Research by Campus Travel shows academia is applying smarter purchasing strategies to its travel than ever before. This behavioural shift is not only delivering cost benefits to learning organisations, but changing the way the travel industry meets their needs.
The last 12 months have firmed as a year of cost consolidation, according to an air travel analysis undertaken by Campus Travel. Universities and other educational groups, eager for cost reduction and guided by our academic travel specialists, improved their approach to air travel buying. In the process, they reaped average savings of almost 30% on their international air travel and around 18% on their domestic air travel.
The education sector trended towards more cost effective travel as the need for value continued to be a priority Australia-wide. Key findings in our study included the following, which represented the national average:
Percentage of bookings using Best Fare of the Day (BFOD)
- 77% domestic
- 81% international
Savings achieved by using BFOD
- 17.5% domestic
- 29.1% international
Percentage of bookings in Business Class
- 2% domestic
- 9% international
Most used carrier - Qantas
- 81% domestic
- 49% international
Average advance purchase days (domestic flights) - 26
Average advance purchase days (international flights) - 62
Uptake of Campus Travel’s e3 online booking tool - 54%
Average ticket price (domestic) - $405
Average ticket price (international) - $1,716
These results provided a clear sign that academic organisations were aiming to reduce their average ticket prices and travel spend by:
- opting for best fares and low cost economy seats rather than business class seats, where practical
- using an online booking tool to source the best possible fares while saving their people time in the process
- consolidating their travel with just one or a few airlines, to negotiate better fares
- planning their travel further ahead and booking as much as one to two months in advance.
In addition to these strategies for bringing costs down, universities made further improvements by updating their travel policies, reviewing and re-negotiating with their suppliers, and implementing reporting tools so they could track their expenditure.
These developments have been encouraging for the academic sector, revealing that investment in change has paid dividends and given their air travel budgets more ‘fuel for further mileage’.
How trends are shaping the travel industry
Fluctuations in global economic conditions will continue to impact buying confidence for some time yet. Yet this dynamic environment will empower academic travellers from a cost perspective.
With travel demand and spend – both in the air and on the ground - unlikely to return to 2007 levels this year, learning industries can continue to focus on how much they can potentially save rather than how much they are spending.
Service reliability, security and convenience remain the priorities regardless of cost, as these elements impact directly on travellers’ productivity. But if prices start to rise in the form of higher airfares, fuel surcharges or higher hotel rates, academic travel buyers need to be on the look-out for added extras in their spend.
Free transfers with flights, free breakfasts and/or Wi-Fi with hotel room bookings, and complimentary sat-nav with vehicle hire, are among the benefits already within many travellers’ reach. And with buyer behaviour becoming increasingly strategic and cost-conscious, we could see more travel suppliers refining their products to focus on what travellers want most. This is not a new development, but one that is likely to gather pace in the year ahead.
What does this mean for your organisation?
The bottom line is that cost-saving opportunities in academic travel abound - with the right approach.
While it can be a challenge for learning organisations to deal directly with suppliers, Campus Travel can do this to your greater benefit. Through our strong relationships with a broad range of industry suppliers, we can manage the negotiating process for our clients and achieve better outcomes.
In many cases, the academic rates we negotiate are up to 30% lower than standard rates. They can also be markedly lower than the so-called ‘special’ conference rates offered to academic travelers who are attending conferences at hotels. So it’s important to always let us source quotes for you before you make your bookings.
Our job is to help your organisation achieve the best possible value from your budget. This involves identifying and advising on cost-saving opportunities, strengthening your travel policy, and helping your organisation mandate its policy to realise significant improvements.
Through our e3 technology, for example, Campus Travel Has helped universities smarten their buying practices, achieve higher policy compliance and consolidate their travel expenditure.
If your organisation hasn’t taken the steps to review and/or improve these aspects of your travel management, Campus Travel can guide you through this essential process. We can also assist you in implementing cost-saving tools including online booking technology and travel reporting. With all of these elements combined, you will have a more complete and informed approach to your travel – the most effective way to optimise your budget.