UQ's new Travel Program

21 Sep 2016

I want to highlight how important travel is to our University’s academic and research work. It is through these endeavours with our wider community that we ensure our perspective remains contemporary, our networks are relevant and we remain a community well informed of the real issues, academic debate and current research directions.

UQ spends more on travel than any other Australian University. Travel is the University’s third largest category of expenditure and benchmarking data suggests for a University of our size, travel costs us 65% more than it should to manage. In terms of internal bureaucracy, travel was rated by staff as the second worst service at UQ (UniForum Service Effectiveness survey 2015).

A number of weeks ago, I committed to providing the University community with a plan to improve our Travel Program. I am pleased to announce the Travel Improvement Project is well underway to deliver benefits and outcomes that will transform the way we conduct and manage our travel.

To reward UQ staff and students, we have developed a Personal Travel Benefits Program for your own personal travel, including:

  • Exclusive access to Travel Club, a personal leisure travel service with no service fees. UQ staff and students will receive a $50 travel voucher when they register.
  • Discounts on airport lounge memberships (salary packaging available).
  • Free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership for UQ Travellers as well as their family and friends.
  • Further leisure discounts on Qantas and Virgin flights, as well as hire car services.

Whether it is within Australia or overseas we must ensure the University is getting the best value and the right outcomes from such a significant investment of resources. Our travel choices must be reasonable and publicly defensible. Best practice buying behaviour, such as flying Economy class and buying cheaper fares in advance, means we can do more with our existing travel budgets.

Recent events overseas have demonstrated that it is no longer just high risk destinations that pose a threat to travellers’ safety. It is the University’s responsibility to know where travellers are and provide assistance in case of an emergency. However, we can only do this if travellers book through the UQ Travel Agent, Campus Travel. To make it easier and better value for travellers, the University will centrally absorb the travel booking fees for Campus Travel. From 1 September 2016, travellers will no longer be charged booking fees by Campus Travel. Campus Travel also offer a price beat guarantee, so travellers should be receiving best value for money. Dashboard reporting from Campus Travel will be made available to senior management to report on buying behaviour and identify travellers booking outside of policy.

The UQ Online Booking Tool provides access to UQ discounted rates for booking flights, accommodation and car hire. This not only makes booking easier, but ensures we can conduct our travel at the best value.

What are the upcoming highlights and when can we expect to see them?

Phase 1 – With effect from December 2016

  • A new, simplified Travel Policy and Procedure that will empower and trust staff while making sure controls are appropriate, ensuring travellers and the University meet corporate responsibilities.
  • No pre-trip approval form for domestic travel. Domestic travel only requires written approval (email for example) from your line manager. No need to use the UniFi pre-trip approval application for domestic travel (currently up to 5 approval levels).
  • A new travel website - a ‘one-stop shop’ for UQ Travellers.

Phase 2 – To be delivered in Quarter 1 2017

  • A new user-friendly international travel pre-trip approval application, reducing the number of approval steps.
  • A new Expense Management System (EMS) for easy reconciliation of travel expenses, including the ability to capture and upload receipts via mobile devices. EMS is a large project in itself and requires extensive integration with existing systems, change management and training of approximately 4000 people.
  • A central payment method to enable travellers to book airfares and accommodation directly through the UQ online booking tool or a Campus Travel consultant. Cheap fares won’t be lost due to waiting on time consuming payment methods such as purchase orders.
  • A new arrangement to provide travel risk and advice services to help support both travellers and approvers.

Phase 3 – To be delivered in Quarter 2 2017

  • Standardised and rationalised payment methods.
  • Improved reporting and business intelligence.

What’s next?

The project team will be working hard to deliver against the planned timeframes and will provide further updates as they progress. Further details, including key initiatives and a high-level delivery timeline, is available on the  Travel Improvement Project website.

If you have any questions for the Travel Improvement Project, please contact the team at: enhancingservices@uq.edu.au.


Greg Pringle

Chief Operating Officer

The University of Queensland