Posts Tagged "Per Diem"

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Contracting for Travel Services

»Posted by on Feb 1, 2015 in Contracting for Travel Services | 0 comments

The hotel booking reports the government receives only states the reservations made, lacking the actual stay.   With the latest technology why is this issue not resolved? The government should be able to have the most recent and effective technology means to establish a smooth operation. How will the government have the latest changes on travel trips, since many changes occur hourly and/or daily?  This is another issue that should be resolved or be more of an importance to the government. Other reporting techniques from credit card companies are contributing to make this process smoother, by reporting hotel bookings are payments. However, there should be more focus on this matter. The travel should not have the burden of searching for other hotel properties...

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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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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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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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ETS Receipt Management Tool

»Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Payment Methods | 0 comments

On September 22, 2006 the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) was amended to mandate the use of the Receipt Management tool within an Electronic Travel System (ETS).  Within the Per Diem section of the FTR a statement was added, which states that hard copy, receipts should be electronically scanned and submitted with your electronic travel claim when your agency has this capability available with the use of the ETS.  Additionally it is stated that Approving Officials are now required to review the attached electronic receipts during their review/approval process. At our agency, Travelers are responsible for making sure that their receipts are attached correctly and the attachment is legible.  All receipts for air, lodging, rental car, and any single expense greater...

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International Date Line & Per Diem

»Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Electronic Travel Systems, Government Traveler Comments, Industry Postings, Travel Professional Resources, White Papers | 0 comments

Have you ever flown from the United States to Japan? Or how about to Beijing, China? If so, then you have crossed the International Date Line. Now you may be wondering, “What is the International Date Line?” The International Date Line (IDL) is an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that runs from the North Pole to the South Pole and determines one calendar day from the next. However, the time difference between either sides of the IDL is not always exactly 24 hours because of local time zone variations. While the world is divided into 24 time zones, there has to be a place where there is a difference in days, somewhere the day truly “starts” on the planet. Thus, the 180° line of longitude, exactly one-half way around the planet from...

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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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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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Data Collection and the Importance of Mandates

»Posted by on Oct 12, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

One way to measure the cost savings is through reporting from the TMC.  The collection of data will break down air, car, hotel and credit card spend with Ad Hoc reporting capabilities.  However, a non-mandated travel program makes it difficult to ensure cost savings to the organization. Reporting to Senior Management should reflect true costs associated with your program, unfortunately, as noted, all data may not be captured.   It is important for management to realize the benefits of mandating the use of the TMC and preferred vendors to better leverage discounts for the organization. Some of our greatest savings are obtained by mandating hotel bookings through our program.  As an example, we used to capture 50% of bookings through our on-line booking tool or...

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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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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 Evolution of Government Travel

»Posted by on Aug 22, 2014 in Airlines, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods, Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Twenty years ago I was assigned to the office that was responsible for travel processing.  In 1989 very few employees had computers and most of the work continued to be done as it had been for decades – by paper.   At that time a traveler would work with their secretary to complete a multi-carbon copy travel authorization.  The per diem rates were looked up in a GSA published book and the secretary would complete the estimates after calling the airline and hotel to make reservations.  Once the paper authorization or voucher was completed it was sent to several people for signature and eventually ended up in the Finance Office. Once the Finance Office received the documents, a technician verified the per diem rates and quarter day calculations for first and...

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Travel Payment Methods

»Posted by on Aug 16, 2014 in Payment Methods | 0 comments

GSA now has “Smart Pay 2” as its travel card, but it was not the first or even second card to be used by GSA.  While I am not old enough to have first hand knowledge I do have a dinosaur around the house (love you honey) who happened to have used three of the four GSA issued credit cards during his military and government service. The first was Diners Card while it may be one of the oldest credit cards in the world it was not taken in many place within the United States such as fast food places, small chain motels/hotels, and rental moving trucks, which many lower level GSA/military personnel often used to stay within their per diem rate and reimbursable expenses while traveling or relocating for business. However the Diners Card did not have these same...

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Government Travel Management: A Summary

»Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Electronic Travel Systems, History and Overview, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

Background: In the old days and before the 1978 Airlines Deregulation Act, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) used to decide the fares between any two cities. They decided which airline flew from/to cities and how much they should charge. Well, the 1978Airline Deregulation Act changed the dynamics and working ways of the airline industry. It allowed airlines to decide where to fly and how much they can charge. Competition was the name of the game. What was the government reaction to the deregulation act? In 1980, the government using the sheer volume of business it controls was able to negotiate and establish “government fares or CITY PAIR PROGRAM”. “Fly America Act” requires the use of US flag carriers or US Code Share flights. These fares were to become...

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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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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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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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Electronic Travel Systems

»Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Electronic Travel Systems | 0 comments

E-Gov Travel Systems have emerged over the past decade as part of the President’s Management Agenda. The idea of automating a previously paper intensive process naturally sounds like a smart idea. The difficulties begin starting with the change management process. It is a huge learning curve to overcome when travelers are used to the old paper process, possibly still using form fillers and looking up per diem rates; then switching to an electronic paperless process. You have to get buy in from every level of the organization to achieve a successful transition. Involvement of the core team of those bureaus and offices affected by the transformation is also critical from the very beginning of the process. Another difficulty is with only 3 vendors to choose from,...

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Educating the Traveler

»Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Business Practices, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

But why can’t I just buy the ticket on the internet? Do I need to buy the additional insurance? What hotels offer per-diem rates in this city? These are just some of the questions we travel managers face on a daily basis. Getting the best value in travel services is a primary function of our job, but more importantly it is to educate the travelers on how to use the travel program.    We sometimes forget that some travelers may only travel once a year on official business and have either forgotten or have never used the rules and procedures to travel. Developing a web page with frequently asked questions is one great way to educate.  When I first took over travel management for the State nine years ago, my phone would constantly ring with the same...

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What Is IATA?

»Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Business Intel/Data Mining, Business Practices, Contracting for Travel Services, Global Distribution Systems, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

What does having an IATA mean? Do you need one to book a reservation on your own? Do I need to use the DTS to book my reservation? What amenities come with my room? It is not easy to get an IATA number but IATA numbers are basically the Travel agent’s ID number; this is also used to identify individual travel companies so that they will receive a commission check once the person has traveled to the destination.  When you put the IATA number in, it’s not for the discount…it’s so the companies know which travel agent to pay the commission to. To get the travel agency rate, you generally need to get the right rate codes (at least with rental cars & hotels – not sure how airlines interact with the GDS systems since they do not get paid...

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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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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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Post-Payment Travel Voucher Audits

»Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Electronic Travel Systems, Payment Methods, Travel Professional Resources | 0 comments

We perform post-payment travel voucher audits as a service to our customers.  These audits are not punitive in nature, but rather, they are meant to serve as an educational tool so that travelers can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  A checklist is used when performing the audit, so only items that are on the checklist are of concern.  We audit both the ETS part of the voucher and the accounting system entries.  The ETS part of the voucher is audited to ensure compliance with Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). The first item on the checklist is verifying that required receipts are attached.  This is perhaps one of the most frequently misunderstood parts of the voucher.  Travelers are often unsure whether some expenses require receipts or they...

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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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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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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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Government Sabre

»Posted by on Oct 20, 2011 in Travel Management Centers | 0 comments

Government Sabre is a product that enables travel agencies to streamline the travel booking process for government travelers.  Government Sabre delivers access to government negotiated rates, policy compliance automated at the point of sale, and automation to improve efficiency in the government travel booking process. Government Sabre includes access to government negotiated rates, policy compliance automated at the point of sales, automation to improve efficiency of overall government travel booking process, and provides access so the agent will only see government approved rates. Government Sabre offers the following features: Access to Preferred Rates. CONUS and OCONUS rates for lodging and transportation, which are approved government per diem rates. Rates...

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Data Mining, A Complete End-to-end Solution is Needed

»Posted by on Aug 14, 2011 in Business Intel/Data Mining | 0 comments

When it comes to data mining and collecting all of the information available to review compliance and leverage travel spend, once a completely integrated tool is developed and proven, we will still conduct our analysis the manual way.    The primary pieces that states have access to is the back end reporting provided by the travel agency and the credit card transaction reports. Oregon also has access to car rental information from our contracted car rental provider. Gathering airline and car rental spend is easy, just contact the TMC or car rental contractor.  The challenge that we face is gathering the hotel spend, especially the instate hotel spend where there is no air travel involved.   Since only ten percent of the states travelers use the...

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