Travel Management Company Services

Travel Management Companies (TMCs, also referred to as Commercial Travel Offices/CTOs in DTS) operate in a manner similar to a travel agency, by arranging official travel on behalf of military and civilian travelers in accordance with DoD policy [PDF, 11 pages].

The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) procures TMC services on behalf of DoD. Centralizing the procurement of travel services allows DoD to apply best practices, leverage buying power, and improve working relationships between the Government and the travel industry. DTMO-managed TMC services are currently provided to DoD locations worldwide by multiple TMC service providers, comprised of both large and small businesses. Contracted TMCs must adhere to Travel Management Office Data Requirements within their contract.

TMC Reservation Process

All electronic communication between DoD Online Booking Tools and the TMC takes place through an electronic record called the Passenger Name Record (PNR). The PNR contains all pertinent information about the traveler’s reservation and resides in the TMC’s reservation system, known as a “Global Distribution System” (GDS).

Travel reservations requested in a DoD Online Booking Tool and booked by a TMC follow this process:

  1. Traveler builds an authorization & completes a reservation

    Selecting the first reservation in the DTS Travel module creates a PNR and immediately enters the selected reservation into it. This puts the reservation “on hold” – meaning a hotel, rental car, or aircraft reservation is set aside for the traveler. However, the reservation is not yet booked or ticketed.

    “Altering” reservations includes selecting more reservations, cancelling existing reservations, replacing reservations with others, and more. Each alteration updates the PNR. The PNR may update quite a few times while the traveler goes through the process of building the authorization and during subsequent trip planning. After all reservations have been selected, the traveler completes the authorization and it is sent to the TMC.

  2. TMC receives reservation requests & books reservations

    When the TMC receives the authorization, a quality control check is performed. Some TMC contracts also allow the TMC to check for alternate flights if the traveler’s request includes flights that are not Government contracted airfares. Within one business day of receiving the request, the TMC books the reservations. At this point the reservations are guaranteed, though the TMC has neither charged the traveler nor issued tickets.

  3. AO approves travel, allowing the TMC to issue tickets

    The Authorizing Official (AO) approves the authorization and the system assigns a ticketing date 3 days before travel is due to start (unless otherwise specified by the AO). When tickets are issued:

    • The TMC updates the PNR with ticket information and applicable fees
    • The traveler’s GTCC, Unit Card, or the unit’s CBA is debited
    • DTS updates the authorization with the new PNR information
    • The traveler receives an email from DTS that includes basic itinerary information and any TMC comments
    • The traveler receives an email from the TMC that contains the payment invoice, a more complete version of the itinerary, ticket numbers and costs, and after-hours emergency contact information should the traveler require TMC support once travel begins

The Reservation Process Guide [PDF, 35 pages] provides more details on this process and the relationship of the TMC, including important concepts, best practices, common problems and their solutions, and support resources for TMC issues.