On Aug. 3, the University’s Travel and Payment Card Services team will formally launch the Concur Travel System, World Travel, Inc., as well as the Travel & Expense Card Program. Rebecca Spanos, Travel and Payment Card Services manager, talks about this campuswide endeavor.
- Congratulations on the upcoming launch – approximately how long have you been working on this project and how many people were involved?
- Thank you, we are very excited to finally be bringing this to campus! The project formally began in January 2019 with a bid process to select a travel expense management solution. Our dedicated project team has been a collaboration of a couple dozen employees from Procurement Services, Information Technology Services and the Finance and Operations Service Center of Excellence. However, we have also engaged key stakeholders across campus both in the travel expense management solution bid process and the travel management company bid process. It’s truly been a team effort and we’re so grateful to everyone who’s been involved.
- What improvements will campus find with the new system?
- Too many to count! From automatic calculation of foreign conversion rates, to built-in Google maps for mileage expenses, to receipt capture via the mobile app, this system has bells and whistles for days. The online booking tool, Concur Travel, will allow University travelers to be directly involved in the booking process and not have to rely on travel agent assistance (unless they want it!). And the Travel & Expense Card will significantly limit the out-of-pocket burden of University travel and the administrative burden of submitting for expense reimbursement.
- Tell us a little more about World Travel, Inc., how it interacts with our Concur tools, and how bringing them aboard will affect CABS and Web Travel.
- World Travel, Inc. (WTI) is our new travel agency partner supporting all aspects of University business travel*. Booking with WTI can either be accomplished online via Concur Travel, or by contacting their team of dedicated agents directly. WTI will not only be supporting air travel for the university, but also lodging, rental car and train. They also have extensive resources to support group travel, study abroad, and meetings & events. Infrequent travelers, or those not eligible for a T&E Card, will still have the ability to direct bill their airfare purchases to the University (similar to CABS). And WTI will be supporting CABS bookings for students and guests while we work to move those populations out of Web Travel and into Concur.
*The Department of Athletics will continue to be supported by their travel agency partner, Anthony Travel.
- How does the Travel & Expense (T&E) Card differ from the P-Card?
- While both cards are provided by Bank of America, they serve very different purposes. The T&E Card will be for business travel expenses as well as business entertainment expenses (whether local or associated with travel). The T&E Cards will be issued to an individual employee for the purpose of their University business spending needs only. There will be some slight overlap in allowable expenses between the two card products, but we have a Quick Reference Card that clearly diagrams what the two cards are to be used for.
- How did the pandemic affect the plans of this release, and what did you learn through that process?
- The first phase of this project, Concur Request/Expense and the Travel & Expense Card, were scheduled to launch to a pilot group on April 15, 2020. When campus and travel began shutting down in March 2020, we knew we had to postpone. Over the remainder of 2020 and into the final days of fiscal year 2020-21, we continued to have to delay the launch as conditions were not right for travel. This gave us time to focus on the second phase of the project: consolidating our University travel agencies and obtaining an online booking tool. Staying flexible throughout the past two years has enabled us to get to where we are today with a complete, end-to-end travel solution that is ready to be launched to all faculty and staff.
- What happens next as campus moves forward with this new system?
- Effective Aug. 3, all faculty and staff will have access to the new travel system. Our expectation is that all new travel which needs to be booked or reimbursed from that date forward will be processed via Concur and WTI. Most reimbursements for travel prior to Aug. 3 should be completed and processed in Web Travel. Stay tuned for further updates and be sure to check out our robust suite of training materials in the meantime!