University travel policies are striking the right balance between technology automation and traveller autonomy.
The rise of new travel technologies and an industry-wide shift that is seeing more trust being put in the traveller, is redefining the traditional university travel policy.
Travel Policy Improvements
In particular, the travel policy approval process has undergone massive changes, with many universities now using cutting-edge technology to help streamline and automate their approval process.
FCM Travel Solutions General Manager Academic, Kristy Fennell, said there were numerous Australian universities spearheading positive changes in this space.
“Policy changes to improve and streamline travel approvals is currently a hot topic for tertiary education organisations,” Ms Fennell said. “We’ve come from a time where the travel approval process for a university was paper based or done via emails, to the current environment where they have specific platforms to automate the approval process and travel policies are not as strict or complex.
“We’re seeing university management place far more trust in their travellers for booking domestic trips. Domestic itineraries including travel for six days or under that don’t require a travel diary or point-to-point international trips to frequently visited, low risk destinations now are approved automatically at some organisations.
“The benefits of these policy changes have been profound in terms of happier travellers, reduced workload for a university’s finance team and a general boost for productivity for those that would have previously been involved in the approval process workflow – such as Faculty or department heads that traditionally were required to sign off on travel.”
Business Travel Policy Trends
Ms Fennell said the trend where management was putting the responsibility to comply with policy back on the traveller was an industry-wide trend across the business travel sector.
“This trend has been visible across the corporate travel sector for a while but has been really gaining momentum in the academic space of late. Universities have traditionally been very savvy when it comes to adopting new travel technologies, and now with the move to make the traveller responsible for their bookings, policy changes are helping universities overcome travel pain points."
Benefits of Travel Policy Changes for Universities:
- New-generation policies are improving the traveller experience, and helping to drive compliance
- Travellers are more likely to use online booking tools, due to quick and easy approvals, which means universities have more visibility of their travellers
- Greater visibility of travellers helps an organisation to strengthen a duty of care program and provide better traveller support
- Universities can achieve up to 30% reduction in airfare costs by removing approvals, so airfares don’t expire
- Overall, universities can achieve a significant reduction in staff costs associated with complex approval processes.
Ms Fennell said FCM was working with its academic clients to simplify their travel policies to a single page containing the critical elements for a traveller or travel booker.
New Online Booking Tools
Innovation in online booking tool functionality is also enabling organisations to manage approvals to better suit their needs.
“At FCM for example our online booking platform can be configured to suit auto-approval processes and for those with more complex approval processes we have a pre-trip approval platform that integrates with your online booking tool and third-party vendors such as ISOS,” Ms Fennell said. “At the end of the day it’s about being able to meet the specific needs of a business or operation, as well as making sure the experience is easy and hassle-free for the traveller.”