Why the Government Segment Needs Specialist Housing Providers

Oct 6, 2022 | DTJ Online

With many industries rebounding after the pandemic, the Department of Defense (DOD) and other Federal Agencies are starting to sanction more business trips once again. Much like the rest of the world, the US Government was forced to implement remote working policies during the pandemic—but the need for in-person mission training and operations firmly remained, and momentum is once again picking up.

The US Federal Government—specifically the Department of Defense – is one of the world’s largest purchasers of goods and services. Like many industries, the US Government has complex lodging needs for its military and federal travelers, with challenges unique to its sector. In 2019, the US Government travel domain accounted for nearly $12 billion, with lodging spending estimated at $4.9 billion and long-term lodging spending at almost $700 million.

Rules, regulations, and requirements around accommodation mean the government must have access to reliable, trustworthy housing options for its government and military personnel who are either attending off-site business, embarking on temporary duty travel, or relocating.

Long-term lodging
Government agencies requiring compliant lodging for trips of less than 30 days can rely on the “Best In Class” solution, FedRooms. FedRooms aggregates FEMA-compliant hotel options at or below GSA Lodging per diem rates via the Global Distribution System (GDS).

For longer stays, however, different types of accommodations are often required. The Department of Defense defines temporary duty travel (TDY) that is 31 days or longer as “long-term” (known as long-term lodging or LTL).

These Long Term Accommodations are provided by GSA MAS Vendors and cannot be found in GDS, and therefore cannot be accessed in mandated tools like DTS or ETS. This is why the GSA Long Term Lodging contract exists, so that US Government travelers can make compliant purchases from GSA pre-approved vendors outside of their mandated tools. The DoD directs travelers to utilize GSA MAS LTL vendors for these longer stays on the defense travel website.

Here we take a look at the unique accommodation needs of the US Government requiring long-term lodging options for its travelers, and how specialist housing providers ensure these needs are met.

US Government travelers often lodge in ‘non-corporate’ locations
Long-term temporary duty travel (TDY) for training, vocational or technical schools, and mission-related projects such as ship repair, usually take place in locations considered ‘non-corporate’. It’s not uncommon for US Government travelers to travel beyond the major metropolitan areas to places where reliable housing options are low.

Working with a housing provider that offers a network of compliant accommodations ensures US Government travelers always have access to safe, reliable, and secure accommodation, no matter where they are required to work. The safety and security of government travelers are of paramount importance—so US Government travelers and travel buyers must select housing providers partnered with the latest safety and security solutions.

For example, working with a specialist housing provider partnered with a safety solution like GeoSure ensures US Government travelers have access to real-time safety data in the area they are traveling or assigned to. This allows them to make informed decisions about their safety, including forms of violence, property loss, basic freedoms, and more.

A home away from home
When active duty military or Government civilian personnel receive PCS (Permanent Change of Station) or TDY (Temporary Duty) orders, they could be required to relocate for anywhere between a few months to several years – and in many cases, the family will relocate with them. Finding quality short-term rentals with dependents can be challenging, particularly when the process of relocating regularly can cause feelings of isolation and uncertainty within families. Creating a comfortable home that feels “familiar” and stable is difficult when staying in a barely furnished rental with minimal kitchenware and basic furniture. US Government travelers need a home away from home to create that feeling of stability and comfort.

Specialist housing providers can meet these needs with comfortable, fully-furnished housing options that cater to individuals’ preferences—outdoor space, open-plan living, fast internet, or a desk to work from. US Government travelers can benefit from a private, personal space that recreates those home comforts while away for work.

Using a booking marketplace like 3Sixty, travelers can view and book their preferred choice from a list of vetted accommodations, carefully curated to make them feel at home. The Department of Defense, on the other hand, can rest assured employees are choosing from a list of reliable GSA-compliant accommodations, with the supply chain being swept every week for red flags on safety, security, financial health, and business practices.

Sometimes, PCS and TDY orders are unpredictable, often requiring early departure or even cancellation due to mission changes. Not all military deployments are uniform; some last a month, some last a year; some are in combat zones, and some are not. The US Armed Forces are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to natural or human-made disasters anywhere in the world. Therefore, the Department of Defense must have access to flexible and adaptable global accommodations for military personnel.

Last-minute accommodation may be required, and missions may be cut short – either way, selected housing providers must be adaptable and ready to accommodate at any moment, with flexible lease terms that meet the ever-changing needs of US Government workers. It’s also important that properties adhere to the GSA mandated Per Diem Lodging rates.

Active-duty military members taking on new assignments may be required to move to a large military base near a major city – however, occasionally, DoD Lodging Facilities can become full and commercial accommodation is required. Similarly, military housing often has long waitlists, reiterating the importance of having an adaptable housing provider on hand, with the ability to provide vetted, compliant accommodation across the globe.

Key takeaway
A flexible housing provider is paramount for the US Federal Government. Flexible lease terms, GSA-compliant housing options, curated services, and global support are critical when sourcing accommodation for government travelers.

By Jason Moore, Director of Government Sales at 3Sixty 
Jason Moore is the Director of Government Sales at 3Sixty. With more than half of all GSA-approved and contracted Long Term Lodging Providers included in its supply chain, 3Sixty is equipped to deal with the changing needs of the government sector. 3Sixty is proud to be the business travel industry’s most secure and intuitive accommodation platform, helping employees book and manage stays in over one million quality, cost-effective rooms, and properties in over 60 countries.

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