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When making reservations at a hotel, it is best to try all of the special rates one might be eligible for, as the price may vary greatly depending on whether you are an AAA member, an AARP member, a senior (which could vary from being 50 years or older to being 62 years or older), a member of a special group, or an employee of a special corporate group.
I am a government employee, but I do not travel for work. Often hotels (as well as car rental companies, and even Amtrak) will offer discount rates for government employees. When booking hotels, I have found that the special government rates can be wonderful, but often perplexing.
Here are some of my observations.
1.Government rates are nearly always refundable.
2. At certain hotels, if you are eligible for a government rate, you are entitled to book two rooms at the government rate.
3. Government rates sometimes include breakfast for one or two guests.
4. Government rates can disappear, especially when there is a popular event in the city the weekend you are looking to book. Again, book early to lock the rate in.
5. In certain states, the government rate is more expensive than the hotel’s advance or daily rate, which generally ends that inquiry. The government rate offered often ties in to the given state’s daily hotel allowance for employee travel.
6. In most instances, eligibility for a government rate depends solely on the fact that you are a government employee, and NOT that your travel or hotel stay is work-related. However, check the rate qualifications to make sure of this.
7. Hotels, even within the same chain, vary greatly on the government rates available, and the qualifications for those rates. In some instances, there may be no government rate available, or only a rate available for federal, but not state employees. Some define “state” broadly, others limit “state” to those employed by the state in which the hotel is located. There is no rhyme or reason to these many variations.
8. Some hotel chains search engines make searching for a government rate and availability easy, some are a pain in the #@#ss!
9. If the hotel has a government rate available, but I do not meet the qualifications, either because the rate is limited to Federal employees or employees of the Hotel’s state, I have had a lot of success by calling the hotel directly and asking the manager to extend the rate to me. (file this under “it never hurts to ask” category).
10. Some smaller boutique hotels may not advertise a government rate online, but will offer one if you phone.
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