Murdoch University transforms its travel program by switching to Locomote

Murdoch University Locomote
"After realising that traditional travel companies couldn't meet our needs, we chose Locomote as our travel contractor".
- Amanda Bateman

In 2020, Murdoch University's travel booking system needed to be updated, fragmented, and in need of an overhaul. The COVID-19 Pandemic has exposed significant flaws. There were problems with keeping track of travellers' whereabouts, delayed approvals leading to higher prices, and inadequate risk management processes.

The university started searching for a new travel supplier to provide a centralised, efficient solution that could handle any travel request. After realising it needed more than a conventional travel company could offer, the university selected Locomote as its new supplier.

Locomote has dramatically improved the university's approval, booking and reporting processes. Locomote's ability tocentralise all travel arrangements has been crucial to the project's success. Ithas allowed the university to take advantage of negotiated pricing, and it cannow keep track of all its travellers in a single database.

In this case study, we describe how the university's travel program made the transition to Locomote in 3 sections:

- Why did Murdoch University need a new travel provider?
- How did Locomote help transform Murdoch University's travel program?
- What were the challenges with Murdoch University's previous travel program?

Why did Murdoch University need a new travel provider?

Recognising the need for change

Each year, hundreds of faculty members, staffand students undertake domestic and international travel to attend conferences,undertake research opportunities or complete teaching engagements. With atravel budget of more than $5.0M per year, the university was spendingsignificant time and money on travel bookings.

In 2020, the university identified some severe problems with its travel program and launched its Travel Transformation Project. The aims of the project were to:

·      increase cost-effectiveness and efficiency
·      improve traveller safety
·      add value for students and faculty.

Identifying the problems

The project team started by collecting feedback,holding stakeholder workshops and analysing data. This enabled them to identifykey challenges, risks and bottlenecks in the existing travel program.

The team identified several critical problems, and these are summarised below. A more detailed list is provided in section 3.

Outdated software platform. The system prevented the university from accessing affordable and flexible booking options. It created significant delays in travel bookings and authorisations. It did not include a risk management function, and it did not store accurate information about travellers' whereabouts.

Poor internal processes. The procedures forprocessing, storing and accessing travel records were inconsistent and oftenmanual. There was also an adhoc approach to booking accommodation which affected the university's ability to negotiate discounts.

Inadequate travel policies and procedures. The approval process for emergency travel was time-consuming and laborious, and the travel policy did not require students to book their travel through the university. Because the university had no oversight of students' travel, this led to safety risks and potential complications with travel insurance.

Responding to the imperatives

In addition to these problems, there were two other compelling reasons for the university to engage a new travel supplier.

End of contract with current supplier. The university's contract with its travel supplier had ended, and the supplier stopped providing services. Staff members were booking their own trips (which was against university policy), and a new supplier was urgently needed.

Commitment to sustainability. In March 2019, the university signed up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals program, which means reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability in general. To meet its commitment, the university needed to ensure that its travel program was as sustainable as possible.

Specifying the solution

In 2021, the university issued a request for proposals to engage a comprehensive travel services provider. Proposals needed to include:

·      a comprehensive technological solution that could handle any travel request
·      A central repository for all travel data, regardless of traveller category, funding source or booking origin
·      a risk management service and approval process
·      a way of tracking air miles to monitor sustainability goals.

Choosing the new provider

After realising that conventional travel companies couldn't meet their needs, Murdoch University chose Locomote as its travel contractor.

Locomote's product combines an online booking system with the option to plan more complicated trips directly with an agent while keeping all data in one centralised database. Its state-of-the-art workflow approval and booking technology is user-friendly, efficient, and reasonably priced.

How did Locomote help transform the Murdoch University program?

Since making the change to Locomote, Murdoch University's travel program has been transformed. The university has benefited from Locomote's cutting-edge technology and processes. These have led to increased efficiency, centralised data tracking and cost savings for travellers and the university.

Each of these benefits is described in detail below.

Cutting-edge technology and processes

State-of-the-art workflow approval and booking technology. Locomote provides the university with a streamlined and reliable method for handling all aspects of business travel, regardless of traveller category, funding source or booking origin.

New authorisation procedure. As part of the transition to Locomote, the university's travel policy now includes realtime fare accessibility and same-day approval by line managers. This has significantly reduced approval times and increased cost savings by maximising access to cheaper fares.

Self-service features and 'live-chat'support. Locomote's online booking tool allows travellers to search for, compare and submit their preferred airfares in realtime realtime and get almost-instantaneous approval. This gives travellers more controland makes booking easier.

Improved efficiency

Centralised database. All the university's travel data (regardless of traveller category, funding or booking origin) is now housed in Locomote's Centralised data warehouse. This means that data from all university travellers can be viewed and analysed, offering unlimited potential for analysis and further improvement.

Singlepoint of contact. The Locomote product combines its online booking system with the servicesof travel management company (TMC) for more complicated trips. Because the TMC issubcontracted to Locomote, this allows for streamlined management and a singlepoint of contact for the university.

Risk management for all travellers. Locomote, through its extensive marketplace partnerships, provides access to risk management services for all university travellers. Regardless of traveller category, funding or booking origin, all university travellers now have access to the necessary risk management advice and counselling. This helps travellers weigh the risks of the trip and enables the university to meet its obligations under the expanded industrial manslaughter regulations.

Centralised data tracking

Aggregated financial records. Locomote gives the university greater visibility of its overall travel spend and more accurate reporting. This data is essential for preparing internal reports, but it can also be used to negotiate new discount agreements with suppliers.

Carbon foot print tracking. The university uses Locomote's newtracking system to monitor air miles. As a signatory to the UN's sustainable development goals, this feature is a valuable add-on that helps the university reduce its environmental impact and meet its commitment.

Discounted travel and accommodation rates

Extended access to travel discounts. Students at the university now have access to discounted rates that were not previously available. This helps them save money directly but also helps the university as it centralises expense tracking.

Consolidated access to hotel discounts. Travellers can now access a range of discounted hotel rates, including those negotiated by the university, the federal government and through online agencies like Expedia. This leads to direct savings for both university-fundedand self-funded travellers.

What were the challenges with Murdoch University's previous travel program?

Murdoch University needed to overcome several challenges in its travel program, as detailed in the following table.

Organisational context

About Murdoch University

Murdoch University opened its doors in 1973 as Western Australia’s second university and accepted its first students in 1975. It was named after Sir Walter Murdoch, an eminent Australian scholar and essayist.

Through its distinguished faculty,cutting-edge curriculum and pioneering research, Murdoch University has becomea hub for education and discovery.

As an early adopter of new technologies inthe higher education sector, it is in a prime position to share its experienceswith other institutions embarking on similar transformation programs.

To find out more about Murdoch’s Travel Transformation Project, contact:

About Locomote

Locomote offers a user-friendly, efficientand cost-effective business travel booking platform. We use cutting-edgetechnology to streamline business travel processes.

Our comprehensive product combines anonline booking system with the option to plan more complicated trips directlywith experienced travel consultants, all while keeping everything in one place.

We offer clients a streamlined management process with a single point of contact and prompt, reliable service.

To find out more about how Locomote can help transform your travel program, contact:

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