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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
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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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  • Definitely talk to the contact, it won't seem strange or unusual. Company deals with travel suppliers often include minimum values the company must meet so you may find you are doing them a favour by using the rate! – Alan Dev Jan 30 at 12:52
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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
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    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
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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
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    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. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 13 '12 at 19:27
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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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I had the same question. I ended up visiting our intranet section (there's also a big bulletin board in our building) that shows you the company discount benefits we have with all kinds of vendors, from car rentals to hotels to Dell computers. If you work for a big company there's definitely a bunch of discounts available to you. (Cell phone plans are probably the #1 category, all big companies have one or often 3 carriers that offer a %-off.) In my case, the codes posted on that bulletin board (which is clearly targeted at personal use) for the rental car companies were the same codes that the travel policy document listed. So I was able to book with confidence knowing everything was above board. The car rental website even asked me if this was traveling on behalf of and I said no, and the confirmation said "travel type: leisure."

This makes sense too, because your company doesn't pay the difference, they just negotiated the rate, sometimes in exchange for exclusivity or just preferred status, for their business travelers. So they don't care if you book 50 personal nights a year on that code. As for the hotel, they hope you'll use it too because it gives you a reason to stay with them instead of booking at a competitor, or even booking them through Priceline/Expedia/Hotwire where they would have to pay a commission. All this increases the ROI of their signing the corporate discount deal even further. So this is why I believe you'll find that 99% of the time, you'll get a yes.

If you don't see the code listed among the other corporate discounts, I'd agree with the others that it can't hurt to ask HR explicitly just to make sure there's a different situation that you don't know about.

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You need to ask for several reasons: One, the company might not like it and say no. Two, the company might not like that you do it without asking - even if they would have said "yes", someone might hold it against you that you didn't ask. Three, if there is trouble and the company wants ammunition against you in the future, having used the corporate rate without permission might be that ammunition.

That said, it is most likely that they would not mind assuming that it doesn't cost the company anything.

If one of your coworkers claims that you are being cheap, or maybe even unethical to claim a "corporate" rate for a personal stay, that co-worker either has rich parents, or is generally a doormat, or is just being a hypocrite, so that's not something I'd worry about.

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