Government Connections - Fall 2010 - (Page 23)
TRAVEL TIPS & TRENDS
Is a Free Meal Really Free?
QUESTION: When on official travel, if a hotel provides a complimentary meal, do you need to deduct that from your daily meals and incidental expense (M&IE) allowance? ANSWER: No. Sometimes a free meal is free! Most of us have stayed in a hotel with a complimentary breakfast provided to all guests; it’s usually a small continental breakfast, but some hotels provide a hot spread, too. You might have stayed in a hotel that provides breakfast to government employees as an incentive to gain your business. W. Lynn Hodges, an employee of the Department of Agriculture, stayed in just such a property while on official travel in Philadelphia. This hotel advertised (on various websites) complimentary breakfast to any federal employee staying at the hotel. The Department of Agriculture took the position that the meals were provided by the government in connection with an agency meeting and, therefore, under the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), their cost should be deducted from claimant’s daily M&IE. (41 CFR 301-11.18) “There is no evidence in the record that the agency specifically negotiated or paid for the breakfast(s) in question. We conclude that the breakfasts were furnished by the hotel on a complimentary basis, and not by the government. The regulations are clear when it comes to such complimentary meals – no deduction from M&IE per diem is to be taken.” G
I KNOW THERE WAS A RESTAURANT HERE LAST MONTH…
Notice more and more attendees walking in with their coffee in the morning? Hotel management companies have noticed, too. Hotels, many of which have restaurants with a reputation (often unfair) of being expensive and slow, are fighting declining sales in traditional hotel restaurants with food courts, grab and go options and to-go room service menus. Business travel is far more hurried than ever before, so every minute counts. Be on the lookout for more self service options coming to a property near you. G
SEAT WARS 2010
Wifi, easy access power outlets, touch-screen TV, more effective uses of space. No it’s not the amenity list of a hip and trendy boutique hotel, but of the often-maligned coach seat on your favorite airline. After decades of removing services, airlines have been adding services back to their premium cabins for years, and the back of the jets are starting to see attention, as well. Recent successful upstart airlines have introduced more creature comforts, and now the major airlines are beginning to update their fleets to the same high tech standards. Sorry, still can’t do anything about the middle seat, but at least you have something to look at now. For more information about airlines providing wifi on board, visit gogoinflight.com. G
THIS REALLY IS LIKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION NOW!
Stand-up comics have chronicled the decline of domestic airline service; many have compared U.S. domestic airlines to public transportation. Continental Airlines recently began testing a new boarding system on one gate at their hub in Houston, Texas. Basically, the new system looks like a subway gate. The passenger scans their own boarding pass, which opens up the turn style. German flag carrier Lufthansa has successfully used a similar system in Germany for years. Airline spokespersons applaud this new technology as it now allows the gate agents to perform other pre-departure tasks during boarding. Self check-in, printing boarding passes, subway-style boarding – OK. But if asked to work the flight, that might be going too far. Check out information about Continental’s new boarding gates at Continental.com. G
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Government Connections - Fall 2010
Government Connections - Fall 2010
Travel Tips and Trends
Good to Know
Dieting on a Per Diem
The Lean Approach to E-mail Management
Connecting to the Next Generation
Cows, People and Flying
Get to Know Your Future Colleagues
FACE TIME – It Matters
VIPs! Where Do I Seat Them at My Meeting?
The Meeting Minute
Government Connections - Fall 2010