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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 Declaration form, that is required to be submitted to the U.S. Fire Administration to be registered on the Master List of FEMA compliant hotels. This insures that hotels have the required smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, evacuation directions, and other fire safe procedures in place.
All of this makes it easier when you are making hotel reservations for your client, trying to find a hotel that is offering the per diem or government rate. Sometimes this is not available but other lower rates are available if you ask. This have been times that I have been told the government rates were not available. It’s always good to ask what other rates are available, which is sometimes cheaper than the per diem rate or government rate would have been.
Per diems are established for localities around the world to limit the amount a federal traveler spends on lodging, meals and incidental expenses with certain exceptions. Many hotels have responded to this market by setting lodging rates at or below per diem, which may be the reason if designated rooms for certain rates have been sold, they are so willing to offer other available rates, if not don’t hesitate to ask the agent. Hotels remain, competitive now with so many convenient and attractive amenities being offered, i.e. Continental breakfast, hot cook to order breakfast, check out available through your in-room television, free hotel parking, free hotel shuttle, happy hour of some sort, free local calls, etc.
by Sandra Brown
Policy only requires that travelers stay at hotels that are at or below the locality per diem, so don’t hesitate to ask for the “best deal”, this is required at my agency.