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Hotels Embracing Technology

»Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Hotels, Industry Postings, White Papers | 0 comments

From what I’ve been reading lately, it looks like the hotel industry is stepping up to the plate when it comes to implementing some of the emerging technologies into their business. Now I know my way around a computer quite well, but I’m not the most tech savvy person when it comes to all of these devices out there. However, even a novice techie will be able to benefit from some of these new technological enhancements being implemented by various hotels. As a Federal traveler, I recognize some of these hotel brands as participants in the FedRooms program so I know we will have the chance to experience some of these advancements in the near future. Travelers may have already encountered some of these. One example of this new technology is a new door lock...

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Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990

»Posted by on Jan 29, 2015 in Hotels | 0 comments

The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 (PL 101-391) was passed into law September 25, 1990, by Congress in an attempt to promote fire safety in hotels, motels, and other public accommodations, as well as, save lives and protect property. This law mandates that federal employees on official travel must stay in accommodations and hold federally funded meetings or conferences in properties that adhere to the requirements set forth in the legislation guidelines. Hotels must be in compliance of section 29 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 in its entirety as well as the amendments put forth as The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act, section 3. The amendment is applicable to all places of public accommodation and does not exempt properties built...

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Understanding Accounting

»Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Hotels, Industry Postings, Payment Methods | 0 comments

Billing is often the final step of the transactional process wherein vendors have the opportunity to frustrate, or even infuriate, the client. In the case of hotels, a traveler who made a reservation, checked in, stayed at a hotel without issue, and enjoyed a smooth checkout process is not entirely free of potential problems until the bill has been paid. To assist with the reconciliation process for Individually Billed Accounts (IBA), Centrally Billed Accounts (CBA), and Direct Billed Accounts, some elementary materials communicating a base-level expectation of the kind of billing and terms vendors should expect could prove useful. Particularly in heavily franchised industries, the dissemination of rudimentary information explaining proper invoicing could prove...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Jan 27, 2015 in Business Practices, Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms, formerly known as the Federal Premiere Lodging Program (FPLP), is the official Federal Government lodging program that will allow for substantial savings.  The FedRooms rate in comparison to “government” rates will always be at lower cost to matching prices, which creates a savings for your agency. The Government negotiates FedRooms rates while “government” rates are set by the vendor and are arbitrary. Other benefits of staying at a FedRooms hotel are the 4 p.m. (or later) day of arrival cancellation policy, no early departure fees or any other hidden fees.  Hotels that are approved by FEMA as fire safe hotels offer the Fedrooms rate. Book the FedRooms rate using either your E-Gov System, your travel management center (TMC) or online...

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Fed Rooms Lodging Program

»Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Hotels | 0 comments

Federal travelers often have a hard time finding a hotel within per diem to meet their official business needs.  Hotels may offer a “government” rate, a per diem rate, and now the new FedRooms rate.  Each hotel determines the “government” rate that may be higher than the specified per diem rate for the location and may have hidden fees or cancellation fees. FedRooms is the official government-wide lodging program, contracted through GSA to simplify the lodging process for federal travelers and save the government money.  Currently more than 5,000 hotels in more than 1,600 cities around the world participate in the FedRooms program.  If a traveler can’t find a hotel in the city they visit often, they may nominate a hotel by visiting the link on...

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PER DIEM

»Posted by on Jan 21, 2015 in Hotels, Industry Postings, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The General Service Administration (GSA) establishes per diem rates for the continental US, which are referred to as CONUS. The Department of State establishes rates outside the continental US, which are OCONUS. These are generally referred to as foreign. Per Diem rates are reviewed on an annual basis. A government traveler is eligible for per diem when they perform official travel away from their official duty station. The traveler must be in a travel status for more than 12 hours in order to be entitled to per diem. Lodging, meals, and incidental expenses make up the per diem allowance of a government traveler. The allowance is an amount that is allowed for each day. The travelers Temporary Duty (TDY) location determines the maximum per diem reimbursement...

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Global Distribution Systems (GDS)

»Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Airlines, Business Practices, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Rental Cars, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

How much do you know about the global distribution system (GDS) that is used by your E-Gov Travel System?  Maybe your E-Gov System uses Sabre, Galileo/Apollo, Worldspan or Amadeus.  Currently, these are the four major GDS systems. My agency chose an E-Gov Travel System that uses the GDS, Sabre. The GDS houses the necessary information that will allow travel agents to book and sell airline tickets, book hotel rooms, make rental car reservations, and reserve rail reservations and more. The first GDS, Sabre, was created by the airlines in the 1960s.  Sabre has been around a lot longer than its competitors; Amadeus was created in 1987, Worldspan in 1990 and Galileo/Apollo in 1993. These complex systems have numerous capabilities.  Besides what was previously...

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Fedrooms

»Posted by on Jan 17, 2015 in Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is the only official government-wide, government sponsored lodging program initiated and managed by GSA (General Services Administration) to outsource the government hotel program to a contractor.  This is in support of the President’s Management Agenda (to simplify end-to-end travel for the Federal employee).  FedRooms is a streamlined and efficient lodging program designed to bring significant government-wide savings.  FedRooms gives the government an opportunity to save $365 million dollars annually, saving the Treasury a possible $46,000,000.00. FedRooms is available to government travelers, and at no cost to the agency.  FedRooms is available to all federal and military employees as well. FedRooms is a lodging program that travelers are...

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DOD Lodging Programs

»Posted by on Jan 13, 2015 in Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The Department of Defense (DOD) has several different programs for lodging.  All of the programs produce savings to the tax payer. Lodging facilities listed in the Defense Travel System (DTS) are either part of the Federal Rooms Program, and/ or FEMA compliant hotels.  The hotels listed in DTS are provided to system users because of the cost savings to the government traveler.  The Federal Rooms Program and FEMA compliant hotels work well at saving the non-DOD travelers money, but even they do not provide the cost savings of the military lodging system.  The military lodging system is not currently used by DTS. The Joint Federal Travel Regulation (JFTR) requires uniformed service members ordered to a U.S. Installation (as opposed to a geographic location like...

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Some Thoughts On The GSA Hotel System and Airline Flights

»Posted by on Jan 7, 2015 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

First, the material does not note that some chains permit Government workers on personal travel to take advantage of Government rates. This is not so of all chains and you cannot use a Government credit card for such purposes. I suspect, that it works well for those chains that offer it as it creates a kind of brand loyalty and Government travelers are free to select the hotel they wish to use on Government travel. Second, the article does not note that per diem for a CONUS city is broken into two parts. The first part is for lodging, the second is for meals and incidentals. Government workers on CONUS travel, under GSA rules, receive up to the Government rate for hotels in an area (with some exceptions). However, that part of the per diem is limited by what the...

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Hotel Group Government Contracts

»Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Most of our Government Contracts come to us directly from Government Agencies.  Our policy is that we cannot take a block of rooms out of inventory until we have an actual signed contract, purchase order or letter of intent.  Most times the contracting process takes so long that we end up waiting months for a definite answer that the group is actually coming. About six months ago we went ahead and broke our policy for Government groups and took four large bookings without any contract, purchase order or letter of intent.  We did this as a courtesy for the different groups because we really wanted their business and we knew that if we waited that the guest rooms would not be available when the contract became approved.  So far this year we have gotten stung two...

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Selling the Intangibles

»Posted by on Dec 30, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, History and Overview, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Tom Seaver (Major League Baseball Hall of Famer) once said, “The concentration and dedication to the intangibles are the deciding factors between who won and who lost.”  I firmly believe this statement is profoundly accurate, and I believe it’s applicable to several aspects of business, personal accomplishments and other areas of life.  Furthermore, I strongly believe the intangibles are particularly relevant when in comes to soliciting the U.S. Federal Government. As Director of National Sales for Carlson Hotels Worldwide, my subject matter expertise is hotels.  I feel some of the points made in this document could perhaps be the most valuable contribution I have given to my fellow SGTP affiliates.  As a result, the strategies outlined in this...

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Revenue Management Errors

»Posted by on Dec 25, 2014 in Hotels, Industry Postings | 0 comments

Hotel rooms and airline seats are equally perishable items, losing 100% of their daily value when they sit empty. In many cases, the hotel industry has implemented Revenue Management programs that enable individual hotels to plan for highs and lows in their markets, thereby maximizing revenues by pricing competitively low to drive occupancy during times of low demand and pricing competitively high to drive rate during times of high demand. On occasion, some hotel companies or individual hotels attempt to implement revenue management strategies without fully understanding the complexities of the overall concept, which in the case of hotels is, ultimately, to drive RevPAR (revenue per available room). Some hotel companies focus on parts of the revenue management...

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Fedrooms

»Posted by on Dec 21, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

The federal government spends more than $2.5 billion on hotels every year.  The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) states that one lodging program, FedRooms must be given first consideration when Government travelers book lodging for government business travel. FedRooms is the official government-wide, government-sponsored lodging program, in support of the President’s Management Agenda simplifying the lodging process for federal travelers and saving the government money. FedRooms negotiates hotel rates on behalf of the federal government in markets where government travelers need to stay.  Hotels in the FedRooms program are FEMA and ADA compliant, they have at least a two star Mobil Travel Guide or AAA rating, they accept government credit cards and other forms...

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Per Diem Rate Guidelines

»Posted by on Dec 21, 2014 in History and Overview, Hotels | 0 comments

One of the distinct challenges the hotel community continues to encounter are the criteria set for establishing the areas to be surveyed and how the data from Smith Travel is used. The Data used to compile the rate and occupancy information tends to focus on all the area within the city limits, but does not focus on the main areas of where government or business travel is concentrated. A good example is to compare Boston and San Francisco as these two cities for corporate travel rates are rather similar. Boston with seasonal rates of $203-$256 is a concentrated area with a large downtown and does not contain a suburban area containing many hotels. The majority of the hotels within the city limits are located in the downtown area. San Francisco has a similar...

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Hotel Rating Standards are not Standardized Worldwide

»Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Lodging rating systems offer travelers the mild reassurance of a quality establishment when traveling.  Government travelers usually prefer 2 to 4 star rated hotel properties, depending on location. In the U.S., Mobile Travel Guides and American Automobile Association (AAA), conduct inspections and issue an annual guidebook listing accommodations using a one-to-five star rating.  The ratings are based on specific standards regarding the services and facilities.  The most common classification systems include:  letter grading (A-F), “star” rating, diamond rating, which is very similar to the star rating, or a simple satisfactory or unsatisfactory rating. However, no standardized international classification system has been adopted. There is only one...

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Per Diem

»Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

General Services Administration (GSA) sets the maximum per diem allowances for travel in the United States (CONUS) established by the county.  GSA updates the CONUS per diem rates on a fiscal year basis. Per Diem rates are approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and published annually. Occasionally adjusted rates are published during the course of the fiscal year.  The per diem rate includes lodging , meals and incidental expenses and apply to all individuals traveling on behalf of the Federal Government.   Incidental expenses include items such as tips for baggage carriers, bell hops, hotel maids, etc.    A committee at the Department of Defense (DOD) sets the maximum per diem allowances for travel in Alaska, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of...

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Corporatizing or Improving TDY Government Travel Solicitation Processes

»Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels | 0 comments

Each year, it is my responsibility to solicit all four thousand plus of our hotels for each agency or third party we have relationships with, who have government lodging contracts. The rates must be at or below per diem, must be contracted January 1 through December 31 of program year, are preferably both commissionable and last room available. Also, the hotels offer their own non-contracted government rate that may or may not be at per diem. Although these are pretty simple requirements and standard for all participating properties, they do have challenges that corporatization may improve. First, per diems are issued in early August to be effective October of that year through September of the following year. Since we currently contract January to December, all...

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Central Contracting Registration

»Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

On October 1, 2003 in order for any supplier to be awarded federal government contract it became necessary to be registered on the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) Database.  When this directive was mandated, our national sales team took the initiative to educate our hotel community and assisted them in completing this registration process. Registration on the CCR needs to occur once per year to maintain an active status.  Because having an active CCR standing is now and “absolute” in terms of doing business with the federal government, we have consistently observed that more contracting officers, meeting planners, third parties and other business drivers are insisting on having this information upfront in the solicitation process. Recently, we have...

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Hotel Reporting

»Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Hotel reporting is still very much in its infancy stages. Much of this is due to the fact that most hotels locations are ‘branded’ rather than owned by the chain. Basically the front room system at a hotel talks to the Brand, so that whether reservations are made thru the 800 number, via the GDS, or hotel direct, you can pull up the information. However, bookings and actual usage of those rooms can be two entirely different scenarios. There are many versions of back room accounting systems in the marketplace, and to further complicate matters there are many different editions of that same account/report system. Thus each hotel is ‘restricted’ in reporting capabilities based upon the dollar amount they are willing to invest in their back...

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FedRooms®

»Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms ®is the official government- wide, GSA sponsored lodging program.  The program is compliant with Federal Travel Regulations  and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and available to all federal government and military personnel.   The program was created in 2004 and is currently the largest managed hotel program in the world, offering federal travelers rates at or below per diem with over 7,000 hotels to choose from in prime locations. Additional  benefits  of the program to the travelers include: 4 p.m. or later day-of-arrival cancel policy No early departure fees No minimum stay requirements No reservation deposits No add on fees The FedRooms® program offers benefits to the government and private industry lodging providers.   The...

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Yield Management – Airlines & Hotels

»Posted by on Nov 19, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

Yield management, also known as “revenue management is the process of understanding, anticipating and influencing consumer behavior in order to maximize yield or profits from a fixed, perishable resource (such as airline seats or hotel room reservations)”. Successful yield management focuses on selling the product in such a manner that is timely, price competitive, and directed towards the right subset of customers. The basic concept of yield management is based in the economic principle of supply and demand: when supplies are short, prices go up; when supply is high, prices go down. Yield management is a studied, systematic method by which managers can logically place customers within the supply demand spectrum, and thus gain the highest yield for their...

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GSA and States Need to Partner in Setting Per-diem Rates

»Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Hotels, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The 50 states across the United States all adopt some sort of a travel reimbursement program.   A majority of the states adopt the GSA per-diem rate as the benchmark to reimburse travelers.   There are some problems that States with this methodology.   Some properties will only honor the GSA per-diem rates for federal travelers.  The other problem is some properties will not honor per-diem rates at all due to the market being under valued. According to the GSA; getting a per-diem rate adjusted in a market that may be undervalued, can only be requested by a federal travel manager.   This provides a real problem for states that have markets where federal travelers do not travel too.  A prime example is along the Oregon coast.  One city along...

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Airlines, Hotels, and the TMC

»Posted by on Nov 4, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

To ensure the value a TMC can bring to government travelers and all governments agencies, a TMC must understand the regulations and rules and that influence airfare and hotel reservations on an ongoing basis.  CPP, City Pair Program, and understanding the difference between YCA, _CA, and _CB air fares is most important for TMC agents booking each government traveler with an air itinerary.  It is a TMC’s responsibility to know how to get the CPP contract, display the options in the GDS, and follow each specific government agencies rules for approval and ticketing.  Other essential knowledge for booking airfare for government travelers is interpreting and applying the Fly America Act, the Airline Open Skies Agreements, airline code shares, frequent flyer...

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Hotel Booking and Regulation Challenges for Federal Travelers

»Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Whether traveling by air, car, or train, Government travelers often require the use of a hotel room.  Due to federal regulations and E-Gov Travel Service (ETS) complications, the hotel reservation and booking process involves many challenges. Some travelers mistakenly think that the “Government rate” at hotels is the Government lodging per diem rate.  Yet this “Government rate” is not managed by the Federal Government at all.  The rate that is managed by the Government is called the FedRooms rate. Hotels that offer the FedRooms rate participate in the Government’s FedRooms program.  What some Government travelers might not realize is that they should give “first consideration…to government lodging agreement programs such as FedRooms” (Federal...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Travelers no longer need to search and compare hotels to ensure they are compliant with federal regulations. When a traveler books FedRooms, he or she is guaranteed to be in compliance. With more than 5,000 FedRooms hotels worldwide, and with new hotels added daily, FedRooms provides choice while leveraging the federal government’s overall buying power – ensuring guaranteed rates and rate protection now and in the future. For federal government travelers, there are significant differences between the FedRooms rate and “government” rates. The FedRooms rate is the only rate offered under the government-wide and government-sponsored hotel program and is a GSA sponsored hotel program. The “government” rates are rates that have not been negotiated on...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Oct 23, 2014 in Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is a government-sponsored lodging program designed for the federal traveler.  FedRooms negotiates hotel rates for those areas where government travelers need to stay while performing official government business.  This program provides a substantial savings to the government because rates are at or below per diem, no hidden costs or penalties are associated to the rate, travelers are not charged for early check-out, and travelers can cancel a reservation until 4:00 pm on the day of arrival without incurring a penalty. For the convenience of travelers, FedRooms offers a website which offers helpful information.  There’s a convenient search page for travelers to easily find a FedRooms hotel.  This site also offers an overview of the FedRooms...

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Travel Manager Responsibilities

»Posted by on Oct 18, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

As stated in the training materials, the role of the travel manager is to facilitate travel in a manner to ensure compliance. In the corporate market, compliance is monitored via a series of reports designed by the travel manager to assess how changes in policy and process effect overall behavior (compliance). Although the federal government has plans to establish similar oversight, the capability from a data standpoint is not yet available. Once the data does become available, the government will not be left without challenges. The most significant remaining challenge is that the roles and responsibilities of travel manager must evolve accordingly. Currently the primary role of federal travel managers is to ensure travelers understand and comply with policy,...

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Always do the research…

»Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Electronic systems can be a great tool.  However, I learned an important lesson a short time ago when I was preparing for a trip.  Just because you find something in an electronic system that fits your needs, it’s still important to do a little more research.  Information in the system is only as good as what is provided by the property or airline. A few months ago a coworker and I were planning a trip to Washington, DC and I learned a very important lesson.  It’s always a good idea to check the area when looking for lodging.  There was a lot going on in town that week and it was nearly impossible to find a hotel without a long metro ride or walk to where we were working.  We had reservations at a hotel a ways outside the city but I kept looking...

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Travel and Government Quarters

»Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Hotels, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Government agencies are faced with reduced budgets in recent years due to the economy. At our agency, employees have been asked to submit suggestions to improve processes and save money during this time of limited resources. Several suggestions have been submitted that relate to Government travel. One suggestion that was submitted was that the agency should require that Government quarters be used because they are much less expensive than commercial lodging. This paper provides an overview of what the regulations state about the requirements to use Government quarters. In accordance with the Department of Defense (DoD) Financial Management Regulation (FMR) Volume 9, Chapter 5, the orders for travelers must specify the actual TDY duty location For example, if a...

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City Pair and Hotel Programs

»Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

AIRLINES – CITY PAIR PROGRAM: In 1978, the Airline Deregulation Act changed the dynamics and working ways of the airline industry. The government taking a cue from corporate houses, that started demanding discount in airline prices, established the City Pair program to benefit from the travel expenditure on airlines. These fares are only issued against government credit cards or GTR’s and published under the code YCA, where Y means unrestricted coach and “CA” means Contract Award. There is also Government Business contract issued under code –CB (like DCB, which means controlled capacity in Business booked under D and “CB” means Contract Business. To confront various scenarios of what can happen, certain exceptions to the mandatory use of city pair...

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Hotels

»Posted by on Sep 26, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), an estimated 93,000 federal government employees stay in hotels each night with an annual spend for lodging of nearly $2 billion which is an increase from 1.9 billion in 2005. There are a variety of hotel rating systems such as AAA and the Mobil Travel Guide that assign a value to the overall condition, location and amenities offered by a hotel property. The ratings can differ widely. Government travelers generally use 2 to 4 star or diamond rated properties, depending on the location. The rating systems offer some assurance of quality, location and amenities when selecting hotel accommodations. There is also assurance for the safety of our travelers through the required Hotel and Motel Fire Safety...

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Government Lodging Policy

»Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

 When I first walked into my first position with the Department of State (DOS), I was asked to spend one week, working closely with the employees in the DOS, Regulations Division.  I was amazed to learn that the policy is the law that governs the entire program and with this, travel would be completely out of control and abused.  This sparked my interest to work closely with those who are responsible for establishing, revising and writing policy pertaining to travel.  I have decided five years later, after receiving much training that my career would focus directly for writing travel policy for federal agencies. Lodging can be an area that is easily be abused as well as placing federal government in danger, if the law does not address what the employee can...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Finding hotels that meet government standards and the travelers’ needs has historically been a tedious process for travelers and document preparers alike. Numerous searches would be made to find and compare hotels that were in compliance with per diem rates and travel regulations. In 2004 the General Services Administration (GSA) partnered with Carlson Wagonlit’s Hotel Solutions Group to redesign the government’s lodging program. The program has undergone several significant changes–one of the most obvious is the transition from the legacy program’s name, Federal Premier Lodging Program (FPLP), to the new program name, FedRooms. Additionally, the number of participating properties in the FedRooms program has increased from just over 600 in 2004 to...

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The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990

»Posted by on Sep 2, 2014 in Business Practices, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Public Law 101-391, also known as The Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act, requires federal employees to stay in fire-safe lodging facilities.  This is an Act of Congress that was signed by President George H. W. Bush on September 25, 1990.  The main purpose of this Act is to save lives. To be considered fire-safe, lodging facilities must have: hard-wired, single-station smoke detectors in each guestroom in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 72; and an automatic sprinkler system, with a sprinkler head in each guest room in compliance with NFPA standards 13 or 13R. Properties three stories or lower in height are exempt from the sprinkler requirement. Over 400 Americans died in hotel fires in the 1970s and 1980s.  Later...

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Travel Transaction Fees

»Posted by on Aug 23, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Domestic or international, request assistance or book on-line are all factors of how much a traveler will be charged for their government travel reservations. Government travelers are still struggling with the different fees that appear on their travel documents. First there are the Travel Management (TMC) fees. The TMC fee is charged at the time the ticket is issued for airfare and when the hotel reservation is booked. The rate of the fee is based upon the service that is provided to the traveler. The TMC fee is significantly lower if the traveler books reservations on-line rather than calling an agent for traditional service. Also the fee for international reservations is higher when the traveler requests assistance due to the complexity of the travel. The...

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Promoting Efficient Travel Spending

»Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Hotels, Industry Postings, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 1 comment

Last year I wrote about the emphasis on reduced travel budgets and gaining cost savings and efficiencies related to Federal Government travel.  Since that time, the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have further reduced travel funding.  The President signed an Executive Order entitled “Promoting Efficient Spending” dated November 9, 2011 asking agencies to review policies and procedures to find savings and efficiencies related to official travel, and in other areas such as fleet, IT and printing.  The Order calls for reductions of not less than 20% below fiscal year 2010 budget totals, effective by 2013. The Order states: “As they serve taxpayers, executive departments and agencies also must act in a fiscally responsible...

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Conference Lodging

»Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

CONFERENCE LODGING By: Deva Wilson                 General Services Administrative (GSA) issued conference and conference planning guidelines in 2000.  The policy allows for conference per diem expenses, when approved to be reimbursed under the ‘Conference Lodging Allowance.’   The ‘Conference Lodging Allowance’ is a pre-determined maximum allowance of up to 125 percent increase of the applicable locality lodging ceiling portion of the per diem rate.   It is not an actual expense allowance (AEA).   Conference attendees may be reimbursed the actual lodging amount incurred not to exceed the conference lodging allowance under this reimbursement method.  You must obtain authorization/approval for the conference lodging...

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Per Diem

»Posted by on Aug 3, 2014 in Hotels | 1 comment

According to Wikipedia, per diem is Latin for “per day” or “for each day”. Travelers are authorized per diem when they perform temporary duty (TDY) travel. TDY travel is generally when government employees travel 50 miles or more away from their permanent duty station (PDS). When individuals are gone for more than 12 hours, they are entitled to per diem. The per diem allowance for the government traveler includes lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. It does not include transportation expenses. Per diem rates for the continental US (CONUS) are established by the General Service Administration (GSA). Rates outside the continental US (OCONUS) are established by the Department of State. These are generally referred to as foreign. Rates outside the...

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Conference Lodging 2

»Posted by on Jul 24, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

CONFERENCE LODGING By: Deva Wilson                 General Services Administrative (GSA) issued conference and conference planning guidelines in 2000.  The policy allows for conference per diem expenses, when approved to be reimbursed under the ‘Conference Lodging Allowance.’   The ‘Conference Lodging Allowance’ is a pre-determined maximum allowance of up to 125 percent increase of the applicable locality lodging ceiling portion of the per diem rate.   It is not an actual expense allowance (AEA).   Conference attendees may be reimbursed the actual lodging amount incurred not to exceed the conference lodging allowance under this reimbursement method.  You must obtain authorization/approval for the conference lodging...

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FedRooms: The Answer to Government Lodging

»Posted by on Jul 19, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

As a government employee, there are times that arise when I am asked to travel somewhere in order to receive training for my job or to train others for theirs. Working in the Travel department within my agency, I know the importance of following regulations to find a hotel within per diem at the location I am traveling to. In the past, I would search the internet in order to find a hotel, but may have to go to numerous hotel sites to find a hotel that is within the allowed per diem. FedRooms has now made this job a simpler process. By logging into one website, I am able to find hotels from several chains that are within the per diem amount. Not only does FedRooms make hotel rooms easier to find, it also helps government travelers with guarantees that the hotels...

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RFPs In the Hotel Industry

»Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels | 0 comments

In the hotel industry I have seen a RFP from a government contractor, trying to secure the government bid but also trying to save their company money for hotel stays, since most of the time they will be coming in and staying weekly or even monthly. When they send out RFP’s then tend to send to several different hotels or even upload it to a RFP process center, where your company can go online and bid on the contracts with the other hoteliers. The contractor is not just looking to better a price but what is offered with that price. “More for the money. Also it states certain items that are required within the RFP. We have many steps for this process. We are signed up with the NECO Navy website that sends daily procurements that have to be filled out by noon and...

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Travel Budget Savings

»Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Rental Cars | 0 comments

The Bureau of the Public Debt performs reimbursable administrative services to other Government agencies.  Our office administers travel services that include GovTrip E-Travel services and travel policy.  In the current economic climate with all the focus on cost savings and reduced budgets, saving travel dollars is taking center stage. Agencies are faced with reduced funding for travel and using video conferencing wherever feasible. The Government is tracking the ‘carbon footprint’ of their trips and setting targets for reductions.  This stemmed from a Presidential Executive Order last year and has been highly visible since reporting began. Also centralizing reporting for adherence to Federal and agency travel policies is appearing with the new GSA...

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Utilizing SGTP Resources

»Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Airlines, Business Practices, History and Overview, Hotels, Rental Cars, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Overview:  The largest membership base within SGTP are smaller companies such as travel agencies, individual hotels, and or other industry suppliers that are currently or looking to enter or increase sales revenue within the government travel sector. Challenge: To communicate effectively with our membership in a two way dialogue of the SGTP resources and have them utilize them to better understand the government travel marketplace.  And to assist in creating developing increased sales for their organization in his $20 billion annual spend by arena. Issue: New members are continuously joining SGTP on a year round basis.  And though we would like all to be successful immediately with positive results we are aware of the lengthy process, time commitment and...

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Where Do We Go From Here?

»Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods, Rental Cars, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Let’s take a look at where government travel will be in the future. To see what a government traveler will experience, we’ll need to look at the various aspects of the travel system covered in our course, and extrapolate the current trends ten years down the road. The major trends in the Global Distribution world are connections across the internet and controlling distribution costs. In the next few years we are likely to see suppliers using focused distribution channels rather than the GDS to control their costs. By distributing on more effective channels, the suppliers not only safe, but gain more control over their inventory. No doubt, these channels will be internet based as the new systems coming online now are all web riding. This trend will impact...

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Open Skies and Code Shares Nitty Gritty

»Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Airlines, Hotels, Industry Postings | 0 comments

I found the material in both of these lessons (2b and 2c) informative regarding airline and hotel requirements. Particularly useful are the sections on City Pair fares and FEMA hotel requirements. While the target audience for the material is travel agents or those in the travel industry dealing directly with government employee travel, there is an opportunity to expand to those working for government contractors by outlining how these regulations apply or do not apply to the government contractor. Government contractors have to abide by many of the same regulations, though not all. For example, the GSA on its Contractor Fact Sheet (http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/102009) has made it clear that City Pairs are not required of, because they cannot be used by,...

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E-Verify and the Travel Industry

»Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

On November 14, 2008, the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a final rule (73 FR 67651), amending 48 CFR Parts 2, 22, and 52, to change the rules on Employment Eligibility Verification.  These new rules require Government contractors to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government to use the Federal E-Verify system to confirm the immigration status of employees working on Government contracts performed within the United States.  Prior to the effective date of the new regulation, January 15, 2009, the use of the E-Verify system was voluntary. Government contractors, as well as businesses in general, have long been obligated to check...

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Factors that Influence the changes to Lodging Rates

»Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Starting in 2005 the lodging per diem rates have been based on the average daily rate (ADR) data, which is a measure based upon a property’s room rental revenue divided by the number of rooms rented as reported by the hotel property to the contractor.  GSA reviews each specific property to make sure they meet their criteria for geography, fire safe certification, and various property’s demography combined with their ADR to help determine market rates.  This calculation provides GSA with the average rate that rooms rent in a given area.  The goal is to find properties that have the best mid-range hotels in the market. For fluctuations, GSA has created seasonal rate periods in many markets where there is a sustained period (two or more months in...

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Government Groups: Hotel Industry Perspective

»Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

In some instances the Government Contact who is coming for the site visit or is making contact with the Sales Person is not the one who is making the final decision that their group will be using the accommodations and meeting space.  I have seen the final decision being made by the Contractor, the Meeting Planner and sometimes a small committee of people.  In one instance I showed a small group of three ladies around.  They were in town to see multiple properties.  Since they came to us first and our competition second we were not given an opportunity to negotiate.  I thought that this was really unfair.  Since our location is downtown, we charge for parking.  Our competition is a little bit outside of town and has a huge parking lot.  The three ladies...

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The Government Hotel Program

»Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels, Payment Methods | 0 comments

The government has implemented an excellent hotel program providing great benefits to its agencies while lowering cost to provide the best services to its travelers. Hotels have contracted with the government per diem rates, different types of properties, special amenities and charge cards, special negotiation rates and specialized lodging programs. The travelers have access to great hotels, meeting their needs and beyond. In addition to the great hotel services and amenities the travelers are provided with a convenient payment charge card and/or direct billing to their federal agency. This helps eliminate out of pocket payment.  This is a great advantage as many other public or private companies fail to provide these services to its employees.  For example, I...

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Federal Lodging

»Posted by on May 4, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

There are many regulations a federal traveler must following when selecting lodging for official business travel.  The government establishes per diem rates for locations world-wide.  The per diem allowance is intended to limit the amount a federal traveler spends on lodging, meals and incidental expenses.   Travelers should use an e-Travel system,  which will provide a list of hotels within the government rate.  Travelers without access to an e-Travel system can get the rates from the GSA website.  Per diem rates are reviewed annually and adjusted based on the assessment of trends and lodging needs.  General Services Administration (GSA) submits the new rates to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval.  Once approved by OMB, GSA...

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Per Diem

»Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

My first class in CGTP history about the Global Distribution Systems was of great interest to me. I plan meetings for government agencies and have some knowledge of the per diem but didn’t know the full history of it. I was aware that the General Services Administration (GSA) established the per diem rates for destinations within the Continental United States (CONUS) but found out so much thru my studies on how it all was developed into the programs we have currently. Our Meeting Planning department is working with a government group in Bethel Alaska where the per Diem is currently $135.00. The Bed and Breakfast was originally offering breakfast but with the rising cost of food, and fuel, they can no longer offer this at the per diem.  When the gas barges...

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Lodging Issues In Government Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

As the U.S. Federal government embraces electronic travel systems and begins to move their travel bookings to these systems, we see a number of problems arise. Some are common to all migrations to booking tools (and away from agent based travel) and will be eliminated as the traveler becomes more comfortable with the systems with continued use. However, I would argue the unique nature of government travel and the government traveler create issues rarely seen in the corporate world, and may continue to confound the system, and the traveler attempting to use them. First, look at the history of how government travelers book lodging vs. air and car. For a number of years, surveys by SGTP and others have shown that the travelers routinely book air and car though their...

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Fedrooms and FEMA Requirements

»Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

Part of the requirements to do business with the Federal Government is that your hotel must be FEMA Certified. As a new build or converting hotel, you must make sure that the building contractor is having the required inspections prior to the opening of the hotel. You must also ensure that the State Fire Marshall has given their approval during the construction process. There are some occasions where the local laws may exceed the Federal Minimum Requirements, so verify with the Fire Marshal which requirements you must meet. The contact point you will require for this process is; http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/applications/hotel/ This is the web address for the US Fire Administration which is where you will find the online application for your FEMA number and be able to...

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Fedrooms for Improvement

»Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is the enhanced Federal Premier Lodging Program designed to make Federal travel more convenient.   FedRooms promotes the following benefits with a hotel room reservation: rates at-or-below Government per diems; no-fee reservation cancellation privileges, no added costs (health club fee, resort fee, etc.), no early check-out fees, and last room availability of program rates at many hotels.  FedRooms rates are easy to obtain by using your E-Gov Travel System, by making your reservation on the FedRooms.com website, or by calling the hotel and asking for the FedRooms rate.  All FedRooms properties are FEMA-approved and there are currently over 6,500 hotels to choose from worldwide.  What more can a Federal traveler ask for. As well as providing Government...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Jan 17, 2014 in Contracting for Travel Services, Global Distribution Systems, History and Overview, Hotels | 0 comments

Working for a Federally Funded Research and Development organization for the last eight years has been a great foundation for understanding government travel and its’ idiosyncrasies.  As I fought my way through JTR language and GSA restrictions, I’ve learned a lot about government travel policy, eligibility and procedures.  Although my organization is not eligible for all government specialties, we must follow many of the GSA and JTR regulations when arranging travel. The downside of not being eligible for many of the special discounts that government travelers are entitled to is our costs are much higher and constantly questioned by auditors.  FFRDC’s and government contractors are no longer eligible for the GSA City Pair Program or car rental programs,...

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Per Diem

»Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in History and Overview, Hotels | 0 comments

Per Diem rates are published annually for Conus and change infrequently. PDTATAC published rates for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories and lastly, the State Department establishes per diem for overseas travel and change as needed. We see three governing areas within our government that need to collaborate and establish a best practice for Per Diem calculations that are uniform, suitable to both industry and government and include like components such as taxes. Standardization of the process could eliminate significant costs related to training and education as well as errors in calculations by the traveler or agency.   Additionally less time would be spent on preparing for these trips and more time allocated to the mission and the goals to...

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Lodging

»Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Hotels | 0 comments

When a government employee is preparing to go on travel to conduct official government business, one question the person may ask is “Where am I going to stay”?  When it comes to selecting lodging, there are many regulations the government has established to try and be cost effective. The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) offers guidance concerning lodging for civilian government travelers.  Travelers are required to stay at hotels that are at or less than the per diem rate allowed.  Per diem rates consist of lodging, meals, and incidental expenses.  The per diem rates are released by the General Services Administration (GSA) after they have been reviewed and approved by the Office of Budget and Management (OMB).  The rates are reviewed and adjusted...

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Hotels

»Posted by on Dec 26, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

The hotel industry has really changed in the past 5 years by adding 250 thread-counts sheets, White duvet covers, complimentary Breakfast buffet, evening cocktails with appetizers, brand name shampoos, conditioners and lotions. I find that hotels are more aware of environmental concerns and the clients are seeking out these hotels for their stays. I was able to do a back of the house tour at a large chain hotel and I was surprised at how much detergent and water is used daily in the laundry to accommodate the linens at this property. A simple act of not having the sheets and towels changed everyday saves thousands of gallons of water a day. The Master List of FEMA compliant hotels makes it easier to keep our clients in a safe property. I feel confident using...

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Travel Regulations for the Government Employee vs. the Government Contractor

»Posted by on Dec 14, 2013 in Airlines, Hotels, Industry Postings, Rental Cars, White Papers | 1 comment

Government regulations regarding travel are not only required by employees of the U.S. government, but also extend to government contractors as well. Government contractors have to abide by many of the same regulations, though not all. This short treatise will touch on some of the similarities and differences of regulatory travel requirements for government employees versus government contractors in the areas of air travel, hotel accommodations and car rentals. The implementation of the Fly America Act for government employees is predominately in the form of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) under the subsection Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) and the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) as well as the Department of State Standardized Regulations (DSSR). The...

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Yield Management for Hotels

»Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 in Global Distribution Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

In chapter 2 I read with interest about Yield Management and how it relates to the hotel industry and our property. Yield Management is very important.  Our own Revenue Manager plays such a large part in the daily success of our property.  She takes care of reservations and plays a part in assisting the Sales Department with duties such as rooming lists, deposits, and helping us to figure out if we are able to take groups on certain days and what rates to quote to maximize sales and drive occupancy.  She does all of this on top of her regular duties such as working with the General Manager as to where we stand for the month and year for our budget.  She looks at our rates compared to other properties in the area to determine if we need to make our rate lower...

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Conference Lodging

»Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

General Services Administrative (GSA) issued conference and conference planning guidelines in 2000.  The policy allows for conference per diem expenses, when approved to be reimbursed under the ‘Conference Lodging Allowance.’   The ‘Conference Lodging Allowance’ is a pre-determined maximum allowance of up to 125 percent increase of the applicable locality lodging ceiling portion of the per diem rate.   It is not an actual expense allowance (AEA).   Conference attendees may be reimbursed the actual lodging amount incurred not to exceed the conference lodging allowance under this reimbursement method.  You must obtain authorization/approval for the conference lodging allowance. The Conference Lodging Allowance applies only to the...

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Accounting for Travel

»Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Hotels, Rental Cars, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Many Federal employees will travel or relocate for their jobs at some point in their career.  Travelers are mostly concerned about staying at a preferred hotel and getting a direct flight and may not realize that every travel authorization and voucher is also an accounting entry. In the accounting world, a travel authorization becomes an accounting document called an obligation and has the same accounting impact as a purchase order for goods or services.  The obligation reserves the estimated amount to ensure funds are available when the traveler submits a voucher for payment.  When the voucher is recorded in the financial system, the obligation is reversed and a payment is made. To determine what “pot of money” the traveler is using, the travel documents...

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FedRooms

»Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

FedRooms is a government program that negotiates prices in different cities around the country to be used by government travelers.  The properties can be used for official business travel and some also offer a discounted rate for personal travel.  All properties that participate in the program offer a 4:00 or later cancellation policy which means if plans change at the last minute the traveler won’t be charged for a room they don’t use.  Many of the hotels also offer last room availability which means that if there’s a room available they must give it to the traveler at the negotiated rate. I’ve used the FedRooms program for both business and personal travel.  My experiences have all been good.  The process for booking the room is very...

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Group Hotel Reservations—A Challenge for ETS

»Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

The use of the Fedtraveler online booking engine (OBE) for government travel provides different options regarding mode of travel, hotel reservations and rental car reservations.  The purpose of this paper is to focus on the required use of the hotel OBE for government travel versus the use of a direct or manual process of booking hotel reservations for government travel. For the last 18 months one of my collateral duties has been the first level approving official for government travel for a Region of 26 federal government employees and in that time, I have reviewed and approved dozens of travel plans and expense reports.  The primary focus of the Region I work in is to travel throughout the country one to two weeks out of the month and conduct assessments on...

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Understanding the Government

»Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels | 0 comments

One of the most critical factors in determining whether the government market is real business fit for a hotel is contingent on whether there are local government business drivers that exist in that hotel’s competitive set.  In the final analysis, local government customers will steer nearly all the government volume that generates into a specific region. Having a solid understanding of who the local government players are, and further understanding their collective needs are perhaps the most important tactical components of penetrating and properly selling to government clients. In this age of revenue optimization, one question hotels must consider is whether the prevailing per diem for lodging is acceptable?  If the answer is yes, then the hotel is...

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Identifying and Capturing Air and Hotel Charges in an Accounting System

»Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 in Airlines, Hotels | 0 comments

This posting will be a discussion regarding how an interface between an EGOV Travel application and an accounting system identifies and captures expenditures for air and hotel charges.  First, the discussion will regard the identification and mapping of the air and hotel charges in the EGOV Travel application.  Secondly, the discussion will focus on the capturing and reporting options for the air and hotel charges in the accounting system. In the EGOV Travel application, the traveler selects the appropriate air tickets in the reservation module.  The cost of the tickets automatically populates upon the legs being selected, and the Travel Management Center (TMC) fee also pulls in once the tickets are booked.    The hotel room rate is automatically...

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FedRooms Adoption

»Posted by on Jun 27, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

Before E-Gov Travel when I went on a trip the first thing I would do is to decide on what hotel I wanted to stay in.  I did this in various ways such as internet searches, past experiences or referrals.  My normal destination is to DC so I would try to find a hotel that was either close to the location I was traveling to or at least close to a metro stop.  Once a decision was made, I called the hotel and asked for the Government rate, which many times exceeded per diem.  Even after calling several hotels there were times I could not find any hotels that offered a rate at or below per diem and I ended up having to request reimbursement for actual expenses on my lodging. When our agency moved to a eTS and required that we book Fedrooms hotels when possible, many...

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Relationship Building

»Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Business Practices, Hotels | 0 comments

We have a particular group that is coming to our hotel for a conference in March.  This group has been booked since the middle of last year and has had to rebook one time already due to a tragedy.  Since we are coming up so close to their new arrival date, I have just found out that in the next two weeks everyone within this group will be making their travel arrangements to make the trip to Gettysburg.  This could greatly affect the arrival and departure dates that we already have in our reservation system.  By them booking their travel plans so close to their arrival date and by us already have been given a rooming list we could potentially be sitting on rooms that we may not be able to resell.  The policy at most properties would be to charge the groups for...

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E Gov Travel – The Transition and Training Process

»Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Beginning in September of 2004, our agency began converting our customers from the legacy travel system to the new E Gov Travel system.  With approximately thirty agencies to convert, we completed the transition within a twelve month time-frame.  Even though this schedule was quite intense, we were able to complete this transition successfully due to the cooperation of everyone involved, the organization of a well thought out project plan, and a detailed training plan. For each customer to convert from the legacy system to the new one, there were two people in our agency assigned to lead each team.  We were responsible for performing all of the background maintenance tasks, such as routing lists, the people table, and security groups. We also trained all...

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There’s No Such Thing as a Magic Bullet

»Posted by on Mar 11, 2013 in Contracting for Travel Services, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels | 0 comments

Open most newspapers and you will probably find that many experts are predicting a bleak economic forecast for 2009 and financial uncertainty.  Due to inevitable declining market conditions, several hotels are now refocusing their efforts and targeting the government market as a primary sales initiative for the upcoming fiscal year. As a national sales director, one of my primary functions is to manage global RFPs for government key accounts on behalf of a hotel community compromised over 1,000 hotels.  Recently, I was in rigorous task of managing RFP negotiations when it occurred to me that hotels in general seemed to be putting too much of an emphasis on program history. In my opinion, this rationale strongly reinforces that educating hotels in terms of how...

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Per Diem Rate Guidelines

»Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in Business Practices, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods, Rental Cars | 0 comments

One of the distinct challenges the hotel community continues to encounter are the criteria set for establishing the areas to be surveyed and how the data from Smith Travel is used. The Data used to compile the rate and occupancy information tends to focus on all the area within the city limits, but does not focus on the main areas of where government or business travel is concentrated. A good example is to compare Boston and San Francisco as these two cities for corporate travel rates are rather similar. Boston with seasonal rates of $203-$256 is a concentrated area with a large downtown and does not contain a suburban area containing many hotels. The majority of the hotels within the city limits are located in the downtown area. San Francisco has a similar...

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Per Diem Rates

»Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in Hotels | 0 comments

Per diem rates are set each year for various CONUS, non-foreign and overseas locations.  Although most per diem rates stay constant throughout the year, there are some locations where the rates may change several times during the year.  This may be to account for certain “peak” travel times or seasons, such as summer or any other time of the year when a lodging facility may see an increased demand for lodging.  Travelers staying in CONUS and non-foreign locations are required to claim lodging taxes as a separate expense under “miscellaneous expenses” in GovTrip, the ETS system used by the Department of the Treasury and its customers.  If the traveler is staying in an overseas location, lodging taxes are not claimed separately, but are...

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Prudence or Prudent – How is it applied?

»Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Airlines, Business Practices, Government Traveler Comments, Hotels, Industry Postings, Rental Cars, White Papers | 0 comments

For those of us who work for the government and with travel policy, we have heard the words “prudence” or “prudent” many times.  What do these words mean and more importantly, what do they mean to each of us as individuals? Dictionaries give us many definitions for prudence and prudent.  Care, caution, discretion, frugal, responsible, sensible, and thrifty are a few of the definitions for these words.  How are they applied by the government traveler? What does the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) say about being prudent?  FTR 301-10.123 basically states that the prudent person should use the same care in incurring expenses that would be spent on personal travel.  Most individuals use their personal money wisely and try to get the most value from their...

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Global Distribution Systems and the Federal Traveler

»Posted by on Nov 19, 2012 in Electronic Travel Systems, Global Distribution Systems, Hotels, Rental Cars | 0 comments

The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) require that all federal travel be booked using a government travel agent, also known as a Travel Management Center (TMC).  Reservations can be made on-line using an e-Gov travel systems or via a phone call to the TMC.  When you use a TMC, your reservations are booked using one of the Global Distribution Systems (GDS) such as Sabre, Galileo, or Worldspan.  The GDS were previously known as Computer Reservation Systems (CRS) and were created by major airlines to aggregate the schedules, pricing, and inventory of the world’s airlines that could be used by travel agents to make reservations. The GDS eventually began including hotel, rental car, tour and cruise inventory for those companies that wanted to pay to participate....

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DTS, ETS & FedRooms

»Posted by on Nov 2, 2012 in Electronic Travel Systems, Hotels, Payment Methods | 2 comments

The federal government has taken on monumental tasks implementing the DTS system and ETS systems, and I commend DoD and GSA for their actions. Surprisingly, although the systems have been in place for many years now, my experience has been that neither group has been able to obtain the type of management reports necessary to effectively alter traveler behavior or leverage their purchasing power during negotiations. As a simple example, let’s take the FedRooms program. Currently DoD does not participate in the program. Therefore the FedRooms rates, according to GSA’s FedRooms manager, are not even loaded into the DTS system for display to DoD travelers. On the ETS side of the house, while FedRooms rates (XVU code) are displayed, they are displayed with up to 20...

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A Matter of Ethics

»Posted by on Aug 21, 2012 in Airlines, Business Practices, Hotels, Payment Methods, Rental Cars | 0 comments

Government travel represents only a small portion of government spending.  When dealing with taxpayer dollars however, government employees are and should be held highly accountable.  The government traveler should exercise the highest level of ethical behavior to avoid any repercussions that could arise from public perception.  The newspapers and television stations are always anxious to report stories concerning government officials using the taxpayer’s money to fund personal vacations or lavish accommodations stating it was for official government business.  And that, my fellow Americans, is the fleecing of America.  Consistent enforcement of travel policies is needed to ensure waste, fraud, or abuse does not occur and also to avoid even the...

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Using Hotel Ratings to Determine Preferred Lodging

»Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Hotels, Industry Postings | 0 comments

Hotel rating systems used to determine the relative quality of individual hotels, or even entire brands, often reflect only the provision of amenities and do not necessarily take into full account those qualities that differentiate a desirable hotel from a non-desirable hotel. While safety and cleanliness do enter into consideration for many rating systems, they too often are minimized by assessments that rely heavily on the number of amenities offered to determine the ultimate rating of a hotel. For instance, two practically identical hotels in the same neighborhood could, theoretically, receive different ratings simply because one features a small swimming pool, or enclosed closets in the rooms instead of exposed clothes racks, or sets out muffins and juice each...

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Force Majeure

»Posted by on Oct 9, 2011 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Hotels | 0 comments

In today’s economic climate, most hoteliers have a strong sense of urgency in doing more business with the U.S. Federal Government. Perhaps one of the most important factors in accomplishing this is having a comprehensive understanding of how government contracting works.  It goes without saying the federal government has its own set of unique processes and rules.  I have found one consistent, absolute condition always surfaces related to government group contracts, which is something called Force Majeure. Force Majeure is a French term which means “greater force.”  Nearly every government contract and/or letter of intent will have a force majeure clause.  This clause excuses an interested party from liability if some unforeseen event beyond the...

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Hotel Billing Issues

»Posted by on Oct 6, 2011 in Hotels, Payment Methods | 0 comments

I thought that these 2 chapters (Chapter 4a & 4b) were very fascinating.  I can relate to these topics because there have been a few instances where we have had some billing issues with certain government agencies.  The first instance that I can think of was with an agency we had booked at the Gettysburg Hotel last year.  During their meeting they ended up adding AV equipment on to make their master account higher than what it was originally approved for.  It only ended being a small amount under $100 but in order to be paid the full amount, the agency would have had to gone back and gotten the full amount approved which could have taken months.  Instead we wrote off the added amount just to get the majority of our money while they were there. A second...

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Choosing a Hotel For Your Upcoming Stay With Government Per Diem

»Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 in Government Traveler Comments, Hotels | 0 comments

Just because you are traveling with a rate guideline does not mean you need to just find a hotel that offers the government per diem or even if it is less than the government per diem.  Do you research! If you are not able to go into the DTS system to search for a room you could always search www.fedrooms.com or www.fedtravel.com that has a list of hotels that are standardized to the regulations or procedures or are FEMA approved. I would do more research and if you are not familiar with the area but have access to the internet, check out this websitewww.tripadvisor.com search for the FEMA approved hotels that are listed as approval hotels and see what reviews say about this hotel. Also visit the hotels own website to see what they have to offer. This could...

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