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The Quest for an Adequate Business Travel Experience

...Business travel is a form of triage, a never-ending quest for the least objectionable. Rarely do those of us who travel for our companies need to find the best hotel in an area, or a meal that will change our lives. That's what vacations are for. Touching down in city after city, our primary goal is to escape unscathed.

I'm not complaining. I love traveling around the country (and beyond) to make a living. Everywhere I visit has something gloriously unique to recommend it. But because I'm there for a purpose, I'll gladly sacrifice a potential upside in order to decrease my chances of suffering through inedible food, paper-thin walls or a four-hour delay on the tarmac. My time and productivity are just too important to me.

That's why I scour websites that harness the power of crowds to render opinions. Such methodology tends to push scores toward the middle, rewarding fundamental competence rather than innovation or style. But that's fine. I'm not looking for the Taj Mahal.

I haven't booked a hotel room in the past five years without scanning Trip-Advisor reviews first. (That's even true for hotels I stay at often. If recent guests have had issues, I want to know about them.) I also eat few meals on the road without at least a quick check of the Yelp ratings for the area. That's me sitting in the parking lot of a strip mall, punching up the app on my iPhone before deciding whether to go inside...