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I'm looking to stay at a fairly expensive 4 or 5 star hotel and I'm sure my company's corporate rate can be used because I work for a very big publicly traded company.

However, I'm not sure if that's allowed and I don't want to ask my coworkers because they might think I'm being cheap, or maybe even unethical to claim a "corporate" rate for a personal stay.

Is there some way I can find out with out asking my manager or HR? I'm not sure if this kind of thing is typical, or if such a question will only make me look bad.

EDIT:

Turns out I can indeed book hotels for personal use with the corporate rate. However, I still think it's important for others out there facing a similar situation that it is better to ask, but better to ask HR since they typically are more familiar with these kinds of questions.

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I guess it might depend on if they only want you to use that rate when you are staying at the hotel on business - you are there as a representitave of the company OR is that special rate given to employees for all usage, as a perk of the job. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 7 '12 at 18:55
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You could just ask someone in whichever department processes your expenses. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Nov 7 '12 at 19:43
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If you're working for a large company, you surely have an HR or accounting dept that you can ask. In general though, if you ever find yourself thinking stuff like "...would they report this to my company", then you are probably not doing the right thing. –  pap Nov 8 '12 at 17:45
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Just ask. "Hey, does 'corporate rate' mean rate for business travel or rate for employees?" It's not the sort of question that makes you look bad. –  Carson63000 Nov 9 '12 at 3:44
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@paulsmith The question's original form probably got voted off-topic because it sounded like you were more interested in getting answers about hotel reporting policies, which isn't really a workplace question :) –  Rachel Nov 12 '12 at 17:30

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

This varies, so the only way to find out is to talk to the person in your company who books corporate travel. That person will be able to tell you if corporate rates are available for personal use. I have done this for hotels and rental cars, and sometimes the answer was yes and sometimes no.

Don't think of it as "cheap"; think of it as "being economical". Why pay more than you have to? But don't push; if the answer is no, it's no.

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I don't believe you ever received a "no" answer -- unless the corporate monkey was a complete idiot. The hotel that gives the discounts wants your business, whether you're there on a business trip or there to ski. Your employer doesn't pay a dime extra to the hotel when you stay there. In fact, the more employees who take advantage of it, the better off the employer is--they have more leverage in the future to make even better deals. –  Fernando Nov 13 '12 at 16:07
    
@Fernando, I did receive some "no"s. Some were probably, in retrospect, admins who didn't know what they were doing. Once I was told that the answer was "no" because it was prime season and the hotel could get a higher rate from tourists. I don't know is that's true, but it's what I was told. –  Monica Cellio Nov 13 '12 at 16:50
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It's one thing for the hotel to turn you away; it's another thing when your corporate overlords tell you that. Your corporate masters don't control high or low season. They don't know when a hotel is booked or not. They don't need to be asked for permission, period. –  Fernando Nov 13 '12 at 19:49
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@Fernando, you don't know what kind of contract the company has signed. Maybe they agreed that the rate would not be in effect during certain critical time periods. –  HLGEM Nov 14 '12 at 18:26
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@HLGEM No problem. When you go to the hotel to check in (or call on the phone to make a reservation) the hotel will tell you that the rate doesn't apply to you for your stay. Simple. No reason to ask you company ahead of time--because there is NO ETHICAL ISSUE HERE. –  Fernando Nov 15 '12 at 14:54

The federal government allows the usage of their room rate. (Reference) I suspect it would work the same for other large organizations since they don't pay to obtain the reduced rate it is more an incentive for their business.

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So you're saying the company wouldn't get charged and therefore would probably never even know I referenced them? –  paul smith Nov 7 '12 at 19:41
    
@paulsmith For the government rate that is how it works. You reference the desire to use the rate when booking the room and show ID when checking in. –  Sign Nov 7 '12 at 19:43
    
Hello @Sign! Welcome to the Workplace - we here hope to have slightly longer answers explaining the why. Your information is good, but "I suspect" does not necessarily answer the question of the asker - if you can add a bit more information containing why you think/know this to be the case, it would significantly improve this answer! –  enderland Nov 8 '12 at 16:20
    
What government? For the following, I'm referring to travel within the United States for the U.S. government: IME, government rates are only supposed to be used when on official government travel. I'm not sure if that's a government rule or hotel rule. –  GreenMatt Dec 6 '12 at 15:32
    
@Sign: Sorry I didn't read your reference link before commenting before. At 26 years old, the letter may have been superseded by now. It has conditions about accepting a government rate during personal travel, so it's not a simple matter of claiming the rate. Also it does not apply to contractors working for the government, even though contractors often get government rates when traveling on government work. As a practical issue, many businesses I've dealt with on government travel want some sort of proof that you're officially travelling for the government to get a government rate. –  GreenMatt Dec 6 '12 at 15:52

Ask your company if they will allow the use of their booking system for personal travel.

However you can also call the hotel directly ask ask them if they will give you the room for the corporate rate. If they do, it's entirely up to you and the hotel, and they certainly won't report it to the company. Be clear that you are on a personal trip not a work trip.

One hotel pretty much forced their corporate rate on me. I asked if there was a cheaper option and they said "Do you work for someone? If so, we can give you the corporate rate.".

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The companies I have worked for have required the use of the corporate booking system for plane reservations when going on company reimbursed trips. They have never required us to use their system for reserving hotels or rental cars, as long as we didn't exceed the GSA (US government) rates. –  mhoran_psprep Nov 7 '12 at 22:11
    
Many times you can get the company or corporate discount by just asking for it. You do not have to use the company booking system. Heck most companies I have worked for do not have a booking system. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Nov 13 '12 at 19:27

Sometimes discounts like this are considered a "benefit" -- in other words, as part of your compensation you're entitled to discounts. At the staffing agency I contract through, they have deals with a lot of training and academic sources (with the thought that well-trained contractors bring in more money so it's a win-win), and at the company with whom I am currently placed, employees get discounts on sports tickets and office supplies (including for personal use). If the corporate discount on hotel stays is listed as one of your benefits, then you can most certainly use it for personal vacations.

However, if it's a business deal where the company gets a discount for putting their associates up in a given hotel during company-sponsored functions or conferences or the like, it may not be okay to use that rate for personal stays.

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