Not too long ago, federal workers made their own reservations (all travel approved by higher authority). So long as we did not go over the GSA rate, everyone was happy. We no longer get to make our own reservations and even when Marriott is one of several hotels at the GSA rate, I never get to stay at one these days. Does anyone know what the deal is?
I work for a company, and every year they contract with a hotel chain Lucky for me it has been Marriott. Some years there have been contracts with a 2nd chain, with the other one alternately being either the Hilton or the Hyatt.
When I do my expense report, my charges have to come in electronically from my company credit card, and they have to be for approved vendors or I will not get reimbursed.
The only time have been able to get around it, is when I have trip somewhere there is not a Marriott, or if its a conference and we are required to stay in the hotel the conference is held in, and then it has been allowed, but I had to have it preapproved prior to the trip for the systems to correctly process it. And it usually required approval from a VP, and booked through our corporate travel group or corporate online system.
They do the same thing with our air and train tickets.
My understanding is that the lower corporate rate we get is based on the company having a certain volume of business with that chain, or we lose the lower rate.
Has the government perhaps gone down this path?
Another example is Amtrak which we use for our east coast travel. We have to use the company rate, even when my AAA rate is lower. I was told it because it jepordizes the rate across the board for the company by lowering the volume from our company
Seems like alot of large organizations are going to this.
When I was working in consulting and had to travel alot, I told them I didn't mind being on the road but that I wanted to choose my own travel vendors, so we had a agreement that as long as it was within $100 of the company preferred vendor it was okay to do. Couple of times my preferred vendors had higher prices, and I negotiated with them to bring it within $100 of the company preferred so I could continue using them. But it was a small company. The larger ones, have volume based pricing in their contracts, and automated systems to enforce it. The small company it was an excel spreadsheet that I faxed or emailed.
Dale, I think it depends on what part of the federal gov't you work for. I'm a federal employee, and we can make our own reservations as long as the rate falls below per diem for the area. Granted, travel requests are being scrutinized, and ours have to be approved by our CO. They are also "encouraging" booking at BOQs whenever possible. Also, keep in mind that you can always get the government rates at Marriott properties for personal travel!
Yes, that's correct Pluto! Or sometimes called a VOQ (visiting officer's quarter). But, civilians stay there too. I've never stayed at one for free, but the rates are low. I can recall anywhere from $10 to $25 per night. The benefits are the low cost and being convenient to business at the base (no waiting in the security line in the morning). The downside: They are often substandard accomodations with old or cheap furniture, they sometimes smell, and come with limited amenities. There are some where you even have to share a bathroom with your neighbor! The rule of thumb is the higher your rank or pay grade, the better room you get. I can recall only one that was pretty decent, and most have kitchenettes. Bottom line, I normally try to avoid them, but with the increased scrutiny on federal travel (thanks to some congressmen in Vegas), it's getting harder.
The term BOQ generally refers to base lodging for service members on temporary duty to a base away from their home base. As some have pointed out, they are at a much reduced rate compared to local hotels, but keep in mind the rate charged is based on the per diem rate for that particular base. In the Air Force, the rates are, for the most part, standardized worldwide and the cost for a room is $39, for a suite, $42, and for a DV suite, $48. DV suites are reserved for use by 0-6 thru 0-10 for commissioned officers and for E-9 enlisted rank. Having stayed in many of these DV suites during my final few years on active duty and in my nearly 20 years in retirement, I can tell you that in most cases, they are very nice. Back to the cost per night, since this is based on the local base per diem rate, whatever the GI pays, that's what they will get reimbursed for that night's lodging. No longer available for $10--$25 per night, but I recall my first stay in a BAQ as an E-3 at Craig AFB, Alabama cost me $4.00 while hitchhiking from CA to GA upon return from S.E. A. tour #1. And breakfast in the chow hall was a quarter...for all I wanted to eat! As for shared bathrooms, they are quickly becoming a fixture of the past in the Air Force. The AF standard now is a private bathroom for all ranks. My leisure travel now which often is by car allows me to stay at base lodging on many AF bases. In fact, this labor day weekend will find my wife in a very nice suite at Offutt AFB. This is certainly one of the best perks of military retirement...next to the golf courses that is. I've played 110 of the military courses worldwide. Still more to explore.
Have relatives that are retired military, and they also make use of this when traveling, especially in Europe. My dad has traveled with them, and its very reasonable, though he and his wife had to fly commercial air, while they flew military standby. Great retirement benefit.