While higher education travel has slowed significantly due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it will, at some point, pick up again. When it does, schools will want to make sure they have addressed travel program gaps that were exposed by the pandemic, as well as consider ways to make travel more efficient and cost-effective. So, while we wait for the “all clear” what can higher education institutions do to ensure their travel programs and faculty, staff and students are ready to go when that time comes?
Making sure your faculty, staff, and students have access to the lowest travel supplier rates will be crucial for budgeting purposes. So, make sure your travelers utilize your preferred suppliers and contracts, as well as those provided by your travel management company. A directive from school leadership advising travelers of the need to use preferred suppliers and rates is highly recommended. To see if your travelers are heeding this advice, your TMC should be able to provide you with reporting and analytics that shows which suppliers are being utilized, as well as missed savings opportunities.
If there’s one thing we should be learning from this Pandemic as it relates to higher education travel, it’s how important “on-the-grid” travel is. From a traveler safety and security standpoint, allowing travelers to book reservations outside your travel management company (TMC) leaves them without the support they may need if they find themselves in a precarious situation. Booking “off-the-grid” also opens up your school to potential liability issues if something unfortunate were to befall your traveler and you didn’t have the proper resources in place to respond quickly to their needs. A travel management company can advise best practices for getting as many travelers as possible booking through the approved channel.
Another important area of your travel program that you’ll want to be ready for is managing travel risks. How will your school’s risk department and your travelers know if they’ve booked travel to a risky location? While they are traveling, how will they be notified if there are travel risks that they should be aware of? Does your risk department have a platform that enables them to reach out to multiple travelers at one time to ask if they need assistance? These are all questions you want to be asking now, so that you have solutions in place when travel starts up again.
There are more areas of your travel program that you’ll want to audit, but considering the current times, those listed above highlight how important a travel program is to a school and why it’s imperative they are routinely audited. Contact Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited for assistance.