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University Finance and Administration

Rutgers Travel Online Booking Tool Takes Off

In a strategic update intended to simplify and streamline the reservation booking process for university travel, University Procurement Services has launched the Rutgers Travel Online Booking Tool

The online booking tool – Rutgers’ official destination to book university-related air, hotel, rental car, and Amtrak reservations for domestic and international travel – improves the user experience by taking cues from web-based booking sites. Akin to commercial travel booking sites, the online booking tool searches hundreds of travel sites to aggregate pricing information and other relevant details. After arrangements are selected, submitted, and approved, travelers can integrate their travel information on the online booking tool platform with TripIt, a digital trip planner and flight tracker. By connecting to TripIt from within the online booking tool, travelers gain access to a schedule that consolidates all travel details in one place that can be accessed from both iPhone and Android. 

“Our travel needs are not unique; partnering with a single travel agency and utilizing off-the-shelf software reduces the administrative complexity for our traveling community and alleviates the need for out-of-pocket expenses for air and Amtrak travel,” explained Nimish Patel, associate vice president of Procurement and chief procurement officer. 

The booking tool’s integrated workflow accommodates approvals, a feature that is expected to expedite approvals. This is an improvement upon the previous approvals process, which relied on DocuSign. The tool’s integrated workflow also allows costs for air and Amtrak travel to be charged directly to a designated university account or project/grant, a change that will significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

“The new system allows for easier booking, better services, fewer approvals, and fewer reimbursement requests — everyone wins,” said Anne Gutsick, associate director of Rutgers’ University Travel and Card Program, who notes that the university’s previous travel booking system was “antiquated” and belabored by several manual processes. Coordination with a Rutgers’ global travel agency also greatly simplifies the workflow

Over time, the online booking tool is expected to result in lower overall expenses and financial impact on departmental budgets. Additional discounts and amenities from travel partners will follow increased use of this travel program, further reducing financial burden. For example, travelers will have the ability to accrue frequent flyer and hotel loyalty points in their individual accounts for university-related travel arranged through the online booking tool or the university’s global travel agency. 

“The new system will aggregate travel-related data, which will provide insights that that will enable Rutgers to negotiate better rates with airlines, hotels, and other suppliers,” said Michael Philips, manager of the university’s travel program.

Additional benefits of the online booking tool include around-the-clock customer support and increased visibility into confirmed travel bookings. This insight, which would be especially valuable in the event of medical or security emergencies (i.e., natural disasters, civil unrest, acts of terrorism, war, pandemics, etc.), enables Rutgers to proactively assist travelers who are either affected or may be affected by such circumstances.

For more details and additional resources, please visit the Travel and Expense website. Questions about the new program may be directed to the University Procurement Services Help Desk