format_list_bulleted Topic Overview


The university pays directly or reimburses individuals for expenses that are necessary and appropriate to conduct university business. Key considerations and associated processes are found in the Business and Travel Expense Policies page. The university outlines its guiding principles and the IRS regulations with regard to business and travel expenses in Administrative Guide Memo 5.4.2

The university pays for lodging when employees travel outside of their local area, which is defined as 50 miles one-way from home or Stanford, whichever is a greater distance. Before booking lodging for an individual or group who will be traveling on university business, the traveler and travel arranger should understand the key considerations and policies associated with the travel process. These considerations include whether the trip is domestic or international, if the traveler is a Stanford employee, affiliate or visitor, and the source of funding for the trip. More information on these key considerations is found on the Travel Process page.

Individuals traveling on university business are expected to use lodging accommodations that are necessary and reasonable. The cost of lodging should be kept to a minimum and consistent with a reasonable level of comfort, convenience and security for the traveler. Specific guidelines and details are documented on the Lodging Policy page.

In order to be able to more effectively support university travelers, Stanford requires the use of a centralized travel booking program, Stanford Travel, when faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and students are booking airfare for university-sponsored travel unless it is specifically exempted from the booking policy. Travelers may also use Stanford Travel when booking hotels and rental cars for university-sponsored travel. 

When hotels or exempted air fare are booked outside of the Stanford Travel booking channels, travelers or travel arrangers must use the itinerary-forwarding service to register and then, as needed, update their trip details.

Stanford Travel automatically sends booking updates to the registry when itineraries change, supports compliance with reimbursement policies and procedures and offers discounts, waivers, and perks to travelers. Considering these benefits, booking a hotel through Stanford Travel remains the preferred booking option wherever possible. More booking policy details are available on the Lodging Policy page.

Booking separate rooms for each traveler is preferred, and considered a best practice for health and safety reasons. Sharing a room is optional, but a traveler should only share a room with a peer, and not with a superior or their manager.

Lodging arrangements that include contracts or agreements with terms and conditions requiring a signature, such as for the lease of a home or room blocks for 10 or more travelers, should be booked through the appropriate channel and paid through a requisition in iProcurement.

If there are 10 or more people traveling together, rooms are booked directly with the hotel. A group room block will have special rules and cancellation policies. A purchase order (P.O.) is required for all room blocks. In addition, a contract signed by the appropriate authority is required unless a master service agreement (MSA) is in place for that hotel.

Hotels with Master Service Agreements (MSAs)

Stanford University has signed a MSA with the following local hotels to simplify the contracting of room blocks. These hotels will send a group quote in lieu of a contract:

  • Sheraton Palo Alto Hotel
  • The Westin Palo Alto

Booking Process for Hotels with MSAs 

  1. The Stanford organizer connects with the hotel's group department to confirm availability and pricing for the room block request.
  2. The hotel sends a quote to the organizer using the group template.
  3. The Stanford organizer submits a requisition; indicates signature required – "NO."
  4. Stanford's purchasing team references the MSA and processes the P.O. without signature on quote.
  5. Quote with P.O. number returned to the hotel within 21 days from the date the quote received. Once the contracted hotel receives the P.O., the terms and conditions of the quote are binding. 

The Stanford Travel Card (TCard) is the recommended payment option for any travel costs that will not be reimbursed through the per diem method. Alternatively, personal funds may be used and a request for reimbursement can be submitted after the trip. For more information on reimbursement methods, see the Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies page.

In the cases where lodging arrangements include contracts or agreements with terms and conditions requiring a signature, such as for the lease of a home or room blocks for 10 or more travelers, these should be booked through the appropriate channel and paid through a requisition in iProcurement; not with personal funds or TCard. 

More information about lodging policies and guidelines can be found on the Lodging Policy page.

Last Updated: Jun 9, 2023