I know there are very few fans of using DTS for your official travel, but as of 1 Sep, it just got worse. It is now mandatory to book your hotel reservations using DTS per this notice. Now I know that I often found that DTS would not list all the hotels (or sometimes none) in an area, but if I pressed “Skip Hotel”, I could just make my own Government Rate reservations through the hotel’s website. I found this particularly true when the “FEMA-Approved” list would either not work or show none available. This was especially true of some foreign locations. Well, you are required to make a reservation at whatever shows up and, yes, this may mean not booking at your favorite program’s hotel. Thems the rules!
However, as with many regulations, they have allowed for a couple exceptions at this time. Note that I expect these exceptions to close over time. The first one is really good in that you can book at any of the IHG Hotels on-post/base.
For those traveling to Army installations: Please be aware that the majority of on-base Army lodging facilities (39 locations in CONUS, AK, HI, and Puerto Rico) have been privatized through the Privatized Army Lodging (PAL) program and are now managed by InterContinental Hotels Group. At this time, PAL facilities are not yet bookable through DTS and therefore, travelers are not required to use DTS to book lodging when staying at a PAL facility. To book lodging at PAL locations, travelers should continue to contact InterContinental Hotels Group directly at www.ihgarmyhotels.com or 877-771-TEAM (8326) to make reservations. Also note that Army lodging at Fort Benning and Fort Lee will be added to the PAL program as of 1 October 2015. Until that time, travelers can book reservations at those locations by calling 800-462-7691 (800 GO ARMY1). When not staying at Fort Benning, Fort Lee or a PAL facility, personnel are required to use the DTS to book lodging.
Second exception is for stays at Marine Corps facilities.
For those traveling to Marine Corps installations: Marine Corp billeting is not yet available in DTS. Travelers wishing to stay at those properties are not required to use DTS to book lodging. Reservations can be made by going to: www.dodlodging.com/html/MB-locations.html. When not staying at Marine Corps lodging facilities, personnel are required to use the DTS to book lodging.
Lastly, Government civilians get an out unless the installation is one of the ones in the pilot ILPP program that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Expect ILPP to grow and gradually close this loophole.
Policy Note: Per the JTR, DoD civilians are required to check availability of government quarters when traveling to a government installation, but are only be directed to stay at a DoD Lodging facility when TDY to an installation at an Integrated Lodging Program Pilot site and the DoD lodging facility (at that location) is available in DTS. If TDY to a U.S. installation, Service members are required to use available government quarters when TDY for more than one night regardless of if reservations are made in DTS or outside the system.
As always, stay tuned for future developments!