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971-M1 Hotel Contract FAQ


What is Hotel Engine and how is it used?

Hotel Engine is a private hotel booking platform that connects State of Texas travelers to rates unavailable to the public and streamlines business travel management. With dedicated, 24/7 customer support services, a simple search and book process, and customized account management tools, Hotel Engine is the contracted vendor for the State of Texas. State travelers need to receive an invitation from their respective Hotel Engine account administrator. Please contact your agency's travel coordinator for more information.

Do State of Texas agency travelers have to use Hotel Engine to book hotels?

Yes, use of the 971-M1 managed state contract with Hotel Engine is required for state agencies just as any other statewide contract. Section 2171.055(b), Gov’t Code exempts an Institution of Higher Education (IHE) from the requirement to use CPA travel services contracts unless the IHE is using general revenue or education and general funds (as defined by Section 51.009, Education Code) to purchase the travel services.

Is the Hotel Engine platform only for hotels booked in the State of Texas?

No, Hotel Engine users may to book hotels across the United States and internationally, as well as, Texas.

What training is available?

Hotel Engine's FAQs and Admin/User Guides are available on the State of Texas support page. A User information video is also available.

How do I submit a group reservation?
  1. Log into your Hotel Engine account.
  2. Click on the 'Group Reservation' tab and fill out the required information to the best of your ability. The more information Hotel Engine has up front, the faster they can set up your group reservation.
  3. Upon receiving your group request, a member of our team will reach out with your confirmation receipt and Group Order Number.
  4. A Strategic Sourcing Coordinator will work with you to solidify all hotel options, preferences, and needs you may have.
  5. Hotel Engine will manage all hotel changes, adjustments, and communications throughout your stay. If there are any changes on the hotel's end, Hotel Engine will relay those changes to you in a timely manner.
Can travelers still book through the State's travel agency vendor?

Travelers may book travel bundles through the State Travel Agency contracts with NTS or choose to use the separate STMP contracts for hotel, car rental and air travel. The 971-M1 contract and Hotel Engine booking platform are for lodging reservations only.

What hotel chains can I book on Hotel Engine?

You can book a room at any hotel chain available on the platform if it is priced at or below the local GSA rate. Hotel Engine offers rooms at nearly every major hotel chain and is continually adding new hotels to our corporate travel program.

How do I know if I am booking rates at or lower than GSA rates?

When you search on Hotel Engine, the results page shows both the GSA rate and the Hotel Engine rate next to every hotel. With both rates listed, you will be able to easily see the difference in rates. On the left side of the search results page, a list of popular filters allows travelers to filter GSA or lower rates exclusively.

Can rooms be booked above the GSA rate?

If the contract travel services are not available during the time or at the location necessary for the business purpose; or the contract travel service does not provide for the service required; or because the contractor is unable to provide the contract services due to a force majeure event, a travel exception letter is required. Exceptions to the use of contract travel services and higher cost of travel are a citation of the Texas Administrative Code 34 TAC 20.408. For post audit review purposes, State travelers should attach a Hotel Engine screen shot to their travel voucher reflecting no rooms offered at or below the GSA rate during the time or at the location necessary for the business purpose.

Is the rate automatically limited to the GSA?

The maximum GSA rate for each hotel's location is listed under the booking rate for the requested night. The user has the option of booking a room higher than the GSA rate, but will not be guaranteed full reimbursement above that rate by their agency unless prior approval has been granted.

What is “HE Direct?”

HE Direct is a filter that allows travelers to select negotiated rates that are specific to State of Texas members. This filter allows travelers to better understand the rate at which they are booking and are directly negotiated with the hotel, eliminating Expedia. These rates often offer free amenities that the hotel is offering specifically to State of Texas travelers (breakfast, parking, etc.). HE Direct rates also allow travelers to earn their hotel loyalty rewards points.

Just because you do not book a HE Direct rate does not mean that you are booking Expedia rates. Hotel Engine offers thousands of chain-wide discounts directly through hotels that do not fall within the HE Direct offering.

NOTE: Not all of these negotiated direct rates will be at or below GSA.

If state travelers are required to use Hotel Engine for booking hotels, how would I know if they are using Hotel Engine when they submit their travel reimbursements? Will Admins get notifications when hotels are booked?

Under configurations, an admin can set up notifications for themselves every time a user books a hotel. The trends tab in Hotel Engine will allow admins to view and print reports of all trips booked in Hotel Engine. Admins will be able to sort/filter by user and many other details.

Are there ways to filter upcoming trips?

Yes, Admins can filter trips by user and date from the Trends tab. A general User can search and book their own travel, within the rules set by the admin for that agency account

City/County/State and taxes on parking and other hotel fees have always been allowable and separate from State Sales Tax on goods/services - how are these identified?

Travelers should request a detailed itemized receipt from the hotel at time of checkout. There are many cities that charge other taxes such as tourism, resort, beach clean-up taxes, sport authority tax etc. These taxes are separate from the hotel occupancy tax and are reimbursable, see Govt. Code 660.116.

Hotel Occupancy Taxes are reimbursed using object code (COBJ)7135 because they must be kept separately for the Hotel/Motel Tax sweep. Any mandatory taxes other than a hotel occupancy tax are reimbursed using COBJ 7105 unless the travel is to one of the Texas coastal cities that can also charge beach clean-up taxes, which is allowed.

If you have any questions regarding hotel tax rates, please call the Expenditure Assistance Help Line at (512) 475-0966 or email them at expenditure.assistance@cpa.texas.gov.

Will I get my Reward Points from the hotel?

The traveler should always provide their rewards number at check in. It is at the discretion of each hotel property to grant rewards points for each stay.

Can I book outside of the United States, Mexico, and Canada?

Yes, Hotel Engine offers many international hotel options. A state employee is entitled to be reimbursed for actual lodging and meal expenses incurred while conducting state business at a duty point in a foreign country other than Canada and Mexico. Prior approval by the agency's chief administrator or chief administrator's designee is required. These policies are directed by The State of Texas so please consult your travel coordinator.

Do I have to pay for the hotel room when I make a reservation?

No. The primary guest will pay for the full reservation at the hotel with their payment of choice.

Who should I contact if I have an issue with my reservation?

Call Hotel Engine's exclusive State of Texas support line at 1-800-803- 0452 or email Hotel Engine at support@hotelengine.com.

What is the cancellation policy?

Hotel Engine never charges for cancellations. However, the hotel may charge a fee per its own cancellation policy. Before you complete a booking, you can view the hotel's cancellation policy under “Terms & Conditions” on the checkout page. You can also find the hotel's cancellation policy under “Important Information” on your booking's confirmation page.

How do I cancel my reservation?

You can cancel your booking online or by calling the Hotel Engine State of Texas customer service line at 1-800-803-0452. To cancel online, follow these instructions:

  1. Log in to hotelengine.com.
  2. Click on the “Trips” tab.
  3. Select the booking you want to cancel.
  4. Click “Cancel Reservation” and confirm the cancellation request in the popup window.
  5. You will receive an email confirmation once it is completed.

If you miss the cancellation deadline, please contact the Hotel Engine State of Texas support line at 1-800-803-0452. Hotel Engine will be happy to assist you.

Can I add or reduce rooms to my hotel reservation?

You cannot add or reduce the number of rooms on an upcoming reservation once you complete the booking process. If you need additional rooms, you can simply book a new reservation at the same hotel. Otherwise, if you need to modify the number of rooms on a reservation, call the Hotel Engine State of Texas support line at 1-800-803-0452.

Can I change the name on my hotel reservation?

If you need to change the name on your hotel reservation, you have two options: a) Cancel your current reservation online and rebook a new reservation under the new name. b) Call the Hotel Engine State of Texas support line at: 1-800-803-0452. Contact Hotel Engine Customer Support.

Can I register an individual traveler and use Hotel Engine for personal leisure travel?

No, the Hotel Engine booking platform is only to be used for making business-related travel reservations. Any personal or leisure travel is strictly prohibited.

Can there be more than one agency Admin per agency?

Yes, each agency admin will set up their own Admin profile with access to all their agency's Coordinator and User profiles, where they can run reports, set up or edit user profiles, or make bookings for themselves or other travelers.

What should an agency do that has board members who book their own travel, but do not have a state agency email address? How would they be set up as a user?

Hotel Engine can help set up users with special circumstances.

Sometimes the hotel rates on the search page are inconsistent with the checkout page in Hotel Engine, why is that?

That is because the technology system that is used to book hotel rooms first sends over a range of rates that could be available at the hotel and this is the estimated nightly rate that is shown to you on the search page. Most of the time this rate will be consistent with the next page where room selections are listed. However, this rate is subject to change based on the live availability given to Hotel Engine by the hotel's technology system.

What internet browsers are supported by Hotel Engine? Hotel Engine supports the following browsers:
  • Firefox v65 and higher
  • Chrome v72 and higher
  • Edge v18 and higher
  • Safari v12 and higher