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 Topic Overview: Planning and Booking Travel.

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.

It is highly encouraged that Stanford travelers use Stanford Travel booking channels when booking flights, hotels, and rental cars for university-sponsored travel. Stanford Travel booking channels automatically register itineraries and any booking updates to the Travel Registry, streamline the reimbursement process, and offer discounts, benefits, and perks to travelers. In addition, the Stanford Travel team can provide specialized assistance as needed to travelers who book through Stanford Travel.

While Stanford Travel booking channels are a great option for most domestic and international travel, there are certain types of travel that need to be booked directly with the airline or hotel. These may include regional air travel offered by local carriers, travel for field research, ticket exchanges or reissues, or certain group reservations. See the Airfare and Lodging pages for more detail on booking and managing those travel arrangements.

For more information about business and travel policies see the Topic Overview: Business and Travel Expense Policies.

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. Per purchasing guidance for event venues arranging for a university-sponsored event at an off-campus event space, such as hotel conference facilities, requires a contract. See event contract considerations.

Hotels with Master Service Agreements (MSAs)

An MSA is an overarching, university-wide service agreement that details the legal terms that will govern future transactions, the business terms of which will be issued in the form of a Statement of Work or Purchase Order for each specific event, project, and/or period of time. Refer to How To: Search for a Master Service Agreement to search in SmartMart Contracts for an MSA.

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 an iProcurement requisition with the quote attached.
  4. The system references the MSA on the PO.
  5. The terms of the MSA provide that the hotel will accept that PO without a signature on the quote.
  6. The quote, as an attachment to the PO, is sent to the hotel. Once the hotel receives the PO, the terms 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 a TCard. 

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

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2024