BLOG: Higher Ed Travel Program Cost Controls

More and more higher education institutions are searching for ways to control costs and drive savings in their budgets due to the challenges posed by decreased state funding, students’ price sensitivity and the net zero revenues from increased tuition costs coupled with tuition discounting. Often overlooked, but not for a lack of savings potential, is the higher education institution’s travel program. Many colleges and universities simply aren’t aware of the supplier discounts they could be taking advantage of and the potential savings to be had by slightly modifying traveler behaviors.


How do you get started? You’ll first want to gain visibility into your travel spend. That consists of looking at your annual spend levels with your individual travel suppliers and spend totals across supplier categories like air, car and hotel. This reveals insight into whether or not you have opportunities to negotiate contracts with suppliers or shift volume to those suppliers that can better serve your travel patterns. This addresses the “what you book” aspect of your travel program. It’s also wise to look into traveler behavior, or “how you book.” For example, are your travelers booking with your preferred suppliers, how far in advance are they booking their trips and are they booking supplier offerings like basic economy and non-refundable hotel rooms? What and how your travelers book all have costs and savings opportunities associated with them – you just need to be able to see and understand what those are.


Having access to a travel data analytics platform that empowers you to quickly understand your savings opportunities is strongly recommended. Imagine, for example, being able to see what percentage of your travelers book their airline tickets 3, 7, 14 and 21 days out from day of departure and the amount of savings associated with booking travel at each of those intervals. In a matter of minutes you can determine where the low-hanging fruit is and build a strategy for achieving those savings. Travel data analytics platforms allow you to get that kind of insight with many other travel program metrics. Another benefit of an analytics tool is that goals can be set up as key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitored for achievement towards those objectives. If you discover that you’re not on track to reach your goals, you can re-calibrate your strategy. The key point to remember is that travel data analytics suddenly makes your data actionable, and that’s how you get the insight that illuminates savings opportunities.


If your school’s travel program has been overlooked in the past as a driver for cost savings, now is the time to reconsider its potential. For access to travel data analytics and assistance re-configuring your institution’s travel program, contact Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited.