As the manager of California’s travel program, Bill Amaral’s oversight extends beyond typical business travelers to include all sorts of government workers. During the pandemic, that has meant helping to move around health professionals and other essential personnel.
An original impetus behind the state’s virtual payment program was avoiding concerns about travelers’ limited credit on personal credit cards. Now, credit on corporate cards also may be inadequate “as a result of Covid,” said Amaral. The flexibility for workers to get their lodging without worrying about payment has been “invaluable,” he said.
Amaral said the state sourced 2,000 hotels for healthcare workers. He expected virtual payment volume could surpass $200 million once the state sources more properties for additional purposes, including mass shelter for those displaced by wildfires and those involved in seasonal harvests.
Hotels must support California’s virtual payment process if they want a spot in the state’s lodging program. California’s virtual payment providers include Citi, Conferma, HRS and Mastercard. TravelStore is the designated travel management company.