Last week the hotel and government meeting planner community collectively breathed one big sigh of relief when it was revealed GSA’s verdict to keep the federal per diem rates flat for FY’13. This responsible decision shows much needed clear headed thinking. In the past few weeks there have been some rather incredulous proposal on the table which included most offensively, the notion of including only lower hotel rates in the mid-price range when calculating average daily rates in an effort to intentionally reduce rates and thus reduce government spending on travel.
In the end, GSA opted not for the manipulation of any data. By holding the per diem rates flat for the following year, we can celebrate either the decision to try to stabilize markets by not making any changes, or we can even applaud the procrastination in waiting to make a decision on rates until a time that’s not as volatile politically or economically.
We can attribute this success to the proactive approaches of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the tireless efforts of the US Travel Association and their comprehensive VoteTravel campaign, plus the hard work of individual meeting planners and industry suppliers who would not remain idle as the government deliberated over taking drastic measures. We need to remain diligent in the coming months to continue to tout the importance of meetings, to stop unethical behavior when we see it and to not let the actions of a few hurt one the nation’s most valuable industries.