Contractor to run governmentwide hotel booking program

Employees traveling on official government business will start booking their hotel rooms through a contractor on Friday, the General Services Administration announced last week.

When existing contracts expire Thursday, CW Government Travel Inc. will start managing and marketing the two-year-old Federal Premier Lodging Program on a one-year task order with four one-year options. FPLP guarantees that a certain number of rooms will be available within the per diem rate in specific geographical areas.

CWGT, a subsidiary of the Minneapolis-based Carlson Co., a global travel company, will negotiate hotel room rates for the more than 93,000 daily federal travelers, a plan based on a recommendation from the Governmentwide Per Diem Advisory Board to leverage partnerships with the travel industry to get the best hotel rates for federal travelers.

CGWT will help government travelers find hotel rooms that meet Federal Emergency Management Agency fire safety standards in the 95 cities included in the lodging program.

The 13-member advisory panel, which is made up of travel industry officials and state and local government representatives, recommended that the lodging program be contracted out in January 2003 in order to help streamline and improve travel management.

"GSA's partnership with industry is consistent with world-class travel management, adding value to the travel products and services we provide to federal agencies," said Tim Burke, eTravel program manager, in a news release. "This FPLP transformation plays an important role in the development of 'One-GSA-Travel.' "

Designing a governmentwide lodging program has been challenging for federal officials, and GSA executives often look to the lodging and travel industry for advice on what the best practices are in order to duplicate them in GSA's lodging program.

"This was a logical next step for such a successful government program," said Rick Freda, FPLP program coordinator. "GSA still oversees the program, while participating hotels and federal travelers get the benefit of a world-class hospitality management company."

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