Graduating to Managed Travel in Higher Education

If you don’t work with higher education institutions frequently, you might not realize this: Universities are complex and dynamic institutions, constantly changing and have specific travel program needs. 

Due to their large scale and the privacy regulations that exist, universities require managed travel programs that emphasize communication to ensure traveler safety. 

But what’s the best way to meet the critical goals when creating a travel program for universities and colleges?  We know that by creating strong policies, utilizing user-friendly technology solutions and gaining top-level support, universities can achieve success.

Scale and regulations cause communication roadblocks

Universities are large institutions that remain highly regulated in some cases. Because of the size and complexity of these organizations, communication is imperative. Travel managers often work to effectively communicate directly with travelers, but often fall short of reaching this goal for a few reasons.

First, privacy regulations make it difficult to maintain constant communication with travelers. These regulations are in place to protect the privacy of students, faculty and staff. Second, because of the significant amount of travelers, it’s difficult to connect with each traveler regularly.

Last, travelers often book out of policy and utilize non-compliant booking tools. While they may work with an agent upfront, they ultimately book on their own. This lack of adoption reduces transparency and makes it nearly impossible to track travelers.

Our recommendation: 

  • Develop processes and policies, so travelers know when and where to book their travel.
  • Implement technology that sends updates to key individuals who need to know when travelers book a trip or make changes.

Risk management communications support duty of care

Communication and risk management go hand-in-hand. When students, faculty and staff travel on behalf of the university, the university has a responsibility to make sure their travelers are safe. In the event of a crisis, travel managers must be able to locate and support affected travelers with effective communication and getting them out of a crises quickly.

Our recommendation: 

  • Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to identify gaps in the current risk management strategy.
  • Prepare contingency plans for potential risks and include travel managers and other duty of care stakeholders in the process.
  • Partner with a travel management company (TMC) to learn how to manage travel spend without sacrificing traveler safety.

Successful communication starts from the top

As with any new organizational change, education is the key to adoption. University leaders must align to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals to make the travel program successful. If stakeholders get left in the dark, there is a higher likelihood of failure.

Your travel department is in a unique position to make smart business decisions on behalf of the organization, influence travel adoption behavior across the university which ultimately ensures that travelers are safe.

A TMC can help manage the communication process along with the broader cost savings goals of the organization by helping to create a travel policy and increase traveler adoption.

Our recommendation:

  • Educate leaders about the importance of travel adoption by hosting brown bag learning sessions.
  • Partner with marketing and communications to develop a change management campaign that educates travelers at your institution to increase adoption.

Travel management companies are knowledgeable when it comes to building effective travel programs for all sizes of university systems. With a comprehensive set of solutions, universities and colleges can reach their duty of care goals without straining the travel budget.

To learn more, speak with an expert consultant from Direct Travel today.