workers to share rooms. I responded that if I worked for them, I wouldn’t attend said retreat, and that if it was required, I’d quit. They should plan a trip somewhere cheaper and give everyone their own room. I was called entitled and ungrateful by the forum.

    Glad to read I am not alone in my thinkning.

    1. Dr Strangelove has nothing on Sarah*

      I was on forum where a small business owner was taking their team to Disney World for a company retreat and asking co-workers to share rooms. I responded that if I worked for them, I wouldn’t attend said retreat, and that if it was required, I’d quit. They should plan a trip somewhere cheaper and give everyone their own room. I was called entitled and ungrateful by the forum.

      …and understandably so, because you went nuclear on them when there was no need to. Does the idea of “a proportional response” ring a bell?

  78. MCMonkeybean*

    While sharing rooms at all is not ideal, if that is the situation than I actually thing assigning roommates is the route that will result in the least amount of work trip drama. The only thing I would say is that assignments should be made known earlier and if there were any special requests they could be made known privately ahead of time and then they could try to take them into account.

  79. Alison*

    I went to a conference for my job at a non-profit a few years ago. It was the first non-profit conference that was overnight that I had been to post graduate school. There were four of us attending, three folks in their early 30’s in the same place in their career and our executive director, a woman in her 60’s.

    The ED wanted to save as much money as possible and was going to have all three women sleep in the same hotel room, with two beds and a cot. I didn’t want to share a room with our ED and I didn’t get a long with the other woman very much (a much longer story). Anyway, I asked if I could just share a room with my male collogue, who was going to have an empty bed in his room, and who I had shared a small office with for three years. He as ok with it, I was ok with it. It was approved and I spent a lovely three days hardly ever seeing him in the room because our scheduled workshops were different. It was definitely less weird to share a room with him than our ED and no one had to sleep on a cot. The end.

  80. Eletha*

    I’ve been allocated a roommate for a work-related hotel stay before. It was a small conference and I was helping to host out-of-town delegates. Our firm’s headquarters were in the rural town where I lived but we had branches across the country from firms we’d absorbed over the years. The hotel was not a business hotel; it was chiefly used for wedding receptions and hence had very few single rooms. I had the choice of sharing with roommate or travelling back and forth from home.

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