Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roomshare Etiquette 101

As an organizer of our local dance community, Hudson Valley WCS, I often promote weekend dance events that I like to my group. With that comes the responsibility of helping people to find ride and room shares. I am very fortunate to have the assistance of another dancer, Jun Ogata with this monumental and sometimes thankless task. Matching personalities and personal needs and preferences takes some serious shuffling and patience!

There are many things to consider when sharing a room with others; it is good to be honest from the get-go about what works for you, what you can compromise on, and what just plain won't work for you. After all, we are going to these events to have a good time, so it really pays to make sure that you and your roommates are on the same page.

Below are some of the issues that you need to think about when sharing a room. You can print out the list at the bottom of this blog and give it to your roomshare organizer or, if you are doing your own coordinating, you can send it out to all your roomies to clarify things with them ahead of time. If you are a room coordinator, feel free to use this form for your group too. This list is *MY* point of view, gained from our experiences here and the stories I have heard from other coordinators - take it and make it your own!

He/She who books the room sets the tone of the room.

Most of the time the host hotel sells out weeks (or even months) ahead of time. So if you happen to be one of those people who does not plan ahead and you leave the booking of the room until it is too late, you should be thankful that someone had the foresight to book that room AND let you stay with them! So if they say no partying, or lights out at midnight, or they like the room cooler than you do, then abide by their rules, or get yourself a room at the overflow hotel. If you are the person who reserved the room, make it clear to everyone what you expect BEFORE the dance weekend, preferably in an email or other written notification so you can refer to it if there are any misunderstandings. 

Rooming Preferences.

If you prefer a uni-sex room, a bed to yourself, or a full room (to save money), be up front about that early on. Some people are ok with sharing a room and/or a bed with someone of the opposite sex, while others prefer same-sex roomies or fewer roommates. Also, if there is a particular person who you expressly do not want to room with (for whatever reason), put that out there early on too. If you are ok with sleeping on the floor, make that clear too - being flexible will certainly help you to get a space much easier.

Arrival/Departure time:

It helps to know who is arriving first so you can make sure they have a key  - if you can put everyone's name on the room (if you booked the room) it can save everyone a lot of frustration when they arrive as you don't have to scramble to find each other. However, some hotels charge if you have more than 2 people in a room, so check that out ahead of time.  If you need to stay over an extra day, check to see if anyone else is doing that ahead of time, so you can make arrangements for those days well ahead of time.

Committing to the room:  

If you have been offered a room space, it is only fair to give a definite yes or no answer. If you are a maybe, make it very clear that you cannot commit yet, and be prepared to lose your place in that room. Expecting someone to hold a space for you while you figure out your situation is just not fair to them. If you are the room holder and you may already have other roomies and you tell someone maybe, remember they are free to keep looking for a space until you give them a definite answer.

Also, if you have a change in your situation, and cannot go at the last minute, it is only fair that you try to help to find someone to take your place in that room. We had a situation here where there was a vague agreement (where the room holder misunderstood that the person was not fully committed) and the other person dropped out at the last minute (to room with someone else), leaving her high and dry and with the full cost of the room. Thankfully we managed to help her to get another roommate but the other person never offered to help find someone or to pay for her space. It left everyone with a very bad taste in their mouth and made for a lot of emails after with everyone getting more upset. If in doubt, clarify with each other exactly where you are at - it makes for a much nicer situation all around.

 Discuss anything that might cause an issue 
with your roommates ahead of time:

Some people have things they just cannot live with in a roomshare. Below are just a few of the issues that can cause problems in a room.

               Odors: There are many people who have a hyper sensitivity to ANY kind of smell or odor. Exposure to things like perfume, hair spray, strong shampoos, etc, can make them physically ill. Check with everyone before you douse yourself in Channel #5. To be honest, you should always err on the side of caution here anyway and go VERY lightly, if at all, with colognes. I passed one guy on in the hall once who REEKED of cologne -  and when we stepped in the elevator, we knew that he had been on that one...even *I* found it to be too much! I can only imagine what it was like to dance with him!

               Light and Noise: Some people cannot deal with light or noise when they sleep, while others can't sleep without the TV being on. Also, there are times that your roomates may just need some peace and quiet. If you must have quiet, try to find like-minded roomies. And for the rest of you, just try to be sensitive to others when they are sleeping. If people are sleeping when I come in (I'm one of those who often shuts the floor down) I put on the light in the bathroom and use a flashlight to find my stuff - which I usually set out before I go down dancing - so I hopefully don't disturb them.

               Temperature: I personally like a cooler room. I can't sleep if the room is over 68 degrees. Period. I was once in a room where someone joined us on a Sunday (after my roomies and I had been happily in our 67 degree room together for 3 nights) and started complaining about how cold it was. It made for some tension for the next 24 hrs. If I join a room and I have not made it clear that I need a cooler room before I join the room, I suck it up and live with the room temperature.

               Neatness: Some people are neatnicks - others like to spread out. If you are a tidy person and you can't stand a mess, make that clear to your prospective roommates. Better yet, everyone should just try to keep their clutter in their corner....when you have 3-5 people in a room, a *little* clutter soon looks like a bomb has gone off in the room!

                 Bathrooms: This is often one of the places where a lot of tension is created. People are often competing or doing specific workshops and need the bathroom to get ready. This is a 2-way street. The best thing is to plan ahead and perhaps shower a little earlier in the day, set out your make-up/clothes/etc to speed up your time in the facilities, and work out a schedule for the bathroom ahead of time with anyone else who is competing at the same time as you. However, remember that just because someone isn't competing doesn't mean that they don't have a right to use the shower when they want! A little pre-planning in this area can save a LOT of grief later! If you are a bathroom hog, and love 2 hr showers, remember that you are rooming with others, and try to plan your bubble bath for a time when everyone else is occupied with other things.

                Snoring/Nightmares: It really is only fair that if you snore, you let your roommates know it beforehand. There are plenty of people who also snore who will understand, and others (like me) who have an excellent set of ear plugs. Also, if you have nightmares on a frequent basis, let your roomies know so you don't scare the be-jesus out of them. We had a roomie one night who started calling out. It scared his bed-mate who was afraid to wake him in case he lashed out. When we got him to wake up, it actually ended up turning hysterically funny, but it could have set an odd mood over the room. Now that we know this about him, we know how to handle the situation if it arises again.

               Party People: Some people love to party on a weekend - others want a quiet space to retreat to when they leave the dance floor. Whenever possible, try to find roomates who are aligned with you in this area. If you are in a room where others in the room are not party people, take the party elsewhere....there are plenty of others who will share your desire to celebrate in their room :)

               Payment: If you are the one who booked the room and you want everyone to pay you cash, make sure you let them know ahead of time. There are many ways to sort this out - I personally like to put my share of the room on my card so I can keep track of my expenses better, and I'd rather that my roomies pay for their own part of the room rather than receiving cash, as it keeps all my expense tracking simpler.  If someone is set on cash payment, that room wouldn't work for me. 

             Once you are in the room: There are more things to sort out - which side of the bed you prefer to sleep on, food/alcohol sharing, etc. Be sure to have a quick meeting with your roomies to air any other issues that might come up as soon as you can once the weekend starts. It can save a lot of grief and hard feelings later!

Finally, if you are working with a Room Coordinator, 
KEEP THEM INFORMED of any arrangements you make on your own!

Roomshare coordinators often also help to book tables and coordinate rides for events. Let them know if you have your pass and/or if you are looking for a ride. The more people who have your info, the quicker everyone gets their needs met.Also, each has his or her own style -  some take on more responsibility for matching and some only put you in touch with possible matches. Find out their style so you can be clear about what your responsibilities are in each situation.

Room coordinating is an exhausting job. These people are doing their best to match not only "orphaned" dancers (those with no place to sleep) with those who had the foresight to book a room. They are usually trying to take everything they know about you (see above), and match you with a suitable rooming partner(s). If you find someone to room with on your own, let them know as soon as that is confirmed so they can take you off their list. And THANK THEM for their time. AND, ask them for a dance or buy them a drink when you see them at the weekend. Really.

Below is a "form" you can copy for your own use when rooming. 
Use it and change it as you will for coordinating rooms to suit your situation.


(Circle one)      I have a room and am looking for roommates

                          I am looking for someone to room with  

Age: (Can be generic)__________________    Sex: _________________________

Arrival Date/Time: _______________Departure Date/Time:________________

Room Preferences

 # of roommates:_____________

Sex of roommates: (Circle one)        Male        Female        Doesn't Matter

Age of roommates: (Circle one)       Around my age       Any age/doesn't matter

Sleeping Situation: (Circle all that apply)  

     I can share a bed     I prefer a bed to myself     I can sleep on the floor

     I am ok with sleeping with someone of the opposite sex

I prefer my room to be: (Circle all that apply)

     Quiet, low key       Some partying but not late at night        The Party Place!

I have the following special needs: (Circle all that apply)

     No perfumes or strong odors           No Lights/TV/noise while sleeping

     I need the TV on to sleep                 I prefer neat/tidy roommates

      I need a cool room to sleep             I need a warm room to sleep           

      I snore                                            I have nightmares                  

      I prefer non-smokers                       I cannot sleep with snorers

      I will be competing and will need cooperation around the bathroom right before comps

      I am not competing and am flexible around bathroom time

I would prefer to not room with the following people: 
(this info will be kept confidential)


I prefer to pay for my part of the room by: (Circle one)

      Cash                 Check                      Credit Card

**Thanks to CJ Henry and Jun Ogata (roomshare coordinators extraordinaire!) for their feedback in this post!!!