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Possible New Bonvoy Government Rate Requirements

Possible New Bonvoy Government Rate Requirements

Old Mar 31, 19, 9:07 pm
  #1  
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Possible New Bonvoy Government Rate Requirements

I have been staying recently in Florida and am on a government project where we are told we have to book the government rate. We have written authorization for this rate as it is a long term project and have had to hop around hotels to whoever is offering the government rate for the week.

I have been working on this project for the last 6 months and show my government ID at check-in to verify eligibility. Over the past few weeks, I have been asked if I had a tax exempt form for my stay and I informed the person checking me in that my stay is not tax exempt to please charge me the taxes. I found this strange to ask but maybe someone wanted to make sure that I had the best rate. This is happening at both legacy SPG and Marriott properties.

Fast forward to two days ago and I tried to check in and then I was told I HAD to have a government-issued credit card in order to check in using the government rate and that the only way to have a tax-exempt stay would be to use this credit card. I told the check in person that I did not need a tax-exempt stay so that was not necessary. The check-in person apologized for the inconvenience but said they had a big meeting the day before I checked in and were given a new directive to only accept check-ins booked under the government rate with a government-issued ID card. They did not allow me to check in under that rate and said I could just cancel the reservation. I told them that was fine and walked my Lifetime Titanium Elite self (Over 2000 nights) to the Hyatt a couple of blocks away where the rest of the team stays on the government rate and that was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for me for Bonvoy. (The Hyatt is brand new construction and goes out of their way to have our team stay there on the government rate.)

Has anyone else run into this issue or is this the new way that Bonvoy trying to say Bon Voyage to more customers?
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Last edited by bdschobel; Apr 1, 19 at 1:32 am
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Old Mar 31, 19, 9:14 pm
  #2  
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Are you a government employee or a do you work for a government contractor?

Is this a USA federal government project or is it state/local government?

Check the terms for your government rate plan at the property. Some hotels have more than one government rate plan, often for the same rate, with different conditions, while the terms can also depend on the property. Also, some government rates seem to be designed for the military. Some government rates are fine for government employees to use for personal travel, which of course would not be tax exempt.

Nevertheless, the conditions at the time you made the reservation should prevail, not additional requirements that were imposed just before your arrival.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 10:24 pm
  #3  
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Government rate acceptance and rules are set by the individual property, not Marriott.
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Old Mar 31, 19, 10:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Xu Guan View Post
I have been staying recently in Florida and am on a government project where we are told we have to book the government rate. We have written authorization for this rate as it is a long term project and have had to hop around hotels to whoever is offering the government rate for the week.

I have been working on this project for the last 6 months and show my government ID at check-in to verify eligibility. Over the past few weeks, I have been asked if I had a tax exempt form for my stay and I informed the person checking me in that my stay is not tax exempt to please charge me the taxes. I found this strange to ask but maybe someone wanted to make sure that I had the best rate. This is happening at both legacy SPG and Marriott properties.

Fast forward to two days ago and I tried to check in and then I was told I HAD to have a government-issued credit card in order to check in using the government rate and that the only way to have a tax-exempt stay would be to use this credit card. I told the check in person that I did not need a tax-exempt stay so that was not necessary. The check-in person apologized for the inconvenience but said they had a big meeting the day before I checked in and were given a new directive to only accept check-ins booked under the government rate with a government-issued ID card. They did not allow me to check in under that rate and said I could just cancel the reservation. I told them that was fine and walked my Lifetime Titanium Elite self (Over 2000 nights) to the Hyatt a couple of blocks away where the rest of the team stays on the government rate and that was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for me for Bonvoy. (The Hyatt is brand new construction and goes out of their way to have our team stay there on the government rate.)

Has anyone else run into this issue or is this the new way that Bonvoy trying to say Bon Voyage to more customers?
Seems to me you're mixing issues

1. Military and federal civilian employees don't need a government credit card to use the government rate but that is one way of proving eligibility. Historically, Marriott government rates were at the per diem rate and didn't require the guest to be on official business. Some Starwood hotels, however, charged government rates higher than per diem and required the guest to be on official business. Marriott has allowed hotels to follow the Starwood policies. Hilton almost always follows the official business requirement but II've never had it enforced.

2. Some locales allow official stays to be tax exempt. The requirements of that vary from locale to locale but at least a couple of places in my experience require the use of a government credit card under the theory that the federal government is paying directly.


But ... since you're working on a government project with a letter ... sounds like you are not a federal employee, notwithstanding that you may have an access card. Cost reimburseable government contractors aren't eligible for the Marriott governem

Some hotels, however, are perfectly happy to allow government contractors to use the government rate even though they aren't technically eligible. I'm attaching the link to the official rules which look to be the same as always (other than allowing hotels to follow the legacy Starwood policy if they want to)

https://www.marriott.com/File%20Bloc...eals/chart.htm

And ... if there are several of you, why not just speak to the GM at the property you want to stay at? Tell the GM that there are X of you staying in the area for Y weeks and that you need a rate at or below the federal per diem rate. While you're at it, ask if they can throw in breakfast and parking. A few people on a several week long project have negotiating power. Like airlines, hotels watch their rates and stop offering government rates when they are full. But, I've had at least a couple of hotels over the years override that restriction when they know I'm a regular guest.

As this applies to government contractors seeking to use the government rate, this is a topic brought up several times over the years

No more government rate for contractors
https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/marriott-rewards/1616969-federal-gov-rate-being-enforced-more-strongly-now-starting-oct-2014-a.html


I acknowledge this can be frustrating. Government contractors are required to use the government rate but many hotels don't offer it to government contractors. It's all about the GM ....
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Last edited by C17PSGR; Mar 31, 19 at 10:49 pm
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Old Apr 1, 19, 8:11 pm
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[Realized this is largely a duplicate of the same points as [url=https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/members/c17psgr.html]C17PSGR -- apologies]

I do not think anything has changed.

https://www.marriott.com/help/rates-faqs.mi
"To be eligible for government discount rates, guests must be an active duty member of the military or current employee of any level of local, county, state, or federal government within the United States."

Government contractors--which is what it sounds like the OP is--are not eligible for Marriott government rates, at least officially:
https://www.marriott.com/File%20Bloc...eals/chart.htm

This is not new.

I'm a federal employee, and our office does sometimes have contractors work for our office who are only reimbursed per the government per diem rates. We issue them letters, etc., but the hotel is under no obligation to honor per diem or allow them to book the government rates. It's a property decision. Many will work with them because it's good business in many cases to do so. I'd suggest talking to the hotel management about your needs to work out an arrangement.
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Last edited by soitgoes; Apr 1, 19 at 8:13 pm Reason: add note
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Old Apr 1, 19, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by soitgoes View Post
[ Many will work with them because it's good business in many cases to do so. I'd suggest talking to the hotel management about your needs to work out an arrangement.
Exactly.

For example, I had a hotel that I would visit for a week several times for a year on official military travel. They wouldn't always have the whole week open. One morning before I was going to move to a CY, I ended up speaking with the GM and explaining I could commit informally to staying there 40 or 50 nights a year. He said they would override the rates on my stays as long as there wasn't a major convention in town.
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Old Apr 1, 19, 10:40 pm
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At this point FD personnel don't know whether Titanium is above or below Plat, so this level of nuance is likely to fall beyond their reach (and very likely that of their management/ownership). The state of FL has long had a tax exemption option via either a certificate or a photocopy of a gov credit card. Holding a gov credit card is not a qualifying requirement for a gov rate, however. I have several hundred SPG/Marriott nights in the state of FL under my belt, and I've only ever had to engage in debate on this a couple of times over the years (I've always ultimately prevailed in arguing the difference between qualifying for the rate via a government ID versus needing a government-issued CC).

So there's that last part to be considered, OP - do you at least have a CAC or something along that line to demonstrate that, although you may not hold a gov CC, you are at least affiliated with a government agency? If not, the hotel was right to turn you away. If so, they're confusing that which qualifies for a gov rate vs. that which qualifies for tax exemption. This is a FL/property issue more so than it is a Bonvoy issue.

Edit: In re-reading your original post, it's clear that you (OP) do indeed have some form of ID versus just a letter. So the hotel FD staff has been given poor direction from their management chain, apparently.

Last edited by CCIE_Flyer; Apr 1, 19 at 10:48 pm
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Old Apr 29, 21, 5:33 am
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Government rate UK

I have been using the government rate with Marriott for 10 years, never been asked for id (apart from Glasgow Marriott where the staff are trained by the Stasi). Since the merger with Starwood the wording changed. Now shows as Federal government rate. Used to say British government rate. I assumed it is good old Marriott IT not being able to cope with different wording for different countries, but I donít want to get tripped up on one stay where the saving is huge. Anyone else used the government rate recently??
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Old Apr 29, 21, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by stuartpig View Post
I have been using the government rate with Marriott for 10 years, never been asked for id (apart from Glasgow Marriott where the staff are trained by the Stasi). Since the merger with Starwood the wording changed. Now shows as Federal government rate. Used to say British government rate. I assumed it is good old Marriott IT not being able to cope with different wording for different countries, but I donít want to get tripped up on one stay where the saving is huge. Anyone else used the government rate recently??
Do you understand what "Stasi" was?

By the way you use it I am guessing you do not
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Old Apr 29, 21, 7:12 am
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Originally Posted by Out of my Element View Post
Do you understand what "Stasi" was?

By the way you use it I am guessing you do not
Off topic: "Ministerium fŁr Staatsicherheit", a movie describing one aspect of this intimidating organisation is "Der leben der anderen" .... and if stuartpig meant to use as a tongue in cheek metaphor for people wanting to have absolute control of who their guests are it was used correctly. However for some people growing up under the communist oppression in the GDR the joke is probably lost
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Old Apr 29, 21, 8:23 am
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The tax exempt issue has nothing to do with eligibility for a gov rate room. Tax exemption for government rate rooms differs state-by-state with different procedures and policies by state.

Rule number 1 with government rates: Always read the rate rules!

Marriott appears to have recently (within the last 6 weeks) instituted a small but significant change in the government rate rules across most (or maybe all) of their properties. Here's a sample of the updated rules I'm finding across multiple properties:
  • Non-Commissionable Rate
  • US Government (GOV) Per Diem rate:
  • - Rate is based on the current applicable Federal government
  • (govt) Per Diem rate, and subject to increase if the US General
  • Services Administration increases the applicable Federal govt
  • Per Diem rate before or on the guests arrival date.
  • - Please refer guests to www.gsa.gov for details.
  • - Available to US Federal govt and active duty military only.
  • - Limit of two rooms per night.
  • - Only eligible to government employees on official business
  • - Must show valid Federal Govt or Military ID at check-in.
  • Valid ID consists of:
  • - Federal Govt issued Visa, MasterCard, American Express
  • or Federal Govt picture ID (CAC or Common Access Card)
  • - Military picture ID or govt/military Travel Orders
  • - Federally Funded Research Development Corp (FFRDC) ID
  • - Canadian Govt or Military issued ID or credit card
  • - Native American Tribal Government ID
  • - If no valid ID, rate will be increased to best available rate.
  • - Govt Contractors, including Contractors working on govt Cost
  • Reimbursable Contract, are not eligible for the US govt rate.
  • - For reduced per diem requirement on stays longer than 30
  • days, please check in advance whether the hotel will
  • accommodate such rates or not.
(Bolding mine)

The caveat about "Only eligible to government employees on official business" is the big change from the prior rules. Previously most properties would allow government employees to use the gov rate for leisure trips (while not on official travel). This policy seems to have changed, and is likely what the front desk agent was referring to when they mentioned the "big meeting". Note that this change aligns with Hilton's policy which also typically restricts gov rates to travelers on official business.

However, the front desk agent also seems to be misinterpreting the rate rules about the use of the government issued CC. The rules for the government issued CC have always stated:
Valid ID consists of: Federal Govt issued Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Federal Govt picture ID (CAC or Common Access Card)
The reason for the "or" clause is simple: Not all government employees or military members carry a government CC. At my agency a person generally needs to travel more than 4 times a year before they'll be required to get the CC, so there are plenty of government employees staying at Marriott properties on legitimate government business without using a gov CC. This is where the front desk agent got tangled up...

OTOH, based on the OP describing a "written authorization" for a government rate it sounds like they are a contractor rather than a gov employee. Unfortunately for the OP, in this case Marriott's gov rate rules have had the "Govt Contractors, including Contractors working on govt Cost Reimbursable Contract, are not eligible for the US govt rate" clause in them for many years. As mentioned by others, a lot of properties will overlook this restriction, but it is legitimate for a property to deny the government rate to a government contractor. The government also routinely issues CAC IDs to government contractors. These IDs clearly note that the holder is a contractor (not a government employee), so simply having a CAC does not confer eligibility for a gov rate room.
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Old Apr 30, 21, 3:43 am
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I travel, comparatively, more than most local government employees. I try to get the government rate as often as possible to save a few dollars. Occasionally I've been asked for ID. Shown with no issue. Frankly most front desk don't know what they're looking at.

I don't use the rate for personal travel-ethics. (I know of a former colleague who used the rate for a personal weekend trip at a pricey property. The property made a call, on Monday, to my employer to find out if he was in town for official business...lodged a complaint. I don't think anything came of it.)
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Old Apr 30, 21, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by PHLGovFlyer View Post

Marriott appears to have recently (within the last 6 weeks) instituted a small but significant change in the government rate rules across most (or maybe all) of their properties.

The caveat about "Only eligible to government employees on official business" is the big change from the prior rules. Previously most properties would allow government employees to use the gov rate for leisure trips (while not on official travel). This policy seems to have changed, and is likely what the front desk agent was referring to when they mentioned the "big meeting". Note that this change aligns with Hilton's policy which also typically restricts gov rates to travelers on official business.
.
I have noticed it too. It changed sometime in the last 4 weeks or so.

Unfortunately like all sweeping rule changes it catches old reservations that were made before the change. Having stayed in two properties this week it was not an issue. But for future far out reservations it would be.

It was always the deciding factors to choose Marriott over Hilton because of that limitation. Not any more.
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Old Apr 30, 21, 6:21 pm
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This sucks... I have a couple of stays coming up on the fed rate and while I am sure I could argue that they can't just unilaterally change the terms of the rate like that, I really just don't have the energy to deal with Marriott. Guess I'm cancelling and looking elsewhere.
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Old Apr 30, 21, 9:03 pm
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I will just sum it up. The hotels do want this business right now. There is a labor shortage. They can not run at full capacity correctly so they want the highest paying customers only
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