Complaints at the faculty are accumulating in connection with Anthony Travel’s travel systems, Concur | University Times

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By SUSAN JONES

Problems with the Anthony Travel and Concur systems continue to provoke passionate complaints from faculty and others.

Senate President Robin Kear asked for a contribution to Pitt’s travel policies at a faculty meeting on March 17, and said at the April meeting this week, “I hear you loud and clear.”

“My worries have increased with traveling and (because of) some of the things I’ve heard over the last month,” she said.

Exclusive use Anthony Travel was implemented as part of the COVID-19 guideline and efforts to modify these rules have been slow as pandemic constraints have eased.

“It was presented as part of a pandemic due to the need to monitor where our students are going when we started studying abroad again, as well as overseas faculties and all the different countries with corona rules and everything else,” said Chris Bonneau, who was a senator. “We have agreed on a temporary policy on this matter, which in my opinion has been abused since then, and that is why I am a little salty.”

According to him, meetings with people from the CFO’s office were not satisfactory. “I do not see how sustainable or acceptable this status quo is. … Based on what we’ve heard from the faculty, based on how it came about and everything else, this is nothing but a nightmare for everyone. “

The comments Kear received include general frustration with working with a travel agent, financial problems, and specific travel issues.

One person said they were stuck due to a flight delay, “and when I tried to get their help for rebooking (it was a weekend), they missed the action. No Answer. My husband’s law firm then helped me through their travel agency. “

Other complaints include:

  • Cancellations or other regroupings during the trip are challenging.

  • You forget to connect domestic and international flights.

  • Missing information about the final itinerary.

  • No notice from Anthony Travel when significant flight changes were made.

  • Too long to book flights. For example, one person stated that it took two days to book a flight that she could make in 15 minutes on the airline’s website.

  • Unnecessary expenses for mandatory travel fees from $ 10 to $ 25 with Anthony Travel; lack of basic economic flights offered; a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent on Pitt travel cards; baggage charges that could be avoided by personal airline credit cards and more.

  • Any savings claims are not transferred back to schools, units or individual faculties.

One complaint was that there were not enough travel agents for Pitt. At a separate meeting this week about booking blocks for conference rooms, Anthony Travel officials said they were adding an agent to handle Pitt travel, increasing the number from two to three.

Kear said that whenever she asked about these concerns, she was told they would be addressed when University travel, business entertainment, fees and various reimbursement policies (FN-28) is revised. A political committee has been appointed, including Pat Loughlin, a professor of bioengineering who sits on the faculty’s affairs committee; Anna Wang-Erickson, Professor of Pediatrics, who chairs the ad hoc addict care committee; and Bonneau.

Penny Morel, a professor at the Faculty of Medicine, asked if there was a way to simply abandon the policy and return to pre-pandemic travel rules. Kear said it would be her preference, but when she suggested it, she got resistance. “I’m still waiting for the reasons why it really makes sense, and I haven’t heard of them,” Kear said.

“In the past, we didn’t really need a travel agency,” said Abbe de Vallejo, an associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine. “It’s your choice if you want a travel agency, but forcing people to use a travel agency, I think it’s really an encroachment on our freedom.”

Tom Songer, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health, said that solving these travel problems was urgent, “because May and June are many research conferences. And what is most worrying is the cancellation and delay of the flight and the need to book. We can’t get through the summer season with the current plan. It’s just not good for our faculty. “

Other travel-related changes

In the last two weeks, the Office of Purchase, Pay & Travel has released several updates and new travel guidelines. However, the Office reiterated that COVID-19 standards and guidelines require that all university business trips paid by the university, regardless of the source of funding, must be booked through Concur or Anthony Travel.

“We realize that over the past month and a half, two months, we have seen that Anthony Travel’s volume has risen sharply with our reservations,” said Emily Duchene, Pitt’s Travel Program manager, when she announced that another agent would join the University of Pittsburgh / Anthony Travel. a team.

Search flights in Concur: Based on feedback from travelers about their flight search preferences, adjustments have been made to improve passenger bookings using the Concur online booking tool. With immediate effect, the default setting for all flight searches will change to show results sorted by flight schedule, not fare. Concur users can still choose Shop through Fares possibility.

Conference hotels: University travelers can book hotels that the conference organizer has designated as a preferred venue or block of rooms through the conference website. However, passengers are advised to double-check their prices via Anthony Travel or I agree online booking tool because conference rates are not always the best. We are working with the Office for Policy Development to complete clarifications regarding conference hotel reservations in COVID-19 standards and guidelines moving forward.

Reservation of room blocks: At the Lunch & Learn conference on April 12, Anthony Travel officials stated that if faculty or staff book 10 or more rooms for a conference at the local, national, or international level, or reserve a conference space, contractual negotiations should be handled by Anthony’s agents. . This process begins by contacting Anthony Travel and completing a hotel room reservation or meeting request form at the Panther Express Hotel.

“It’s not to stop you from having a hotel,” said Allison Jones of Anthony Travel. “It’s just for me to be the first person they communicate with, so I can guarantee we’re negotiating the right things and getting the best price for you.”

If you have any questions, please contact Purchase, payment and travel customer service.

Susan Jones is the editor of the University Times. Contact her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.

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