Q1. Do I have to use AOT to book my domestic accommodation?
A1. Yes. AOT must be used to book all official domestic accommodation where the Commonwealth is ultimately responsible for any of the costs associated with the relevant travel, unless:
- an exemption has been provided in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules or
- an allowance is to be provided in respect of accommodation, or
- reimbursement is to be provided to a third party (i.e. a non-Commonwealth traveller) that cannot access the coordinated travel arrangement for airfares, accommodation and/or car rental.
This includes travel by officials, contractors and consultants to undertake work duties at the direction of the employing entity.
AOT can book any domestic accommodation that is commercially available. Where an entity requires accommodation through a private party, the entity should make its own booking arrangements directly with the owner/manager.
Q2. Can I book international accommodation through AOT?
A2. The WoAG arrangement with AOT is for domestic accommodation only. International accommodation bookings can be made through existing channels, including the travel management company (QBT).
Q3. Can I continue to get paid a travel allowance for accommodation?
A3. Yes. Where an entity pays a staff member an allowance for the accommodation element of a trip, that allowance becomes the staff member's personal money. Consequently, they are not permitted to access the Government's accommodation rates through AOT.
Q4. Is an Office Holder whose official travel is subject to a Determination of the Remuneration Tribunal, required to use the WoAG Accommodation Program?
A4. The Remuneration Tribunal's Determinations on official travel provide flexibility for an Office Holder to be paid either:
- an allowance for accommodation, meals and incidentals or
- where the entity pays for the accommodation element, an allowance for meals and incidentals only.
Where the entity pays for an Office Holder's accommodation, bookings must be made through AOT and paid for on the Diners Club account. Where an allowance is paid to the Office Holder (for accommodation), this becomes the Office Holder's personal money and bookings cannot be made through AOT. In this case, Office Holders will need to make their own accommodation bookings.
Q5. How is my accommodation paid for?
A5. AOT is responsible for paying for accommodation. Travellers are not required to pay for accommodation at check-out. Following check-out, the accommodation provider will send an invoice to AOT. Within one day of receipt of a correctly rendered tax invoice, AOT will pay the accommodation provider. AOT will then charge the entity's Diners Club card in the traveller's profile (or as notified at the time of booking) for the total amount as per the Booking Confirmation – Travel Voucher.
Q6. What should I do if I paid the property directly on check out?
A6. AOT manages the invoicing and payment for all accommodation booked through the WoAG Accommodation Program. Contact AOT or your entity's travel team as soon as possible to coordinate a reversal of the charges. AOT will apply the charge to the correct form of payment, the Diners Club card held in your travel profile (or as notified at the time of booking).
In the event that you do not have a travel profile with AOT, you will need to also provide the details of the relevant entity Diners Club card before AOT is able to reverse the incorrect payment.
Q7. Do I need to provide a credit card (personal or corporate) to the hotel on check-in?
A7. This depends on the particular hotel's policy. It is common practice in the hotel industry to request a credit card or cash bond at the time of check-in. This often involves the hotel putting a 'hold' on your credit card (or requesting a cash bond) for a predetermined amount of money to act as a guarantee for any ancillary charges and/or security against damages that may be incurred during the stay e.g. food and beverage, minibar, in-house movies or internet usage.
If your entity pays for room only, the accommodation provider may ask you for your credit card or a cash bond. Any ancillary charges incurred during a stay must be paid directly to the hotel using the traveller's own funds or entity credit card (where authorised), at the time of check-out.
If your entity pays for room plus all ancillary charges, the accommodation provider should not need to hold any monies against your personal or corporate credit card as all costs will be charged back to AOT and in turn to your entity. In the event that the property still requests a 'hold' on your credit card, it is recommended that you:
- advise the property that your accommodation is booked through AOT and AOT and your entity are meeting all costs (room and ancillary charges) and/or
- present your Booking Confirmation Voucher as AOT's payment arrangements are listed.
Q8. Why has AOT sent me a booking Confirmation Voucher?
A8. AOT will email the travel arranger and/or traveller a Booking Confirmation Voucher at the time an accommodation booking is confirmed by the hotel. The Booking Confirmation Voucher:
- outlines the total cost for the room charges inclusive of the Service Fee and the credit card surcharge
- should be checked immediately on receipt to ensure the booking details are correct so that any potential hotel 'No Show' or cancellation fees are not incurred
- assists with check-in or out processes at the hotel (if required)
- will be reissued where an accommodation booking has been amended or cancelled
- details AOT contact details in the event that assistance is required in relation to check-in arrangements or quality of room issues that may occur
- should be kept for reconciliation purposes (where required).
Please note for QBT Online Booking Tool bookings, the Booking Confirmation Voucher is only sent where this functionality is enabled by your entity. In these circumstances, the traveller will only receive a QBT Itinerary.
Q9. Why don't I get a tax invoice from the hotel or from AOT?
A9. A tax invoice will not be provided by AOT or the hotel as the Diners Club statements are GST-compliant. AOT will charge the entity Diners Club card the authorised charges detailed in the Booking Confirmation Voucher after it has paid the accommodation provider. The Booking Confirmation Voucher may be used to assist for accommodation reconciliation purposes.
The WoAG Travel Arrangements are intended to facilitate a streamlined and paperless process for entities.
Q10. Is there a booking fee payable to AOT?
A10. Yes. There is a Service Fee payable to AOT under the WoAG arrangements. The room costs displayed on AOT's portal are inclusive of the Service Fee, the credit card surcharge and GST.
Under the previous decentralised accommodation arrangements, bookings made through travel websites attracted commissions of 10%, or more, increasing the cost of the room. These commissions were paid by hotels to accommodation brokers, booking sites and travel management companies. Such commissions have been removed under the WoAG Accommodation Program and a transparent fee for service model adopted.
Q11. What services does AOT provide?
A11. In delivering the WoAG accommodation program, AOT:
- negotiates and manages contracted rates and allotments
- makes bookings including for over-night travel, groups, long-stay and relocations
- attends to changes and cancellations
- pays accommodation providers
- provides enhanced data for Diners Club transactions
- provides reports to Finance and entities.
These services are of value to the individual traveller, entities, and to the Australian Government as a whole.
Q12. Is there any domestic accommodation that AOT cannot book?
A12. Yes. Where an entity requires non-commercial accommodation, such as:
- a rental property where a formal lease is involved, or
- where the prepayment of a rental bond or financial surety is required.
An entity may make its own booking arrangements directly with the relevant property owner/manager.
Q13. Can AOT book a site at a camping ground?
A13. Yes. Accommodation with an external toilet and bathroom facilities, for example camping sites and some caravans, is optional for booking under the WoAG Accommodation Program. While AOT may be able to assist with these bookings, entities may also book this type of accommodation directly with the property owner/manager.
Q14. Can AOT book accommodation at caravan parks?
A14. Yes. AOT can book caravans and cabins at caravan parks. Accommodation that has an ensuite or a private, safe and secure toilet and bathroom that is under the same roof, for example cabins and some caravans, must be booked through AOT.
Q15. What if I can find a cheaper hotel on another accommodation website or direct from a hotel?
A15. The WoAG Accommodation Program has been established for the benefit of the Australian Government as a whole and is achieving the strategic objectives of coordinated procurement.
As hotels manage their inventory in much the same way as airlines, it is possible that a promotional or deeply discounted room will become available. While these rates may be cheaper, they will often have restrictive cancellation conditions and/or payment terms that may differ from the advantageous terms available under the WoAG Accommodation Program.
Please contact the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 if the accommodation offered through another accommodation website or direct from a hotel:
- is significantly cheaper and
- is for the same room type and amenity and
- has same terms and payment conditions as bookings made with AOT.
Please ensure that you provide AOT with the property, rate and website details. AOT will endeavour to secure the same rate, wherever possible.
When comparing accommodation offered from other websites or providers, it is important to consider not only the total charges, but also the non-financial benefits to your entity, such as duty of care requirements, consolidated reporting, enhanced financial data and a paperless process gained by managing your booking through the WoAG Accommodation Program.
Q16. There does not appear to be any accommodation in the location that I am travelling to, what should I do?
A16. AOT has contracted numerous properties across Australia. It is possible that there may be no contracted properties available in a particular location, however the most likely reason may be that your entity has applied an accommodation 'Ceiling Limit' as a way to manage its travel program. A 'Ceiling Limit' is the maximum threshold (or ceiling) that your entity has determined as a reasonable limit for accommodation costs.
Entities that use a 'Ceiling Limit' may also have a 'Rate Override' function in the event that there is no accommodation available within the entity's threshold. The 'Rate Override 'function allows you to display properties above the entity 'Ceiling Limit'. Please refer to your entity's travel controls such as Accountable Authority Instructions or travel management team for any requirements that may apply.
In the event that there are no properties being displayed in the booking tool, it is recommended that you:
- apply the 'Rate Override' function, where permitted
- complete the online Non Contracted Accommodation Booking form via the AOT Portal
- contact the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 to assist you in sourcing accommodation within your entity's travel policy requirements.
Where there is no available accommodation in the requested location, AOT will endeavour to source alternate accommodation of a same or better standard and price within reasonable proximity to the requested location.
Q17. There are only 'On Request' properties showing in the booking tool. Should I book directly with the hotel?
A17. No. A property will show an 'On Request' status on the AOT Portal or the QBT Online Booking Tool when there are no contracted rooms available at that property. This may be for a number of reasons and AOT will need to contact the property in order to confirm availability of room(s), whether the contracted rate will apply and/or acceptance of your booking.
Please contact the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 and provide the details of the preferred property and at least one alternative option that meets your business needs. You have the option of remaining on the line while the Consultant contacts the property(s) or alternatively you can request the Consultant to call you back. AOT does not charge additional fees for this service.
It is recommended that accommodation is booked at the same time as flights and as far in advance as possible to maximise the opportunities of room availability and competitive rates.
Q18. I have an approved business need to stay in a non-contracted property. Can AOT assist me with this booking?
A18. Yes. AOT is able to book any commercially available property, including properties that are not contracted with the WoAG Accommodation Program. Non contracted accommodation can be booked directly with AOT by:
- completing the online Non Contracted Accommodation Booking form via the AOT Portal
- forward an email with the property and booking requirement to: email@example.com
- calling the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869.
Q19. I am attending an external conference/symposium/seminar/training course. Can AOT book my accommodation requirements?
A19. Yes. AOT must be used for all domestic accommodation, including conference/symposium/seminar/training course related travel. Accommodation can be booked either through QBT, at the same time as your other travel requirements or directly with AOT.
Q20. I am attending an external conference/symposium/seminar/training course and accommodation is included as part of a bundled conference price. Am I required to book the accommodation with AOT?
A20. No. Where the accommodation is included as part of the single rate conference package (i.e. combined accommodation and conference/symposium/seminar/training course costs) and the accommodation costs cannot be identified or separated from the event costs, then you may book directly with the conference organiser or host property.
Q21. I am attending an external conference/symposium/seminar/training course and the event organiser has reserved rooms at the venue at a discounted rate for delegates. Can I book my accommodation directly with the event organiser or host property?
A21. AOT must be used for all domestic accommodation bookings. Please contact the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 and provide the property and rate details offered to event attendees, as well as the event organiser's contact details. AOT will endeavour to book the accommodation at that rate.
- there is an approved business need for the traveller to stay at the event venue rather than another nearby venue, such as the traveller is a key note speaker or is accompanying an attending VIP delegate or
- AOT is unable to obtain a rate at the property that is either the same or better (inclusive of the Service Fee) than offered by the conference organiser and
- AOT is not able to source available alternative accommodation that is of a same or better standard and rate within a reasonable proximity (as defined by the entity) from the event venue
then you may book directly with the event organiser. Any direct bookings with event organisers or venues must meet the entity's business needs and be defensible in terms of value for money considerations and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
Please ensure that documentation is retained for record-keeping purposes.
Q22. How do I change or cancel an accommodation booking?
A22. When you become aware of any changes to your travel requirements, you should amend or cancel your booking as soon as possible in order to avoid any potential cancellation fees charged by the accommodation provider.
Bookings may be cancelled online through the AOT Portal at any time, however:
- Greater than 72hrs from the date of check-in – you should modify the booking using the booking channel through which you made the original booking i.e. AOT or QBT
- Within 72hrs of the date of check-in – call AOT on 1300 767 869 to modify your booking
- During travel – call AOT on 1300 767 869 to modify or cancel your booking. In the event that you have modified or cancelled the booking directly with the property, please contact AOT on 1300 767 869 as soon as practicable as cancellation charges may apply.
Please be aware that if you have already checked-in to a property and need to shorten the duration of your booking, you may be charged a one-night cancellation fee if within the hotel's cancellation period.
AOT does not charge a fee for amending or cancelling bookings.
Q23. What are the conditions for cancellations?
A23. Generally, in capital cities cancellations can be made up to 2:00pm on the day of check-in without charge. However, cancellation conditions do vary depending on the hotel, location, and whether it is a group, short-stay or long-stay booking.
These conditions will be displayed for each hotel once the hotel has been selected in either the AOT Portal or the QBT Online Booking Tool and should be used to inform your decision about what property you choose to stay at. The cancellation conditions relating to the room and property you select will be included in the Booking Confirmation Voucher you receive from AOT.
AOT does not charge a fee for amending or cancelling bookings.
Q24. What is a 'no show' and what are the financial consequences?
A24. A 'no show' occurs when the traveller does not check in at the property on the day that the accommodation was booked for. If the traveller or the travel booker does not change or cancel the booking by the cancellation deadline, a cancellation fee will most likely be charged by the property. The cancellation conditions will be included in the Booking Confirmation Voucher you receive from AOT.
To avoid a cancellation fee, the traveller or travel booker should contact AOT or QBT as soon as possible, to advise of circumstances where the traveller will not be able to check in on the day of the confirmed booking.
Q25. Can we use AOT to make venue hire bookings for meetings and conferences?
A25. Yes. AOT has a dedicated and experienced team to assist you in making hotel-based venue hire bookings. This is an optional, non-mandatory service provided by AOT.
It is recommended that entities do not contact hotels directly as this may limit AOT's ability to negotiate competitive rates and terms on behalf of entities. To request a quote, you should complete the online AOT Meeting/Conference and Group Booking Quotation Request form via the AOT Portal. Alternatively you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869. Please ensure that you provide as much advance notice and detail around your meeting and budgetary requirements as possible so that AOT can achieve the best possible rates, and terms and conditions.
AOT will endeavour to obtain three quotes from accommodation providers in the location where the meeting/conference is to be held. Once you have chosen the property, AOT will make the booking for you. AOT's services do not include the provision of subcontracting arrangements such as event management, audio visual or external catering. Remaining tasks associated with the conference are to be managed between entities and the venue.
WoAG Travel Advice 2015/08 Venue Hire and Conference-Related Accommodation Bookings provides further guidance and a checklist to assist you in making Venue Hire bookings through AOT. A copy of this advice is available on GovTEAMS or by contacting the WoAG Travel Team.
Q26. Do I have to use AOT to make a group booking?
A26. Yes. AOT will obtain quotes from a number of accommodation providers to meet your business needs. To request a quote, you should complete the online AOT Meeting/Conference & Group Booking Quotation Request form via the AOT Portal. Alternatively you can also email email@example.com or call the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869.
AOT has a dedicated and experienced team to assist you with group bookings for 10 or more travellers.
WoAG Travel Advice 2015/28 Group Bookings provides further guidance and a checklist to assist you in making group accommodation bookings through AOT. A copy of this advice is available on GovTEAMS or by contacting the WoAG Travel Team.
Q27. Do I have to use the AOT arrangement to book accommodation for a visiting international delegation that my entity is coordinating?
A27. Yes. AOT must be used to book all domestic accommodation where the Commonwealth is responsible for the costs associated with that travel, including for non-Commonwealth officials, unless:
- an exemption has been provided in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules; or
- reimbursement is to be provided to a third party (i.e. a non-Commonwealth traveller that cannot access the coordinated travel arrangement for airfares, accommodation and/or car rental; or
- an allowance is to be provided in respect of accommodation.
If required, AOT may be able to coordinate multiple forms of payment arrangements with the relevant property. Please contact the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 to discuss the incoming delegation's accommodation requirements.
Q28. I need to travel within 72 hours - how can I make sure that I have a confirmed accommodation booking prior to travel?
A28. If you are travelling within 72 hours of your proposed stay and require immediate confirmation of accommodation, you should book a room displayed as 'Instant Confirmation' rather than 'On Request'. Each room's status is clearly displayed on the AOT Portal or QBT Online Booking Tool.
If there are no 'Instant Confirmation' properties appearing in your search results and your entity has an accommodation 'ceiling' limit, you may need to use the Rate Override function (where available) to display properties above your limit.
If there are still no 'Instant Confirmation' properties appearing, or you have a business need to stay in a non-contracted property, please call the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 so that an AOT Consultant may assist you. The AOT Call Centre is available 24/7.
Q29. AOT has issued a 'Black-Out' or 'Sell-Out' Notice for the location I am travelling to. Do I have to use AOT if I can find alternative accommodation?
A29. Yes. AOT may issue a 'Black-Out' Notice for a specific location where there is no accommodation available for a specified time frame. This situation may occur as a result of significant events or large-scale meetings and conferences occurring at the same time e.g. the Federal Budget.
Room availability can be volatile during a 'Black-Out' period. Where an entity becomes aware that rooms are available at a particular property, it should call the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 and provide the name of the property, pricing and website details. AOT will contact the property and attempt to secure the accommodation at the applicable WoAG rate, terms and conditions.
Entities must not book directly with the property or via other accommodation websites. If AOT is not able to secure a booking at that property or source another property within a reasonable proximity (as defined by your entity) of the required location, a traveller may book directly with another property or via an accommodation website. Any direct bookings with properties or venues must meet the entity's business needs and be defensible in terms of value for money considerations and the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.
Please ensure that documentation is retained for record-keeping purposes.
Q30. What should I do if I forgot to pay for my meals and/or ancillary charges on check-out?
A30. Contact your entity's travel management team and the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 as soon as possible on return from your travel. AOT will pay for all accommodation and outstanding meals and ancillary charges not settled by the traveller prior to check-out. AOT will then on-charge those costs to the Diners Club card recorded in the traveller or entity profile. It is a matter for the entity to undertake any recovery actions directly with the traveller, where applicable.
Q31. What should I do if I have a concern in relation to my room?
A31. While AOT is able to assist you with your concern(s), in the first instance it is recommended that you contact the accommodation provider's Reception to discuss your concerns and give the property an opportunity to resolve the matter. Please ensure that you provide all details relevant to your concern.
In the event that the Front Desk is not attended or the property does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, please call the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 and provide the:
- Booking Reference number – this can be found on the Booking Confirmation Voucher that was emailed to you and/or travel booker by AOT
- property details (should you not have your Booking Reference Number)
- nature of your concern(s), what actions you have taken and what the accommodation provider has done to resolve your concern(s).
Please be patient while AOT tries to resolve your concern(s). Where necessary, AOT may try to relocate you to another room.
Q32. I have extended/shortened my stay with the booked hotel?
A32. Please ensure that you contact your entity's travel management team at the earliest possible opportunity who will contact the AOT Call Centre on 1300 767 869 to advise the details of the change. For invoicing and payment reasons, AOT needs to be advised as soon as practicable of any changes that have a financial consequence to your booking.
Before cancelling any accommodation directly with the property, please be aware of the cancellation terms as cancellation fees may apply.
Q33. Can I book leisure travel through AOT?
A33. No. The WoAG Travel Arrangements must not be used for stand-alone personal or leisure travel. Where personal or leisure travel is attached to official travel, you should refer to your entity's internal travel controls such as Accountable Authority Instructions, for the requirement that apply.