by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | November 01, 2004
The new 2005 federal per diem lodging rates, set by the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C., went into effect on Oct. 1 and several major cities are unhappy about them.
    While the guidelines did boost 60 percent of the 420 listed locations by an average of $5 over 2004 figures, in Boston, room rates fell from $192 to $152 for May through October. Pat Moscaritolo, president and CEO of the Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the CVB has commissioned an independent analysis of the city’s lodging industry to show the steady increase in average room rates over the past year.
    “If this per diem is not revised, it will be a lose-lose situation for everyone,” said Moscaritolo. “Government meetings hoping to come to Boston and Cambridge will find themselves closed out.”
    The problem, according to Kevin Maher, vice president of governmental affairs for the American Hotel Motel Association in Washington, D.C., and a member of the GSA’s per diem advisory board, is that “the GSA relied on 2002 to 2003 data, a time when a lot of discounting was going on. They were not looking at 2004, which shows room rates rising steadily.”
    “The logic of the 2005 rate cannot be justified,” said Bill Peeper, president and CEO of the Orlando/Orange County CVB. In Orlando, the federal per diem for 2005 dropped to $61 from $95 this year; Peeper has asked Florida’s congressional delegates to speak directly with the GSA concerning a rate adjustment.
    The GSA has refused to comment on the rates, which include other changes: New York City will move to a two-season rate system, and New Orleans will go from a two- to a four-season system.