The travel rules require that the lowest available lodging rate be obtained when traveling on official state business (see Section 3000.410 of the travel rules). To avoid problems when making reservations, checking-in, checking-out, completing travel vouchers, paying hotel bills, etc., employees should use the following guidelines:
- Hotels listed in the Fiscal Year 2015 Preferred Hotel Listing must always be contacted first when seeking overnight accommodations. In general, lodging is only allowed at hotels which do not appear on the Preferred Hotel Listing if:
- The rate offered is lower than the rates of preferred hotels in the area, or
- There are no preferred hotels in the area in which lodging is required, or
- The traveler is staying at a hotel while attending a non-state sponsored conference (see Section 2800.400 of the travel rules), or
- A newly-opened hotel in the area has agreed to offer a rate which is the same or lower than that of preferred hotels in the area.
- Policies regarding lodging rate exceptions can be found in this guide. Contact your agency Travel Coordinator for applicable procedures in your agency.
- Many hotels in the Preferred Hotel Listing offer state rates based on room availability. Hotels are not obligated to always offer the “state” rate.
- Reservations should be made as far in advance as possible. Guarantee reservations when necessary. Always ask the hotel about its cancellation policy. In busier times, cancellation policies will sometimes require the traveler to cancel 72 hours in advance or be charged for the room. If you must cancel a reservation, do so before the deadline. If you make a reservation for several nights in succession, ask the hotel about their early check-out policy. Some hotels charge an early check-out fee if a guest checks out prior to their scheduled departure date.
- Always show proper identification to prove state employment when checking-in. Hotels will normally accept a state-issued ID card as sufficient identification.
- Confirm that the "state" rate will be received. This should be done when making the reservation, when checking-in and when checking-out. Remember, the "state" rate may be different than the "government" rate. The "government" rate, in many cases, applies to federal government travel. Make certain the "state" rate quoted is within the maximum allowed by the rules contained in this document. If working with a preferred hotel, use this guide to verify the hotel is quoting the state's negotiated rate.
- Carefully review the bill upon check-out to ensure that the room charge reflects the appropriate rate and that no unauthorized charges have been added. For example, some hotels will automatically add a security charge or phone usage charge to your bill. If these services are not used, the charges should be removed before checking-out.
- If direct billing, be sure all personal or incidental charges are paid when checking-out (i.e., pay movies, personal phone calls, etc.).
- Be sure to obtain a copy of the hotel bill to attach to the travel voucher.
- If traveling by car, inquire regarding self parking options. Many hotels only offer Valet Parking which is not a reimbursable expense.