September 2000

Travel: Office move, a new provider, and an effort to streamline process

ORNL has a new travel services provider. Meanwhile, the Travel office is heading west.

Travel Management Partners took over the Lab’s travel reservation service on September 1. TMP serves more than 112 operations in 32 states, managing air travel budgets totaling more than $250 million annually. The company has served the Battelle Memorial Institute since 1991 (the agreement was renewed this year), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory since December 1994.

Despite TMP’s history of business with Battelle, Chief Finance Officer Greg Turner says ORNL chose the company only after an intense round of benchmarking and price comparisons. “They came out on top,” he says.

ORNL’s Travel Reservations office is relocating to Building 1062, on the west end of the Laboratory, effective September 5. Phone numbers stay the same except for the after-hours emergency number. Effective September 1 at 5 p.m., travelers can call (865) 241-9872 (241-XTRA) and be connected with TMP’s after-hours desk.

The move puts Travel Reservations adjacent to Travel Settlement for a more cohesive management arrangement. “With the emphasis on e-tickets, electronic itineraries and no cash advances, it is no longer mandatory for the majority of travelers to pick up their packages in Travel,” says Travel Manager Kathie Shearer.

“E-tickets are the way to go,” says Kathie. “It’s often no longer necessary to pick up, and keep up with, an airline ticket; you simply designate your ticket for pickup at the airport.”

Travelers’ fears of electronic reservations usually disintegrate after the first trip with an e-ticket. But there are some things to be remembered.

“Travelers need to remember to always obtain a print-out of the ticket receipt from the airline,” Kathie says. “Any airline ticket agent can do this for you at any time during your trip. It’s required for travel settlement.”

With flight cancellations in the news and the air travel industry running at or near capacity, Kathie also urges travelers to reconfirm their flights before leaving for the airport. Airlines will accept contact phone numbers to advise ticketed travelers of cancellations, delays or schedule changes.

“We list the traveler’s home phone and work phone in the record if the traveler has provided that information to us in their profile. It is a good idea for the traveler to provide a business contact at the business location when calling to reconfirm flights. It also is a good idea to re-confirm flights on the return trip as well, and to bring a print-out of your itinerary with you to the airport,” Kathy says.

Finally, in an effort to simplify and expedite the travel process, a travel caucus or focus group is being initiated to review the myriad business rules associated with travel. Travelers, especially those who frequently tote suitcases, often question the necessity of receipts, GSA rates and a host of other concerns. Kathie says these topics will be addressed and processes simplified and streamlined where possible.—B.C.


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