Connexxus Travel Program

Case study

Background

The University of California spends approximately $200 million
each year on travel and travel‐related expenses. Historically,
there had been little effort to organize a managed travel
program to leverage the University’s volume, enter into system
contracts with travel suppliers, and recognize savings across
the UC system. However, in 2006, at the request of the
Regents, the Office of the President (UCOP) initiated a study of
travel spend. Internal analysis showed that approximately
$130 million of the University’s annual spend could be
procured under negotiated contracts.

 

Goal

UCOP aims to identify, procure, and manage an efficient,
cost effective, and comprehensive travel program across all UC
locations. The program will feature supplier contracts that
contain industry‐leading terms and conditions coupled with
high utilization rates for sourceable commodities such as
agencies, rental cars, hotels, and airfare. In addition, the
program will focus on ease‐of‐use for the traveler, including a
single travel portal and online booking tools.

 

Successes

In 2007, a Travel Management Council made up of
representatives from all UC locations was created to seek
input, advice, and approval for all recommendations related
to the development, implementation, and ongoing management
of the Connexxus program. Contracts have been negotiated
with agencies, airlines, rental car companies, and national
hotel chains. A single portal has been developed and activated
for all UC locations.Training programs focusing on education
and promotion have been developed and implemented. A Central
Travel Management office has been implemented to coordinate the
activities of the Travel Management Council and to assist
locations with implementation. A central data‐management
system was implemented to monitor travel volume for use in
negotiating deeper discounts with providers in the future.
Connexxus completed and fully implemented across all campuses.

 

Challenges

Resistance to change has been the primary challenge. Travel
at UC has historically been viewed as extremely personal with
individual needs or preferences. Changing this perspective will
take time in order to drive up utilization, which is currently at
35%. Developing a single travel management program with
enough variety to satisfy a broad spectrum of traveler needs,
while concentrating volume to achieve discounts, has been
challenging.

 

Initial investment

An investment of approximately $1 million over three years
(2007‐2010) was made from UCOP financial management to
seed the development and implementation of Connexxus.

 

Fiscal results, current and anticipated

After full implementation, an analysis over a recent period
of time with only 35% utilization has shown annual savings to
UC of approximately $6.6 million. We anticipate that after three
years and 80% utilization at all locations,
UC could save up to $16 million annually.

 

Current action and next steps

Managing rogue spend and increasing utilization of
the negotiated contracts is necessary to retain current
discounts and negotiate more favorable pricing in the future.
Due to the success of the program in a relatively short
period of time, the California State University System
has requested to participate in Connexxus. A program to
implement all CSU locations, along with the Chancellor’s Office,
is underway. Also, the National Nuclear Security Administration,
as well as the participating Department of Energy Laboratories,
will be further extending their utilization of
the Connexxus program.

Major efforts are in place to aggressively promote the program
and increase utilization in the next two years. In addition,
a meeting & events program and customer support help desk
will be added to the Connexxus program.

 

Concluding statement

Working together as a UC system to leverage volume and
manage a commodity such as travel has proven successful.
Although change is difficult, the Connexxus team at UCOP and
across the UC system has developed strategies and approaches
to help travelers achieve cost savings and improvements in
convenience and efficiency over time. The Connexxus program
is viewed by many in the travel industry as a leader in
providing a quality travel program across a very decentralized
and complex organization.