September 2018 - Volume 10, Issue 5
In This Issue
- E-Travel Online Booking Fee Change
- Federal Per Diem Changes – Effective September 1, 2018
- Hotel Booking Tips for E-Travel Planners
- Real ID for Alaskans
E-Travel Online Booking Fee Change
Effective Tuesday, September 4, 2018 the E-Travel Online booking fee (No Agent Assistance) of $4.75 was reduced to $4.50. The reduction was taken out of the cost recovery noted below. All other fees remain the same:
- Online booking with no agent assistance $4.50
- Online booking with partial assistance (i.e. Exchanges or Rural requests) $12.00
- Full agent assistance booking (online tool not used) $20.00
- No agent assistance $7.00
- With agent assistance $12.00
- No agent assistance No Charge
- With agent assistance $12.00
NOTE: All fees include a $2.00 cost recovery to the Department of Administration.
Federal Per Diem Changes - Effective September 1, 2018
Department of Defense made changes to the federal per diem that affect travel reimbursements in some Alaska communities. The federal per diem is lower than the standard Alaska per diem ($60) in the communities listed in the table below; therefore, because the State reimbursement is higher the difference is considered taxable travel, except for the first and last days of travel. Since the reimbursement is only 75% on the first and last, those days are not considered taxable.
Travel processors should properly report taxable travel for the below communities.
The Taxable Travel Allowance Payroll Report has been updated to reflect the below changes to the Alaska Taxable M&IE tab:
- Adak has been added back to the list of Alaska Taxable communities and has a $3 taxable M&IE per day
- Deadhorse has a taxable total of 5 per day (down from 9 taxable)
- Gambell has a taxable total of 5 per day (down from 9 taxable)
- Nuiqsut has a taxable total of 5 per day (down from 9 taxable)
- Prudhoe Bay has a taxable total of 5 per day (down from 9 taxable)
Hotel Booking Tips For E-Travel Planners
Studies show that people visit over 15 different websites searching for the best hotel rate. Quantify that by the hours spent, are they REALLY getting the best deal?
- Don’t waste your time searching online booking tools such as Hotels.com. You may save a few dollars per night, but if any unexpected issues arise before or during your trip, you may have a tough time cancelling or changing the reservation. The big box online booking tools are not interested in personal contact like a travel agency and if you contact the hotel directly, they will not be able to assist you; they will direct you back to the place you booked. As a result, you might end up with unwanted reservations costs.
- Bookings made via E-Travel Online or directly with the property will ensure you and your traveler have a direct point of contact to assist with changes or cancellations.
- Don’t compare apples to oranges. If you are going to price shop, it is important to compare the same restrictions and room types between each site visited. For example, don’t compare rates between a queen room and a king room, or advance purchase/nonrefundable rate to a room with a 24-hour cancellation requirement.
- Once an advanced reservation is booked, it can be changed to a new date, but it cannot be cancelled. E-Travel Online will block MOST advance purchase rates because of the restrictions, but it is always best to review the cancellation policy.
Research by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) shows that travel agents save their customers $452 and 4 hours of planning per trip on average.
- Don’t rely on properties to properly document reservations that need CTS payment authorization. All too often, travelers are advised at check-in that they must present a credit card for payment because there is no authorization on file. The CTS authorization process is automated to the point the form reaches the property; from there is it the responsibility of the front desk staff to document the reservation with the CTS and approval to charge the card. Some properties will not accept the State’s process and may require a separate authorization form. Occasionally, those properties will contact CTM to advise, but not always.
- If you book the property in E-Travel and check the box to send the authorization, that should do the job, but we strongly recommend that you confirm directly with the property a day or two prior to check in. This will ensure your traveler does not have any trouble checking in.
- If you don’t have time to confirm directly reach out to the traveler and advise them to contact CTM if there are any issues with the authorization. The CTM contact information is printed on every travel itinerary.
- Many of the hotels, motels, and B&Bs in rural Alaska communities are included in E-Travel Online, but not all of them. If you come across a location where you know a property should be listed but it is not, please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can update our system. Properties that we manually add to our system are noted as Rural Alaska Lodging. To book one, select the View rates button, next select the option to have an agent book, and finally continue to purchase.
- Occasionally, a property is displayed twice in E-Travel Online. These are usually small rural properties that do not provide our system with up-to-date inventory or rates. You can secure the property noted as Rural Alaska Lodging by selecting the View rates button, next select the option to have an agent book, and finally continue to purchase. The other listing for the property may have pictures or amenities listed, but the property will be noted as Sold out.
Real ID for Alaskans
If you are an Alaskan resident and have plans to travel in 2020, you will need to apply for Alaska’s REAL ID unless you carry a valid passport or other federally compliant ID. The REAL ID is a federally compliant identification, which will be required to board an aircraft.
- The State has one more extension to be approved this October 2018. If the extension is issued Alaskan’s will be allowed to use their current Alaska ID to pass through airport security until the new compliant ID cards are ready to issue.
- The State of Alaska is currently working to meet the federal ID requirements and are poised to issue REAL ID cards starting January 2019.
- Alaska’s REAL ID will be voluntary. Alaskans will have a choice between a standard (what we have now) or REAL ID compliant license or ID. However, travelers will not be able to board a commercial aircraft without the REAL ID or another federally compliant ID (Passport, Military ID, some forms of tribal IDs).
- Alaskans will be encouraged to go to the DMV to complete the registration and pay the fee when the DMV announces when the new cards are available (January 2019).
- For more information visit the Department of Administration, Division of Motor Vehicles website