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Why every university needs AirPlus’ powerful travel payments solution

In Australia alone, there are over 120,000 full-time equivalent staff working in universities across the country.

With many of these employees travelling domestically and internationally, travel budgets consume a large percentage of faculty budgets.

Travel is an area where expenses can be moderated by an efficient and integrated travel payment solution, such as AirPlus. This powerful and strategic tool reduces costs by effectively managing the extensive travel outlays of an organisation.

At AirPlus, we know that trying to control the costs incurred from travel can be time-consuming and complicated. With budgets tight and accounts departments requiring clear data, customised and effective systems need to be implemented.

Although universities can hire full-time employees to handle staff and student travel, without access to the latest cost-saving technology or possessing expert capabilities, it merely becomes a service and not a cohesive value-add approach.

Even though travel payment systems are not new, what you are probably not aware of is just how beneficial they can be for higher learning institutions. Travel payment systems are perceived by many as the domain of the corporate world, but universities are missing out on an effective way to drive efficiency and transparency and provide sophisticated data management. These factors all tangibly affect the bottom line.

At AirPlus, we understand that universities do not operate in the same way as corporate businesses. Often there is a strict mandate of preferred processes in place that can make it impossible to implement new practices. Therefore, our system is adapted and fine-tuned to synchronise with the high standards of our academic clients. We can provide higher learning institutions an integrated business travel payment and management solution that streamlines the entire university’s travel spend.

When partnering with a university, we create one powerful and customised system that efficiently manages their specific travel program. Our system centrally handles all travel expenses and produces essential bespoke data. It ensures all travel expenses incurred from work and education related trips operate effectively for the university. It also addresses university specific concerns, including leakage outside of approved channels and the time spent by Professors and senior staff processing travel claims.

Having partnered with many leading higher learning institutions, AirPlus understands that universities often deal with various administrative systems and workflows. Air travel, accommodation and travel management company (TMC) booking fees are regularly charged to traveller’s credit cards, colleagues or university purchasing hubs, or through a complex Purchase Order Process. This may seem the best or only option, but it’s a time-consuming process for staff.

In most cases, invoices raised by TMC’s are acquitted against credit card transactions in the expense management system. The expense reports are then audited for accuracy and policy compliance before the transactions are uploaded into the accounting system. Complicated, right?

There are many aspects to travel payments, and it can all be very simple. Answering a few questions will highlight where payments can streamline processes, such as:

  • How do travellers pay for their trips?
  • Does this comply with the organisation wide travel policy?
  • Are the payment, expense, accounting solutions integrated?
  • How long does it take travellers to complete their travel expense claims?
  • Is there a process to identify transactions that may incur fringe benefits tax (FBT)?
  • How Is leakage reduced for travel bookings outside of approved booking providers?
  • Is a Purchase Order Process being used for single bookings?
  • What data is collected from the payment transactions?
  • Is data gathered both usable and valuable?

These answers will help form the basis of a tailored system. Surely, a more cost-effective, efficient and transparent approach that tackles the above factors, and provides real accounting data, is an attractive solution?

How does the AirPlus system help with university travel payments?

  • We understand that each university has its own bespoke travel policy, preferred booking channels and specifications. We don’t provide a one size fits all product, instead we deliver a flexible solution that is customised for each institution
  • We will comprehensively assess your needs and supply expert advice
  • We are already integrated with travel suppliers and have compliant file types and transmission methods to many expense and finance systems
  • When it comes to payment, settling, and analysing business travel expenses, we know that every university or school has its own individual conditions. AirPlus’ business travel solutions deliver the right tools for each requirement and provide complete control of incurred expenses, while significantly simplifying your travel cost management. We do this with:
    • A centralised account to pay for all flights, travel agency fees and charges, Travel Visa costs and car rentals
    • Global Payment coverage for hotels with our unique virtual Mastercard product and integration to hotel reservation specialists
    • A reporting tool that provides an overview and detailed information on total travel spend. Accessible 24/7, your teams can easily create their own reports
    • Electronic delivery of transactions and statements, with all required cost coding, to simplify the integration into your accounting and financial systems
  • We employ the latest technology with our extensive range of automated data quality systems. These provide more consistent and transparent statements and transactional data, bespoke for accounting processes. So, whether expenses need to be allocated by faculty, department, program or academic/ non-academic clubs, statements can be customised for seamless invoice reconciliation.
  • AirPlus also offers access to:
    • Fully individualised statements with up to 9 customised data fields
    • Travel agency fees attributed to each specific trip
    • 5 electronic file formats allowing easy integration into accounting systems
    • Flexible billing cycle dates
    • Dedicated account management

But why would a university or higher learning establishment choose AirPlus’ unique system over other travel payment processes available?

  1. Proven capability – we specialise in delivering tangible benefits to Australian universities: Cost and time savings, process automation, fraud and error reduction
  2. Automatic expense reconciliation: incorporate all travel-related billing data directly into your travel expense reporting or accounting systems prevent errors in data entry.
  3. Cost-effective solution – all travel is paid centrally giving you transparency over all your transactions. Instead of processing countless individual receipts, you’ll receive a single transparent GST compliant statement pooled from all your travel expenses. Data integration also speed up tasks significantly.
  4. Daily transaction feed – follow daily spend and control budgets with timely data from all transactions
  5. Complete customisation – allows bespoke data formatting, delivery, billing, payment timing and reporting in line with university requirements
  6. Local account management - supported by an experienced team led by a dedicated AirPlus Travel Manager.

David Newington, Regional Director at AirPlus

“No matter how they tailor it, universities using our AirPlus central billing account will receive just one bill for all travel – once a month, at a date that suits them. We can integrate travel management data into any university's existing systems to reduce manual data entry; TMC booking fees are quickly allocated to the right cost centres; and, importantly, those travelling do not need to worry about individual corporate cards or individual credit limits while on the road. Combining a lodge card and a virtual card program, AirPlus can offer a richness of data. “The AirPlus Company Account is accepted worldwide, and our AirPlus Business Travel Portal allows access to up to the minute data on travel spend at any time during the month. Overall, the AirPlus Company Account saves an enormous amount of time reconciling and inputting travel transaction charges while improving transparency, the ability to track and measure spend, and the experience for travelling employees,” he continued.

For example, with one of our university partners, we created a university-wide mandate to reduce some key issues and produce more efficient ways to:

  • Flag transactions that could be liable for FBT
  • Reduce manual invoice reconciliation processes
  • Increase visibility on travel spend
  • Enhanced management of the reconciliation process when dealing with third party credit cards and reduction of their use
  • Reduce travel booking leakages to non–approved TMCs and websites

We delivered a centralised, complete payment solution that integrated with their existing systems. Using a central AirPlus billing account, they now receive just one bill for all their travel in a month and have significantly reduced the time spent on reconciling invoices and auditing expense reports. On top of all that, we managed to reduce leakage and cut invoicing processing time.

So, with the AirPlus system, our customer now enjoys the benefits of:

  • Efficiency - all travel is invoiced, acquitted and paid centrally
  • Reduced effort – with centralised acquittal it reduced the need for input from travellers or travel arrangers
  • Fast upload of data – all spend figures can be uploaded quickly and easily into their expense management system, SAP
  • Speedier access to spend data – each faculty and department can promptly access spend data
  • Reduced risk – through reduced credit card limits
  • Compliance - fewer bookings made through non-approved booking channels
  • Cost savings – with process efficiencies and time savings
  • Reporting capability - better data for FBT tracking, enabling travel spend to be uploaded into SAP within just a couple weeks

The Category Manager, Strategic Procurement for our partner university said:

“On top of the savings in time and effort reconciling travel expenses, AirPlus provides a sophisticated, user-friendly reporting tool from the AirPlus Information Manager. This reporting tool provides easy to use and configurable data fields that allow Monash to report on any element or aspect of our travel and expense program. This has saved Monash many hours as we now have an easy to use reporting tool at our fingertips."

Over the years, AirPlus has helped many universities cut costs, streamline processes and provide higher level traveller satisfaction by providing a complete and accurate picture of travel spend.

Universities around the world choose AirPlus as their busines travel payment partner purely because it’s smart, simple and safe.

To find out more about how AirPlus can revolutionise your university travel payment processes, please contact us:

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