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My first business trip

In March 1975 l joined the NAC Safety Department and found myself booked in for a meeting in Vancouver in June. So it was that I prepared for my very first business trip one weekend early in that month.

The big day came, a Saturday, and lo and behold, the Wellington weather was

atrocious. The airport was closed all day which meant I was unable to get to Auckland to connect with the flight to Los Angeles. My itinerary was amended over the phone and I was able to set off on the Sunday but it meant that I would have to fly straight on to Vancouver without the over-night stop in LA as planned. Luckily the weather improved, the airport re-opened and l was on my way. I recall being excited at being upgraded to First Class on the Air New Zealand DC10 and thought “I could take a lot of this sort of travel!” When I reached LAX I managed to find my way to the Canadian Pacific area and was soon on my way to Vancouver where I arrived sometime quite late, about 22:30 from memory.

I had made a booking at the 'Hotel Vancouver', easily the swishest hotel I had stayed in

up to that time but my heart sank when I got to the reception desk. They had no record of my booking! I was jet-lagged, tired, a long way from home, and all by myself! But the

bright young thing behind the desk said not to worry, they would find a room for me for

the night but I may have to change rooms the next day. Phew! What a relief! I was handed a key and told my room was on the top floor.

Hotel Vancouver - now called the Fairmont

The moment I stepped out of the lift I knew something was wrong. My room had two

doors! I chose one and went in. I could hardly see across to the other side of the room, it

was that big! I opened doors and found bedrooms, lounges, a couple of bathrooms and

a kitchen with a huge fridge stocked to the brim with booze! I was quite dazed. And then I spotted a notice on the back of one of the the exit doors. When I read it I was all of the above and scared stiff. The notice advised the room rate which was $€120 per night. In 1975 this was a very large sum of money. The reason for my latest emotion was that NAC paid expenses on a daily rate depending upon which country one was in, and this room was eating up most of my allowances for the whole week! But I was too whacked to discuss this with anyone at that time of night so I quickly went to bed.

But it was a total waste of time because I literally didn't sleep a wink all night and the

next morning I hot footed it down to Reception to explain my predicament. I was

immediately told not to worry because as the hotel had erred I would only be charged

the tariff for a standard room, and not that for the penthouse suite, which they hoped I

had enjoyed! (If only they knew!). I was obviously very green when it came to

understanding how hotels got around their mistakes.


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