Can you hear me now?

Working from Barnes & Noble after a late night dealing with hotel Internet issues

The La Quinta Inn in Baton Rouge may have been the 5th hotel of our epic road trip, but it was no villa. It was also not a good place to work.

When we arrived at the hotel Wednesday night, I set up my mobile office with hopes of getting in a couple hours of work before calling it a night and then getting an early start Thursday morning. La Quinta had other plans for me.

First, I realized the desk in our room was pushed up against the wall for a reason. Two of the 4 table legs were broken loose from the table top. Positions just right and up against the wall, the desk stayed standing.

Then I tried to go online. I could connect to the hotel wireless access point but could not connect to the Internet from there. The advertised "free high-speed Internet access" was a major influencer in our selection of this hotel. Given that I was attempting to work while traveling, I considered good Internet access to be more important as a comfortable bed. I was not happy with the lack of connectivity.

I called the tech support number on a card in the room and reported that I had no connectivity. After some basic troubleshooting, the representative on the other end of the line told me that there was a known issue with the connection between that hotel and the rest of the Internet.  They take my number and offer to call me back shortly.

In the process of troubleshooting, we also discover that the phone in the room doesn't work.

I then called the front desk and asked about the Internet outage. They tell me they knew nothing about any connectivity problems. Concerned about the lack of phone service in the room, they send a security guard to check out the room.

The security guard comes to our room and looks around. He also checks the phone and boxes that appear to be a DSL model and wireless access point. The security guard informs me that each room has its own wireless access point. He offers to try to find a room with a working connection.

Tech support calls me back and walks me through additional troubleshooting.

The security guard returns an reports on room numbers that have access. He says he'll see if we can be switched to another room.

After more calls and more troubleshooting and the passage of a couple hours, I tell the tech support people that I'm calling it a night. I put the "do not disturb" hanger on the door.

Instead of getting in a couple hours of work, I spent my night troubleshooting what was likely faulty networking hardware in my room. Instead of offering me a new room or compensation for the lack of Internet service, the hotel's night clerk did nothing (that I could see) to resolve the problem. The only one who seemed to care was the security guard.

Given than hotels usually want us out by late morning, my plan for travel days had been to start my work days early each morning and then relocate to some place to finish out my work day. It was working day two of our road trip and this was already becoming to be more challenging than I had anticipated.

Having given up on working from the hotel, we quickly packed up and set off in search of a new workplace Thursday morning. We found a Barnes & Nobel bookstore that provided a good enough place to work. The quality of the Internet connection varied greatly throughout the day, sometimes forcing me to use my Verizon Wireless service rather than the bookstore's WiFi.. This wasn't ideal, but was good enough.

This experience taught me to identify non-hotel workplace options in case hotels failed to provide a suitable workplace with satisfactory connectivity. Going forward, I would seek to identify places with connectivity from which I might work: coffee shops, public libraries, bookstores, and places with WiFi hotspots from my home Internet provider. I also realized that I might need to use my in-case-all-else-fails  Verizon Wireless data service more than planned.