This wasn’t the first time our safety team had traveled to attend a safety conference. In fact, it was a nice perk that went along with being part of a work group whose sole mission was to help keep coworkers safe. The conference organizers chose a different U.S. city each year in which to host the event, from Nashville to Dallas to San Antonio to Chicago. This time, we would be attending the conference in Orlando, Florida. For whatever reason, the conference always happened to fall on the same weekend as the first round of the NCAA national basketball tournament, AKA “March Madness.” Moreover, the flood of travelers reminded me that it was not only Spring Break for a lot of families but it was also the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, professional golf’s tour stop held at Orlando’s Bay Hill Country Club every year. All in all, there were a lot of reasons to be out and about in Orlando that week. But we had a job to do, and that was to represent our site at the Best Practices showcase as well as attend safety seminars to gather information that we could take back home. Regardless, it was still nice to see the city of Orlando operate with a plethora of visitors yearning for recreation and entertainment. For us, these trips included getting wined and dined on the company dime for a few days.
The Hyatt Regency in Orlando was impressive, though it didn’t surprise me that there would be nice resort-style hotels in a tourist city like Orlando, nor did it surprise me that the conference would be held at such a high-profile venue. With every work trip, I never lost sight of how blessed I felt to attend events like these over the years, events that could not have been cheap to the company. When factoring in airfare, a rental vehicle, hotel rates, food, drinks, and the price of admission to the conference, there was no way I could ever participate in something like this on my own. Fortunately for us, the company credit card would cover all expenses in the name of safety. From alcohol to room service, as long as we didn’t go overboard (and even the few times we did), the company would not question the expense. We each had our own room, the type that would be expected of one bearing the Hyatt name, along with a few extra details that set them apart from other fancy hotels.
One example was the fogless mirror that had its own circular vanity light with a TV installed into a semi-transparent insert. Another was the motion activated nightlight that guided a sleepy walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There was a 24-hour diner onsite, a few restaurants and bars, a pool and a gym with all associated amenities, and we were a block away from an entertainment district that had even more selections. Somehow, I was given access to all of this without spending a dime. This alone would have made the trip was of the luckiest I had ever been a part of, but I was about to discover that my world-class lodging was just the tip of the iceberg.