If you've ever traveled on temporary duty (TDY or TAD) and booked your travel in the Defense Travel System (DTS), you may have seen hotels popping up as "DoD Preferred" when you try to book your lodging. But just what does that mean, and why should you care?
Well, one obvious reason to care is that you may not be reimbursed if you select lodging that isn't authorized.
There are more reasons too, but first let's look at the travel rules. According to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), when performing temporary duty, you should select lodging in the following order:
- DoD Lodging. Transient barracks (or dorms) also known as BOQ for officers or BEQ for enlisted.
- Government Privatized Lodging. Sites located on or near military installations that were once operated by the government but are now run by a commercial lodging company. Think Navy Lodge or IHG Army Hotels.
- DoD Preferred Commercial Lodging. Hotels that have been inspected by the DoD and meet certain standards
- All other commercial lodging.
If you are on temporary travel, you must book your lodging at a DoD facility. If one isn't available, you will be given a non-availability number on your travel authorization. This will allow you to book another place.
You are then normally required to book at a Government Privatized Lodging location unless you can convince your chain of command that you shouldn't. But privatized lodging doesn't exist at a lot of locations, and it often fills up faster than DoD lodging, so your temporary location may not have Government Privatized Lodging available.
Then, you are looking at booking lodging at a DoD Preferred location. Just what is that?
According to the DoD, there are several criteria, including safety, comfort and price that a hotel must meet before it can be considered a DoD Preferred Location.
A short list of things that the DoD requires before it lists a hotel as a preferred location include:
- Free paved, lighted and secure parking
- Free internet
- Full length mirror in room
- Place to hang your clothes and a bedside table
- Phone and alarm clock in room
- Dead bolts, chains and door viewer on room door
- Cable or satellite TV
- Working smoke detectors
- Non-smoking rooms available
So, basically the DoD Preferred Lodging program helps you find a decent hotel in a strange town at a price that won't break the bank.
And to help keep TDY profitable for you, DoD Preferred Lodging almost always offers rates below per diem. Some hotels even automatically apply tax exemptions to official military travel or submit electronic receipts to DTS.
Follow policy and book through DTS or the Defense Travel Management Office, and you can't go wrong. When working on your travel authorization, just follow the system prompts. They will guide you through the appropriate steps and display the hotels that conform to your TDY location requirements.
It's easy to be compliant when you use the DoD travel systems. You'll avoid audit flags, justifications, and, most importantly, paying out of your own pocket for non-compliant bookings.
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