John Whitlow of Imperial College (pictured) made the comments while describing the evolution of travel management at the university. Imperial has an Oracle purchasing system and is keen to have travel data which will integrate into that.
Whitlow said: “We don’t want to go down the expense management system option but want to link with the university system. Oracle is well tried and tested. We don’t use cards except for a lodge card so don’t want to use [payment cards]. This is a different model. We hope it will be successful.”
Whitlow, head of procurement, said that the University “had tried a lot of things” in trying to harness its spend which he said was £13-14 million per annum (£6-7 million on air, £5 million on hotels and some rail).
Although it had used both consortia and alliances in the past, Whitlow said that Imperial was now dropping its most recent policy of a single supplier (travel management company) in favour of a shared situation. He said, “We have two agents but will encourage people to go through the nominated agency. Choice is important because if people feel they’re being constrained, they push back.”
Whitlow joined Jeannette Harrison of the University of Nottingham and Tom McAra of the University of Glasgow in giving a case study of the issues and alternative solutions to managing university travel at Public Sector Travel’s Engage Universities conference.
Earlier both Harrison and McAra had described the unique complexities and challenges in managing travel at universities where much of the income came from research grants won by individual academics and not only the public sector and the travel profile encompassed academics, professional services and management.
The University of Nottingham has recently undergone a complete review of its travel and has now introduced a mandated travel policy with a single travel management company, American Express, as well as a card programme managed by AirPlus and an expense management system from Concur.
The University of Glasgow is included in the Scottish Government collaboration which earlier this year awarded the contract for its travel management to Expotel.