1 November 2022, London Marriott Hotel County Hall
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Britain's Advantage consortium is moving to ensure its independent agent members win more travel management contracts from the UK's higher education sector.Agents are missing out on lucrative deals with colleges and universities, the consortium's annual conference in Copenhagen heard this week.
A significant amount of travel for students and academics is still being arranged by non specialist buyers also responsible for ordering anything from stationery to toilet rolls.
John McEwan, Advantage's new managing director, said he would investigate whether the organisation could channel information on such contracts to members who could then tender for them.
When the value of contracts rise above a set level - just over £100,000 - higher education institutions must advertise tenders in the Official Journal of the European Union, Jeanette Harrison, Nottingham University's business travel purchasing advisor, told the conference. But she said many agents were unaware of the need to look there.
She said the sector spent some £190 millions a year on travel, including £66 million on flights, £73 million on accommodation and associated extras, £38 million on cars hire and mileage and £12 million on rail tickets. Her university alone spent £4.4 million.
"Agents have difficulty finding out about the business available. They also think the process of securing it is cumbersome and independents are concerned that the contracts may be too big for them to handle.
"But we need specialists and in return we can offer stable, long term relationships".
She told Business Travel Europe: "We organise a lot of field trips for students. Academics need to travel for research and to attend conferences. We need travel to be managed. I don't want my travellers going on to the internet and buying it. It would be totally uncontrollable spend.
"We have an overall travel insurance policy. If we didn't know where our people were going or how they were travelling the premium would go through the roof."