Extended Stay Lodging Providers Offer Ways to Lower Government Travel Costs
Extended Stay Lodging (ESL) provides many benefits for government professionals traveling on the nation’s business. ESL’s are usually less expensive than traditional hotels and offer a home-like atmosphere and amenities.
However, choosing the right ESL provider for your government organization involves more than just examining which benefits of the long-term lodging experience are available from which provider. When making travel arrangements, government managers are tasked with finding not only the lowest cost option, but the option that delivers the best value.
This white paper explores the advantages ESL offers federal travelers over more traditional alternatives, and why it is important to select the right provider for your government organization.
While tending to the business of government, a significant number of federal employees must travel to and remain in places far from their home offices for extended periods of time. Federal travel guidelines provide a per diem to cover an employee’s stay away from home, including meals. However, several weeks of staying in a hotel could easily cost the government thousands of dollars, even at government-established preferred room rates.
When you add the money spent eating every meal at a restaurant and paying other incidentals such as a daily rate for parking and Internet access, it becomes even more difficult to economize. If the hotel room in which a government traveler stays is selected primarily for its lower cost, it could be so small and uncomfortable that it may impact the productivity of the traveler when it comes to doing the job he or she has been sent to do.
Renting an apartment might alleviate some of the cost of living for an extended period in a hotel, but that could be offset by the need to set up and pay for utilities, including Internet access. In addition, renting an apartment usually means either agreeing to a fixed-term lease, often up to a full year, or paying more each month for a month-to month lease so your traveler can leave when the job is done.
The establishment of ESL for business travelers directly addressed the financial and productivity shortcomings of the hotel-based alternative. Extended stay properties are usually furnished apartments that provide the conveniences of home, including a fully equipped kitchen and in-unit laundry facilities. Some accommodations include complimentary breakfasts, free or inexpensive WiFi access, and daily housekeeping. In the majority of cases, the rates at an extended stay lodging option are considerably lower than what a traveler might pay at a hotel in a given area.
Avoiding the Hidden Costs
In addition to the room rates of a traditional hotel, there are many hidden costs a government travel coordinator might not be aware of when considering hotels versus extended stay lodging.
These graphs illustrate the significant savings that may come from selecting extended stay lodging instead of a hotel room for a 30-plus day stay in a major U.S. city.
From this graph, it is easy to see that hidden costs like taxes, tips and paying for Internet access can push already-high hotel room rates even higher.
Cut Costs with Fully Equipped Kitchens
Just as you will uncover hidden costs in a hotel room stay, you will discover hidden savings when choosing an ESL provider.
For example, when government travelers stay in a hotel, dining out or ordering room service can become quite costly. By preparing meals in a kitchen, dining costs can be reduced. Over a long stay, this can add up to a significant sum. However, in an ESL property with a fully equipped kitchen, they can make their per diem allowance go further by buying groceries and preparing their own meals.
The illustration below demonstrates just how far $20 can go when spent in a grocery store instead of a hotel restaurant.
By shopping, cooking and eating in for at least a few meals each week, government personnel can substantially cut per diem expenditures while still dining out from time-to-time.
When selecting the right ESL provider for your government agency, it is important to remember that, contrary to popular belief, the most significant goal in government procurement is not to find the lowest cost provider. It is to find the provider that offers the best value — getting the most for the money your organization spends in the service of America.
The Right ESL Provider Helps You be at Your Best
The ESL provider you choose should offer a unique mix of best value services and worldwide locations, and support government travelers in achieving their missions, wherever those missions may take them. The company should help you increase worker productivity by providing government travelers with a home-like environment and unprecedented customer care. At the same time, the cost of staying in one of their accommodations should usually be less than in a standard hotel, and among ESLs themselves, there is a range of price levels, offering more ways for government agencies to reduce expenditures.
What to Expect from an Extended Stay Lodging Provider
Worldwide accommodations with best-in-class services to deliver custom ESL solutions for each agency’s mission, personnel and policies. When choosing an ESL solution, your provider should have full-time staff members available to handle service requests and customer inquiries around the clock, so the company can respond to an agency’s specific needs quickly and efficiently. Customer care should begin before an agency makes a reservation and continue long after the traveler returns home.
More living space than a standard hotel room or suite. Accommodations should include separate living, dining and sleeping areas, a full-size and fully equipped kitchen, and complete furnishings including linens. Travelers should also have access to guaranteed laundry facilities, business centers, fitness centers, swimming pools and hot tubs in most locations.
Operate on a truly federal scale. The provider you choose should have ESL accommodations available around the world, in places near federal worksites and programs, to ensure a proper lodging solution in the places needed.
Extensive experience in the federal space. To serve government clients, the provider you choose should understand federal processes. It should be able to help federal clients manage costs with account management tools developed to specifically address the government’s need for both accountability and transparency. The provider should also train and provide on-site personnel at select facilities to understand and support the needs of specific agency programs.
Offer efficient, stress-free travel procurement. Government travelers should be able to book accommodations through government-approved channels, like GSA Schedule 48, E-Gov Travel Service, and FedRooms, as well as all major Global Distribution Systems (GDS). The company should also honor all Government issued credit cards, as well as offer GDS pre-approved rates. In addition, there should be no service tax for official extended stay travelers.
Controlled-access lodgings. When possible, some accommodations should include physical security and life safety systems, and a secured Web portal for data protection in the event a government traveler requires higher security Internet access.
For a cost-effective, best value alternative to hotel rooms for government travelers, agencies should select an extended stay lodging provider with global scale, extensive government knowledge, tight service integration and continuous customer care. The accommodations provided should be both home-like and cost-effective, with amenities that increase worker productivity and make it easier for travelers to feel comfortable and rested in an unfamiliar location. The right ESL provider should also provide the support government travelers need to keep them focused on their missions.