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New lodging program helps guarantee rooms

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 02, 2002) -- Military travelers will soon be required to consider government-contracted hotels before others when traveling inside the continental United States.

The new requirement, set to begin about Nov. 1, is part of the Federal Premier Lodging Program, run by the General Services Administration. The FPLP benefits travelers by contracting with hotels in key cities where federal employees do business to guarantee a specific number of available rooms at a specific price.

"The federal travel regulation will require you look at FPLP properties first," said Patrick McConnell, program manager for the FPLP. "Under the per diem process, you were not guaranteed a room. What FPLP does is get properties to guarantee rooms, especially where we compete with corporate and leisure travel."

Hotels wanting an FPLP contract are required to meet certain safety and accessibility requirements, as well as have a restaurant nearby. If a traveler feels the establishment does not meet his or her mission requirements, finds that the FPLP hotel is full, or finds a less-expensive place to stay, he or she may book reservations elsewhere, McConnell said.

"[This is the] best way to meet laws requiring federal employees to stay in motels and hotels that meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency's fire and safety requirements," McConnell said.

When all contracts with lodging facilities have been finalized, the program will be in about 75 cities. The FPLP Web site lists lodging facilities currently contracted with the FPLP.