Lesson 6: Making Reservations
What is the Travel Management System/Commercial Travel Office for airline, lodging and car rental?
As a federal government traveler on official travel, you are required to use the Travel Management System selected by your agency for all common carrier, lodging and car rental arrangements. Only the head of your agency or his/her designee may exempt certain types of travel arrangements from the mandatory use of the Travel Management System.
At most agencies, you will make travel reservations through your agency’s Travel Management Center (TMC) or Commercial Travel Office (CTO) if you work at the Department of Defense. The TMC/CTO may charge your agency a fee for processing the transaction. If there are several transactions, such as transportation and lodging reservations, the fee may be lower if you make all arrangements at the same time. Generally, the TMC/CTO pays for airline tickets using your agency’s travel CBA, so these charges will not appear on your GSA SmartPay® Individually Billed Account (IBA) Travel card/account. However, please check with your agency as some may require you to use your IBA travel card/account for airline tickets.
What are the benefits of the TMC/CTO?
There are several benefits to having the TMC/CTO make your reservations:
- Compliance with the Fly America Act, governmentwide travel policies, contract city pair fares, electronic ticketing and ticket delivery.
- Compliance with the Hotel/Motel Fire Safety Act.
- FedRooms consideration and benefits:
- Provides Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant hotel rooms for federal government travelers on official business.
- Customers receive benefits such as best price/value (at or below per diem), policy compliant hotels, flexibility when canceling, a variety of booking channels and quality lodging worldwide.
- Hotels are educated in state tax exempt policy and procedures.
For lodging reservations placed outside of FedRooms, make sure to ask:
- Is the facility on the FEMA list of fire safe lodging?
- What is the hotel’s cancellation policy? Be sure to cancel within the appropriate times if you will not be using the room. Most hotels charge for last minute cancellations or no-shows.
- What is the late arrival policy?
- When does the hotel charge your GSA SmartPay Travel card/account? This is important because it will affect your ability to receive timely reimbursement from your agency.
- Does the hotel honor the state tax exemption policy? Some states are tax exempt for GSA SmartPay Travel IBAs. If you are traveling to a state which does not grant tax exemptions, taxes are reimbursable. Before leaving for travel, make sure you know the tax exempt policy for your destination by checking the GSA SmartPay website.
For airline reservations:
- Use of City Pair fares is mandatory unless a valid exception is listed in the FTR 301-10.107.
- FTR requires that the more highly discounted “CA” fare be considered first and chosen if available and meets mission requirements.
- In order to obtain a refund for unused or partially used tickets, the traveler is responsible for contacting the travel agent, the TMC/CTO or airline (if tickets were purchased directly from the airline).