Survey shows HE travel buying trends

Fresh insight into the travel buying behaviour of universities and colleges is released via Key Travel’s annual client survey

Higher education institutions responded to the latest annual survey in record numbers, with responses received from over 1,000 people working at or with universities and colleges, up by 102 per cent on last year.

As well as providing the leading travel management company in the not-for-profit sector with a wealth of information on which to base its future development and services, the breadth and depth of questions and answers provide a valuable indicator to travel habits of the academic sector as a whole.

Despite pressures on university budgets, travel booking confidence for the next year is strong with over three-quarters (86%) expecting travel budgets to either increase or stay the same.

Other key findings include:

– The academic sector comes out top in the use of travel policy management, with 87 per cent of academic clients having a travel policy, compared with 83 per cent from the broader not-for-profit sector, which also includes charities and humanitarian organisations. Nearly all (98%) respondents from universities or colleges who know their organisation’s travel policy say that they understand its contents and how it applies to them.

– Universities and colleges are only slightly behind the broader not-for-profit sector in their risk management practices for staff travelling under their auspices. Nearly one-third (30%) of respondents from the academic sector affirmed that they provide risk management trainings and briefings to staff before they travel compared with an average of 38 per cent from the not-for-profit sector overall.

– The use of online booking sites to book travel has doubled in one year – with 32 per cent of respondents using websites as their preferred booking channel, compared with just 14 per cent who indicated the same preference in last year’s survey. Email remains the most popular booking channel – with 49 per cent saying that they use it as their preferred method for arranging travel.

– The use of mobile apps is also widespread among digital-savvy academic staff, with just under a third (30%) reporting the use of mobile technology to keep them moving and away from trouble. Mobile technology is most commonly used for ‘travel disruption alerts’, ‘itinerary management’ and ‘reviews and recommendations’.

– When respondents were asked how influential certain factors would be in the way they procure travel in the next three years, the overwhelming majority (59%) believed that budgets and funding would take precedence. Second came ‘internal procurement directives’ at 22 per cent and ‘internal structural changes’ at 14 per cent.

Spence Knudson, CEO of Key Travel, says: “I am immensely pleased with the response that we have seen from our academic clients to this year’s survey. It is a welcome indicator of the strength of our customer relationships and the depth of our engagement with the higher education sector.

“We regard these findings as an extremely valuable tool that will provide us with insight into the travel buying behaviours and priorities of our customers, allowing us to determine what is important to them and shape service delivery and product development accordingly.”

Key Travel’s survey was carried out through December 2013 and January 2014, with 1,680 responses completed and returned by clients from across all subsectors of the not-for-profit sector and a percentage response rate of 11 per cent.



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