Trip Planning Made Easy with Einstein’s Travel Portal and Online Resources
On any given day, dozens of faculty, staff and students at Einstein make travel arrangements to attend a professional conference, participate in global health programs or host out-of-town job applicants or other visitors. Last year, nearly 700 professional or educational trips were taken by members of the Einstein community. To make booking of such travel plans easier, Einstein offers several online resources to streamline bookings; provide institutional discounts for professional and personal trips; and alert travelers to potential and unfolding hazards.
Members of the Einstein community book hundreds of trips during the year, by plane, train, bus and automobile.
The Egencia® Travel Portal was introduced in 2014, but its use became mandatory in April 2016. “Before the travel portal, bookings were completed directly with airlines and hotels, on travel sites or through travel agents,” said Daniel Zambo, purchasing manager at Einstein. “It was a free-for-all, and we could not develop a travel program.”
Jack ZencheckMr. Zambo’s boss Jack Zencheck, associate vice president of business services, recalled being contacted by a sales representative from American Airlines offering discounts on frequently traveled routes. “I didn’t know where our people frequently traveled, which vendors they used or the amount spent. Now, using the reporting tools on the Egencia platform, I can access the data to negotiate better packages for our travelers from airlines, hotels and car rental companies,” he said.
First-time users create a profile on Egencia that includes preferences such as airport, seating location and special dietary needs. Frequent flier and hotel loyalty account numbers also can be recorded.
A helpful personalization feature allows more frequent travelers to save a specific flight taken regularly—for instance, Jet Blue Flight 15 to San Francisco—and adjust the departure date for each booking. As an added convenience, one can charge tickets and accommodations to a “ghost” credit card within the system, instead of using a personal credit card that requires waiting for reimbursement.
Each department has a guest account for conference speakers and job candidates traveling to Einstein, as well as for family travel. Guest profiles can be set up on Egencia, but a personal credit card must be used to pay for tickets purchased for family members.
Daniel Zambo In addition to these useful features, there’s another compelling reason to book travel through Egencia: Each booking includes funding source(s) against which travel expenses are charged, and the cost savings enable researchers to stretch grant dollars.
“Grant money is not our money, and I have a fiduciary responsibility to the federal government to spend it wisely,” explained Mr. Zencheck. “Lower administrative costs put more of the grant funds toward research.”
Never Far From Help
For the faculty and students—over 100 in all—who travel abroad each year, Einstein’s Global Health Center (GHC) provides a handy checklist to help with their international travel preparations. The information includes tips on a variety of topics, including vaccinations, passport and visa requirements, and protecting and securing Einstein-owned data.
The GHC also offers a Global Assistance Program via International SOS (I-SOS), an insurance program that covers emergency evacuation and provides round-the-clock assistance with medical, security and logistical issues. The College of Medicine picks up the tab for covering the Einstein community—including staff, students or faculty who will be traveling abroad.
Jill Raufman “Enrolling in I-SOS is required for students applying for a global health fellowship so we can track where they are,” said Jill Raufman, director of Medical Student Global Health Programs. She especially appreciates the check-in feature on the mobile app. “I ask my students to check in every couple of days. All they need to do is push a button, and I can see where they are on my map.”
She added, “When we first offered this service, members of the Einstein community registered using the Yeshiva University portal. Einstein now has its own portal and anyone who previously registered through YU should make sure to re-register on the Einstein portal.”
I-SOS offers general travel advice on medical issues (avoiding altitude illness or deep vein thrombosis); safety (crime, dust storms); and food safety. In addition, there are personal safety tips specific to women traveling alone.
Signing up with I-SOS is optional for faculty and staff, but Ms. Raufman recommends it because you can sign up for itinerary-specific e-mail and text alerts about hurricanes, terrorist activity and other unfolding events.
“I was vacationing in Chile and I received helpful information about flooding in the Andes Mountains that had led to other tourists getting trapped,” noted a staff member who heeded Ms. Raufman’s advice to sign up. “I knew not to plan a trip there, which could have been dangerous at the time. I also got updates about areas where Zika virus was a concern.”
Among the program’s services, I-SOS assistance centers in Philadelphia, London and Singapore provide emergency help with medical evacuation, return home of minor children, legal referrals, interpreters and personal cash advances.
Faculty, staff and students also can use the travel procurement site to book car service to local airports provided by Vital Transportation, to arrange long-term parking at JFK and Newark airports from The Parking Spot and to determine the availability and rates at parking garages in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and other U.S. cities via Parking Panda.
Some travel-related discounts are even available to colleagues at other institutions, as well as to prospective students, visiting parents, alumni and guest speakers thanks to Einstein’s participation in a co-op of 50 colleges and universities that book local hotel rooms through Campus Travel Management. The co-op shares cost-savings from specially negotiated rates when members of its academic communities travel to any of the affiliated institutions.
Participating hotels for visitors to Einstein currently include: Aloft Harlem; the Hotel Wales New York City; the Marriott Residence Inn Bronx, New York at the Hutchinson Metro Center; and Radisson Hotel New Rochelle.
For questions about travel services or registering with Egencia, please contact Daniel Zambo. And to learn more about use of I-SOS, please contact Jill Raufman.
Posted on: Friday, April 14, 2017