The majority of our mock jury research is conducted in hotel conference space, or occasionally, a market research facility. Whether or not travel with overnight stays is involved, we conduct mock juries and focus groups in all sorts of venues. Some of these conference rooms are first class grand ballrooms, others are musty meeting rooms in “has been” motels. The common denominator is lots of space, often stale air, it is too hot or too cold, and of course, the mock jurors and clients. Inevitably, someone has a cold. Therefore, over the years, we have noted that a research day carries a risk of catching that cold ourselves. Add in a flight in a confined aluminum tube and the chances increase further. Regardless of the fact that much of our work involves these conditions and being surrounded by strangers (mock jurors), any business or leisure travel carries these risks. So, we have learned to be cognizant of ways to dodge the germs as much as possible, despite the unavoidable part of the job – being in these places. This involves taking a few extra steps to (try to) ward off the cold or illness. Some of these are old fashioned – like chicken soup (or wonton soup with chicken broth) upon returning home. Others are more “modern” by using over the counter items like “Airborne” – essentially a multi-vitamin or other similar remedy. And, to combat the stale, musty smell in hotel sleeping rooms, the use of travel candles can improve the experience. Of course, hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers helps too. But, the point of all of this is, taking care of ourselves, and trying to avoid getting sick, is part of meeting our clients’ needs. We can’t afford the downtime of being sick when a trial date is looming. This point has to be taught to new employees who have yet to learn the travails of life on the road.
The original title of this post was “candles and hotel sickness.” David broadened the topic by including other remedies for what we have labeled “hotel sickness,” but I will limit my remarks to the benefits of travel candles. A dear friend of mine, Margie, is married to a wonderful man who, like me, travels frequently as part of his job. I was lamenting to Margie that I get tired of staying in hotel after hotel, particularly because the rooms smell musty, or like disinfectant, or they have another unpleasant odor. (I have been traveling for work long enough to remember the days when most hotel rooms reeked of cigarette smoke; thankfully, those days are over!) I am a person for whom smells are important in their effect on my overall mood and well being and there is nothing much worse for me than to walk into a stinky hotel room after a long and stressful travel or research day. Upon hearing my complaint, Margie told me the simple solution her husband employs: He takes a small scented travel candle, along with a lighter, and immediately lights the candle upon entering his hotel room. Not only does it rid the air of whatever unpleasant odor that happens to be present, the candle adds a touch of home in whatever faraway location he is located. Over the years, I have modified this excellent suggestion to include travel incense as well as a travel candle. Soon after the candle or the incense are lit and my hotel room begins to smell nice, I am instantly “cured” of hotel sickness. Hats off to Margie for providing me with years of candle related attitude adjustment!