More aggravation with Hyatt and federal government rates

Discussion in 'Hyatt | Gold Passport' started by jfhscott, Nov 1, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    I've kvetched before about searching for the government rate on Hyatt.com. But this is a new one for me.

    First, by "government rate", I refer to the maximum reimbursable rate for official government travel. The General Services Administration sets these rates for the 48 states (DOD sets AK & HI), and they vary according to destination and month of the year. No hotel is ever required to make a single room available at this set rate - simply, if that amount is advantageous, it is at their option to offer it.

    Hyatt.com provides a button one may click to search for the "a" government rate, and I have found it to identify rooms at the reimbursable rate maybe 75% of the time. Often what purports to be a government rate exceeds the reimbursable rate. I will not delve into semantics, but I submit that the term "government rate" is understood in the industry to be the GSA reimbursable rate and not some sort of a discount. Some people - often those who are not government travelers - disagree.

    Lately, I've been noticing that hyatt.com is doing a poor job adjusting for seasonal fluctuations. One property in Boston I've stayed at keeps offering a December federal rate of $221, when that federal rate (as defined above) declines to $158. ($221 is correct for October, however). It seems that they want to get it right, but, somehow, at times cannot load the system to account for seasonal fluctuations. Yes, it is the federal traveler's responsibility to verify that what purports to be a government rate is indeed reimbursable, and the federal traveler eats any difference out of pocket, but some help would be appreciated.

    Just now, I encountered something completely new. I tried to book the Hyatt Regency Chicago for 11/13-14. It offered a state government rate of $130, which I suppose is the Illinois state government rate for that period. No federal government rate was available despite the federal reimbursable rate being $190. I went so far as to call the property to inquire about getting a room at the federal government rate, but no luck. The agent explained that they make only a limited number of rooms available at the federal government rate. To provide points of reference, the current "Hyatt Daily Rate" is $279, the "Winter Sale Rate" is $195.30, and the "AAA rate" is $251.20. As a very crude rule of thumb, I have found that Hyatts and Marriotts generally will make the federal government rate available when that rate is 2/3 of the basic internet rate for the night in question. (That is, they want the basic internet rate, but will settle for 2/3 of it, lest a room end up unoccupied.

    This is the first time I've heard that the federal rate is capacity controlled by any property - rather, in my experience, properties will make unlimited rooms available at the government rate so long as that rate is advantageous for the night in question.

    Another very odd phenomenon has recently arisen - I've researched government rate availability at some properties, and the ONLY room types for which there is availability are the ADA compliant rooms. I've never completed such a booking, but would feel very odd doing so when I do not need an ADA compliant room. Again, they may choose what they offer.

    Oh, one more bit of advice for federal travelers - your searches are more likely to yield accurate reimbursable rates if you enter 81538 as the corporate/group number - that is the "Fedrooms" rate.

    NONE of this should be interpreted as suggesting any entitlement to a room anywhere at a fixed rate. Its a free market, after all. It just recounts my own most recent experiences and frustrations.

    I've booked at the Marriott Magnificent Mile.
     
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  2. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I've noticed that the definitions of who can use state (and local) government rates seem to vary, as well as the identification requirements. This could be a problem if you don't look at the T&C for these government rates carefully.
     
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  3. Explore
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    Explore Silver Member

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    What you're reporting is a symptom of a tightening hotel market. Almost no new hotels have been opened in the U.S. in the past couple of years, while demand has staged something of a comeback. Accordingly, hotels may use various yield management strategies including more sophisticated capacity controls. Keep your options open by discounting loyalty to specific hotel programs. You don't get that much for top-tier relative to the potential cost, unless you're on the road constantly and your work pays.
     
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  4. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Well, there is some semantic debate as to whether "government rate" means (1) the GSA-determined reimbursable rate or (2) a rate which reflects some sort of a discount, whether or not it is fully reimbursable. I subscribe to the former, and submit that within the industry, that is the commonly held understanding. My experience with Hyatt.com indicates that they try to apply the former definition, but that they do so poorly. Hence my noting that a search in Boston for a December stay yielded a room at the October government rate for Boston - it just seems the data have not been loaded terribly well.

    As for Hyatt's T&C's, they do not explicitly promise that they reflect the GSA-determined reimbursable rates, any "promise" is imbedded in the definition of "government rate". I do note that on Marriott.com, they (1) identify the rate as the reimbursable rate (2) reserve the right to increase the rate after making the reservation in the event that the reimbursable rate increases, and (3) on the RARE occasions that what they term a government rate is not the reimbursable rate, it is very prominently flagged.

    I truly like Hyatt. And their customer service is top notch - but it has to be, as this is another example of how their IT is pretty poor, necessitating excellent customer service as a backstop.
     
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  5. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Absolutely.

    And in a free market - which I cherish - it is the property's prerogative to extract what it thinks it can from the customer.

    I have never perceived the government rate as being formally capacity controlled (e.g. 15 rooms per night). Until today, I generally perceived the government rate as being available more as a function of the going rate of the price of a room as determined by complex, proprietary, yield management formulas (with 2/3 of "going" rate being a crude rule of thumb for when the government rate is attractive to a property). And I truly was surprised today that the Hyatt Regency Chicago would make a room available to state workers for $130, but the $190 I could be reimbursed was not good enough for them.

    But I don't own the place.
     
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  6. PDXEcon

    PDXEcon New Member

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    Gents, I stay at the Hyatt regularly on overseas consulting projects for government clients and generally they are close to the DOD overseas reimbursement rates, but not always. My thoughts on what "government rate" means in the hotel industry is that it is a lower rate for government employees (and sometimes consultants & contractors) traveling on official business (some chains allow leisure travel) because of the per diem allowances for government travel are fixed by each government entity. I think we all need to realize that there are a large number of different government agencies with different per diem rates and it is unrealistic to expect the hotel industry to keep up with the various rates, some of which change monthly. I occasionally travel to Canada, eh? and noticed that some chains have separate rates for Gov Canada, US Gov and US State gov. If you don't like the government rate at the Hyatt, you can always stay at Brand X. :)
     
  7. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I'm pretty sure I've seen Hilton properties (and Starwood properties?) offer "government" rates that exceed GSA per diem, which suggests that #2 is not an unreasonable definition, and I don't fault Hyatt for what they're doing here.

    I understand this is unfortunate for the travelers with uncooperative employers (e.g. the USG).
     
  8. ronin308

    ronin308 Active Member

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    I don't recall seeing Hilton offering different Federal Govt rates, but they did offer differing state and federal contractor rates at least in the Seattle area over the summer. In some cases the federal contractor rate was less than the federal employee rate.
     
  9. Dan M.

    Dan M. Silver Member

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    In my experience as a federal government employee the least 3 years and a half, Hyatt is terrible about showing the actual per-diem level government rate anywhere outside of Washington Dc, and especially overseas. Meanwhile, Marriott almost always seems to have the actual per-diem level rate, even overseas.
     
  10. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    I'm looking at the Andaz Maui and wondering if I can use the state government rate as I'm a state gov worker in Ca
     
  11. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    here are the rate rules: think, as a diamond, I will be able to use this rate as a California state employee?

    Rate Rules
    STATE GOVERNMENT RATE AVL for State Government employees only Must have ACTIVE State ID at check in For Federal Government employees sell the GVDS Rate Plan -Up to 2 rooms under one name at booking but at check-in one valid ID required per room
     
  12. 365RoadWarrior

    365RoadWarrior Silver Member

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    For leisure travel?!
     
  13. jfhscott
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    jfhscott Silver Member

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    Well, you theoretically can, but I am surprised that the state government rate would be made available as so exceptional a property. Do bear in mind that no property is required to make state or federal governmental rates available.
     
  14. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    I decided not to take part as it seemed unethical so I booked cash and points instead. Anyone know how much a cab (or uber?) is from OGG to the Andaz?
     
  15. afakhori

    afakhori Silver Member

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    The rate fluctuates, but right now it's between $325/n-$369/n I booked at the $325/n (fed) rate and next day it bounced up.

    They had these rates for both Fed and State.
     

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