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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 commission on the airlines but are paid by a fee that is attached to the booking).
Since SATO has an IATA number and SATO gets $1 per night spent in a hotel from the hotels. For IATA cardholders they receive commission from hotels and sometime the airlines gives them breaks on airfares and/or sometimes the airlines give them upgrades from coach to first class.
When a traveler books online it is called the Global Distribution System, also known as the GDS system. Traveling on government orders you are not allowed to use 3rd party website, such as Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. Even if it is a better rate than the government per diem, most hotels offer the government per diem in their hotel. The rate code in most cases would be GM or GOV.
You are allowed to book reservations on your own without using the DTS also if you have stayed at the hotel and you know that it is approved government hotel — by all means call the hotel directly. This will take out the middleman such as travel agents and SATO but you would know exactly what you are booking. Besides most of the time you have a favorite hotel and you know which room you want, how you want your room and what amenities come with that room to make you more comfortable.
I have heard from a lot of the government travelers that comes through my hotel, that the older government travelers are just used to having certain items while traveling so they will also look for those items while choosing to stay in a hotel when they travel. Examples include free Internet access, breakfast included, gym, and social hours.
Working in the hotel industry I have heard from some of the government travelers that they are required to book through the DTS. But also if your travel manager books you through the DTS and you are not happy with the accommodations, you must stay one night and they can move to your desired government approved hotel.
Sometimes the traveler would like a hotel with a Gym or perhaps a swimming pool. I have heard that some government travelers would want to save their food per diem and are looking for extended stay accommodations such as larger refrigerators, stove tops, pots n pans, and utensils. This way they would be able to save more money instead of eating out all the time. Others might be looking for the kind of food that is already prepared to eat as soon as they get up or right after they get off work. The hotels breakfast or social hour have been taken away slowly in the past few years to try to save the hotels money, but I noticed that they are coming back with these programs to capture the government travelers.
Through my own personal view I have noticed that since the economy has turned from less leisure travelers, for an example we have 55% of June revenue entirely with government business. 10% group, 12% wholesalers such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and Priceline and a mere 23% leisure travel.
So our hotel is looking at offering items they never had to offer due to the location of our hotel. Right on he Beach in San Diego! We need to capture more government travelers the hotels and the government travelers are also looking at what they can do to offset those extra traveling expenses, such as parking fee, Internet fees, food and beverages, gym memberships and how they can save their food per diem
On almost a daily basis we have calls coming in and asking these same questions, what do we offer for government travelers or better yet can we have breakfast with our reservations, and waive the parking fee? So we are looking at the government on what we can offer them to help them save their food per diem and also to help the hotel generate more government business to generate higher revenues.
by Kimberly Hubbard