So, earlier in the week, I was surprised to get a request from Boss3's assistant to hie myself over to a particular hotel and inspect their meeting rooms, take pictures and send them on for Boss3's final approval. With Apple's preferred hotel full up, she had had to come up with an alternative and hit on this one, that did have room for 30 guests and boasted about having state-of-the-art meeting rooms available too, although unfortunately there were no pictures of the latter on the Internet.
I duly set up a meeting with the hotel's event manager, took my pictures and expected to hear nothing more about it. Until late yesterday afternoon when Boss3's assistant got in touch again to say that Boss3 had rejected the meeting room as unsuitable on the basis of my pics, and would I mind getting in touch with the Marriott and do the same thing there? She said they were now reconciled to staying at the first hotel (30 minutes walk from the office), but were hoping the Marriott's meeting rooms (only 5 minutes walk away) would be more in line with the standard Apple's upper management are used to.
First thing this morning then, I met with a slick and eager young sales executive at the Marriott, and although I thought I'd made it clear that I was really only interested in seeing the meeting rooms, he couldn't resist giving me his sales pitch and asked whether -subject to availability- we would be open to receiving a quote for both meeting room and guest accommodation. He would cut us a very competitive deal, he said...and I said, sure!
I must admit, I was very impressed with what the hotel had to offer. The meeting rooms and other facilities were way better than the ones I'd seen at the other hotel, and so were the catering options. I'd have been happy to endorse the Marriott to Boss3 there and then, but R. hadn't reached the end of his charm offensive yet. He asked whether I had had breakfast yet, and when I said I hadn't, asked if I would do him the honour. I couldn't really see how I could politely decline, and ended up having some fresh fruit (slices of grapefruit and melon, mango and dried strawberries), a jam donut and a cup of coffee while he tucked into the smoked salmon, feeling slightly uncomfortable throughout because a) could this be construed as a bribe? and b) he kept asking me questions I didn't know the answer to, as I am not on Apple's travel desk.
Finally, he told me all about their award-winning steaks and invited me and a friend to sample them on the house!
Overwhelmed by all this generosity, I made my escape, sent a favourable report and a few pics to Boss3's assistant - and got an unpleasant surprise when a few hours later, Boss3 himself ordered me to go back there because he wanted video, not pics! I called R., who told me he was hard at work on finalising his quote, and agreed to let me video the meeting rooms -- and so 6 o'clock saw me back at the hotel. I felt so silly but R. didn't seem at all put out. He let me know how eager he was to secure our business and repeated his dinner invitation...which I've taken him up on. Sept. 15th I will dine in style and at no cost whatsoever as his guest at the Marriott, regardless of whether Boss3 decides to go with them or not.
What made me accept the offer of dinner? Well, I'm going to be out of a job in a month. I might as well have one last decent meal before penury hits.