Payment Methods

» Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

I have worked with several government agencies and the SmartPay cards has improved the prospects of booking groups into hotels when compared to hotels accepting a group paying with a Purchase Order.

The SmartPay has cut the payment process so much, that hotels who would not accept a group are actively seeking Government business. When groups were booked in a hotel prior to the SmartPay the hotel and the Travel Management Company (TMC) had to process the invoices for services thru a Purchase Order and this process was sometimes challenging to get the payment in a timely manner.

It usually takes 2-3 months after the event took place to get reimbursed. The Centrally Billed Account (CBA) card is especially great for booking emergency travel for groups over the weekend and after normal hotel Sales staff hours. Because of the SmartPay card, I can now call the hotel any time and secure rooms thru reservations at the hotel by holding them with the CBA.

When these situations occur and the group is traveling within 24 hours the hotels will hold the rooms until billing arrangements are setup with a Sales Representative the following Business Day.

I realize that the government is taking all types of measures to insure that they are saving money and reconciling the credit card statements. I see one flaw in this process.

The Meeting planner is responsible for negotiating the best rates possible for her group, setting up Direct Billing and submitting the Tax exempt forms to the hotel. Normally the planner is in charge of the entire process and they would review the Billing for accuracy.

With some of the groups room block Management is all that is required and the planner never sees the final bill or what has been charged against the CBA. One thing I would love to see included in the Data Warehouse Solicitation’s is a program where the Planner who sets up the room block would also set up the hotel name, negotiated rate and contracted room nights into a Management system. The hotel prior to charging would submit the charges into the same system of the actualized room nights and rates to be charged against the CBA.

The system would do a cross comparison of the rate that was negotiated and the rate submitted by the hotel to determine accuracy. If the rates and room nights are in sync then the payment is approved. If the rates or room nights charged are not what is negotiated a notice is then sent out to the hotel and planner informing them of the discrepancy and asking for verification. Another security measure that I think should be considered for the GSA SmartPay 2 contract would be to issued the CBA or Ghost cards for 6 months only. Reissuing a new credit card with a new number would stop charges by companies that have the CBA in their file.

I had a situation where a CBA number was being used for hotel and car rentals by a group. The group had to cancel and reissue the CBA when the Manager left the company.

I was surprised at how many hotels and car rental companies were submitting payments to the cancelled CBA without the knowledge of the card holder. Since the CBA card number was in the files other individuals not associated with the division were charged to the wrong CBA without getting further approval for the use of the card by the owner.

Most of the charges were legitimate but the companies had not followed the process to approve the use of the card, however, there were some companies that had to show proof of charges.

By Carolyn Amacker

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