New travel procedures should ease the process

By Michael Neal, Interim Vice President for Finance and Administration

Southwest, I have wonderful news!  We have overhauled our travel procedures.  The policy remains unchanged; however, how approved travel is booked has.  The changes were effective March 4 and many of you may already be experiencing our new, streamlined procedures that I hope are reducing your processing time and improving Finance and Administration’s customer service level. 

The College has typically booked approved air travel through Travelennium, a woman-owned, small business with which we were proud to partner. I am pleased to report that we are expanding this level of service to encompass ground transportation (car and charter bus) and hotel accommodations. This means booking your approved travel will be as easy as 1-2-3, especially as it relates to conference travel. 

The 3-step process is as follows:

  1. Gain the customary and appropriate approvals for your travel per our current policy and procedures and submit to the Purchasing Office (Purchasing).
  2. Receive your travel authorization number (TA#) from Purchasing that covers all approved and applicable travel (air, ground, hotel and conference fees).
  3. Contact Valerie Wince at Travelennium at (901) 678-3321 or and provide her your TA#.

Travelennium will book your travel and pay the fees, including your approved conference fees.  You will no longer need to use your personal credit card to secure hotel accommodations and checks will no longer be sent to hotels. Users may still need to provide a credit card upon check-in at the hotel for incidentals.  GSA hotel rates will still apply.  If more than one individual in your department is staying at a hotel, please notify Travelennium so the travel is booked as a group. This will help the College negotiate a better rate.

Regarding car rentals, at this time, Travelennium can only book the rental. Once you arrive at your destination to retrieve the rental, you must pay the rental fees and the College will reimburse your expense per current policies and procedures. Please know that we are researching a solution to this, as well.

Regarding charter bus rentals, employees should schedule bus trips and begin travel processing as soon as possible, indicating the type of trip, size of the bus needed, the number of students expected to travel on the bus and any WiFi requirements. Travelennium will contract with local vendors to ensure bus trips are reserved and on schedule. Beginning July 1, 2019, all charter bus travel schedules for the fiscal year should be submitted to Purchasing by July 31 (exceptions may be made for athletic events that typically finalize schedules later in the calendar year).

Finally, the College often hosts visitors from other institutions and accrediting bodies. I am pleased to inform you that Travelennium also will handle hotel accommodations for college visitors.  Simply acquire the appropriate authorization, TA# and contact Travelennium and provide the number. They will book and pay for the hotel. This applies to hotel accommodations only.

A word of advice: please be sure you have attained the appropriate approvals according to policy and that your travel plans (especially conference travel) are complete and finalized before you book the travel with Travelennium. This will ensure a smooth process that is expedited for you and financially beneficial for the College.

We in Finance and Administration are committed to continuous improvement regarding our processes. I hope you find these new procedures helpful. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at (901) 333-4978.