Universities are global institutions and travel is essential to their operations. Academics attend meetings across the globe, students travel abroad on study visits and relationships are forged with international businesses and overseas higher education institutions. However, universities are under pressure to monitor spending, streamline their processes and minimise travel costs.
Here are some tips to help keep staff moving for less…
Tip 1â€¨: gain support for and implement a travel policy
One of the most important factors in driving down the cost of travel is a robust travel policy that clearly sets out guidelines for staff. This details which airlines, cabin classes, ticket types and hotels they are advised to book. This is not without its challenges – particularly in a university where procedures and habits can vary considerably across departments. â€¨â€¨The key challenge lies in persuading staff of the benefits of collective buying and to make them the ‘cheerleaders’ for the new policy. The roll out of an accessible training and information programme which ‘sells’ the advantages to them while helping the university to save money is crucial. A seasoned travel partner can help with this and lend weight by demonstrating the benefits that can accrue.â€¨â€¨Playing the competitive card by using examples of others who have introduced a successful travel policy can also be a powerful influence in persuading staff to comply.
Tip 2â€¨: if you can’t measure it; you can’t manage it
Travel management information reports can be useful for assessing an organisation’s travel patterns and identifying where savings can be made. They can pinpoint negative areas, for example buying tickets on the day of travel at train stations, or booking flights at the last minute. It is, of course, not always possible to book travel weeks in advance. However, better monitoring of travel buying habits and spending can be used to encourage staff to extend the average ‘booking window’ across an organisation – leading to cheaper fares and reduced costs.
Tip 3: think about the total cost of travel
It’s easy to focus on the headline price – such as an air ticket or hotel booking. However there are a number of other costs that may add significantly to the travel process. These include time spent researching prices, gaining approval for the expenditure, booking on multiple websites, obtaining visas, and then reclaiming expenses or settling invoices. The savings opportunities from reviewing the end to end process can be significant.
A number of universities have begun to review the entire process as a total cost. Introducing innovations such as, automatic authorisation below spend thresholds, consolidated invoicing, direct invoicing feeds into integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and enabling travellers to create their own quotes using online tools and then sending them to authorised bookers for completion, can take away many of these costs.
Most universities belong to a purchasing consortium which has in place a framework that is there to provide responsible and cost-effective travel. So do check this out and ensure you get the best deals coupled with stress-free travel.
Andy Speller is Managing Director of Key Travel, a travel management company dedicated to the not-for-profit and academic sectors. For more information visit www.keytravel.com