State of California Saves Taxpayer Dollars via Streamlined COVID-19 Hotel Sourcing and Payment Solution from HRS
California was the first U.S. state to issue shelter at home orders in March, and quickly followed with guidelines on group gatherings to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak. These and other bold initiatives, including the rapid deployment of healthcare workers, first responders and other relief personnel to hotspot locations, have slowed the pace of the virus. Now leading on the cost-containment front, California is working with HRS to make the process of sourcing, booking and paying for hotels for healthcare workers seamless.
With the pandemic continuing, and economic fallout rising, the need to effectively manage the state’s lodging expenditures related to this crisis has increasingly come into focus. Accordingly, California Governor Gavin Newsom created an initiative to provide doctors, nurses and other critical front-line healthcare workers access to hotel rooms at reduced rates. With the state budget strained, the need for California to maximize savings on the hundreds of hotel rooms booked every day to support COVID-19 relief cannot be understated.
Addressing this need, HRS managed a flash sourcing exercise for California in April, inviting bids from more than 2,000 hotels. Within days of securing RFP responses, HRS and the California Department of General Services finalized hotel contracts, uploaded rates into a customized booking portal, and implemented an automated centralized payment solution.
The state’s travel agency, TravelStore, now uses HRS’ portal to book hotel rooms for these healthcare workers, first responders and state of California employees. Agents are now quickly shopping and booking preferred hotels that use revised hygiene protocols. At the end of the trip, the secure automated payment tied to the original booking eliminates the need for typical in-person interaction at check-out, further enhancing traveler safety.
“HRS’ end-to-end process, especially the automated payment element, removes multiple hassle factors for our front-line staff and employees in this unique time,” said Bill Amaral, the state of California’s business partnership and travel manager. “Beyond saving money on rooms, newly-developed reporting from HRS ensures the seamless flow of required data for state and Federal financial reconciliation activities.”
Hotels have been creative and responsive as this process unfolded. Hotels are providing amenities that meet the special needs of workers in this environment, as well as detailed information needed to ensure their health and wellness on site.
HRS is providing similar crisis lodging services to government and public health entities today in Australia, Germany and Italy. HRS is in discussions with other U.S. state and local entities as the pandemic evolves and economic recovery plans get put in motion.
Californians seeking more information on COVID-19 relief can visit covid19.ca.gov for steps they can take to stay healthy, and resources available to those impacted by the outbreak.