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Travel Planning Procedure

Category Administration and Management
Type Procedure
Approved by Vice Chancellor's Advisory Group
Date Procedure Took Effect 16 April 2002
Last Approved Revision 31 July 2020
Sponsor Chief Financial Officer
Responsible Officer Procurement Manager
Review Date 21 October 2024


The Vice-Chancellors Advisory Group (VCAG) has agreed on a range of initiatives to address the financial impact of COVID-19, including changes to streamline the travel bookings process, beginning 6 November 2020. This Policy/Procedure should be read in conjunction with the memo issued by the Chief Financial Officer.

To set out the University’s expected procurement methods for travel.

Organisational Scope

These procedures apply to all staff, students and Council members of the University of Otago and all staff in controlled entities where they are travelling at the cost of the University of Otago or its controlled entities, and all other bookings made by the University of Otago.


All of Government Agreement
Approved Supplier
University appointed supplier
Australia/Pacific Travel
Travel to Australia or South Pacific Islands (excludes Hawaii)
University appointed Mandatory Travel Agent
Off-line bookings
Travel bookings made via the MTA without using the respective MTA online booking tool. i.e., in person, via email or telephone.
On-line Bookings
Air Travel bookings initiated via the respective MTA web based booking service.  MTA online booking tools can be used for Domestic Travel and Australia/Pacific Travel.
Travel and Conference Approval Form
University approved form to be used for requesting travel and conference approval, stored within OURDrive.
University Representative
Staff, students, Council members of the University of Otago and its controlled entities as well as any other persons travelling at the expense of the University and controlled entities of the University.


1. Travel Risk

As detailed in the Insurance Procedure, the University of Otago has subscribed to an international security and medical alert advisory service, Healix Travel Oracle. Travellers are strongly encouraged to install the Healix Travel Oracle App and select and read Healix Travel information associated with the countries they are planning to travel to (refer to the Guide to Travel Oracle Mobile App V4 (PDF)).

(a) All domestic and international travel purchased through the MTA is loaded into the University’s Travel Tracker programme (Healix) which allows the University and its insurers to know where staff or other University representatives are in the event of an emergency.

2. Staff Travel Approvals

(a) Before booking travel, staff should ensure that they request approval using the Travel and Conference Approval Form, where this has been implemented within their respective division.

(b) Where the Travel and Conference Approval Form has not been implemented, approval is to be provided by email and attached to the purchasing request smart form.

(c) Once travel is approved the traveller (or their administrator) should raise a request for a purchase order via the existing purchasing request smart form.

3. Booking Air Travel

(a) Staff should ensure they book air travel via the most economical method (in line with current policy requirements) in order to minimise the overall cost of travel to the University.

(b) All air travel should be booked through the MTA.

(c) All bookings made through a MTA must be made using a University Purchase Order (for all off-line bookings) and by including the appropriate GL/PL account code in any on-line bookings.

4. Booking Land Travel

(a) Land travel (including connections) may be booked as follows:
         a. Domestic via an MTA (preferably as part of any airfare booking process where combined with air travel).
         b. International via an MTA.
 When using an MTA, bookings should be made at the same time as any associated flight bookings to avoid additional MTA fees.

(b) Rental car bookings (not being made in conjunction with air bookings) can be booked using the University’s approved supplier(s) in the first instance, using either the supplier’s web reservation system (with payment made via the travellers’ P-Card) or via the University’s MTA (which can be charged back to the University via the MTA’s consolidated invoice). Rental car bookings required in conjunction with air travel bookings should be booked via the MTA at the same time as the respective flight bookings.

(c) No direct bookings (quoting a University Purchase order) for rental cars are to be made that would be directly invoiced back to the University.

(d) Where the approved supplier is unable to meet the booking requirement, the next most cost effective supplier should be used.

(e) When hiring a rental car, staff or other University representatives should not select the pre-paid fuel tank option as there is no credit applied for any un-used fuel remaining in the vehicle at the end of the hire period. To avoid a refuelling service charge, including higher fuel cost, staff or other University representatives should ensure the rental car fuel tank is full before returning it to the car rental company.

(f) For all other land travel, including road or rail, staff should use the best available pricing on the day.

5. Booking Accommodation

(a) Accommodation may be booked (in order of preference):

     i. using an MTA (as part of an overall travel booking for Domestic and International Travel;
     ii. online using a reservation system for domestic travel only.

(b) All ‘Airbnb for work’ bookings must be made through the MTA. To initiate an AirBnB for work booking:

     i. Go to;
     ii. Enter your ‘’ email address and follow the prompts to register with the University of Otago Air BnB Account;
     iii. Search for properties that are suitable for your needs;
     iv. Email the link for the property to your University Travel Agent to book the property on your behalf and add it to your travel itinerary.

(c) For locations where ‘Airbnb for work’ property options are not available, non-‘Airbnb for work’ properties may only be used on the specific prior approval of the University Health and Safety Compliance Officer on a case-by-case basis. A copy of this approval will be required to be provided to the Travel agent to enable them to make the booking.

6. Arranging Travel during period of RSL

(a) It is recognised that where staff are on extended periods of RSL, it is often impractical to efficiently book incidental intra-continental travel via the MTA. Staff on RSL are free to book (and use their P_Card for payment for) short-term/internal travel associated with their RSL provided:

   i. The staff member has downloaded the Oracle Travel App (PDF) and has “watchlisted” the countries they are intending to travel to.
   ii. The requirement for this ancillary travel was not identified/required at the time the initial RSL travel bookings were made with the University Travel Agent.

7. Associated Private Travel

(a) Where private travel is undertaken in conjunction with University business travel, or where family members or other non-business associates accompany staff members or University representatives on University business, the private part of the air travel and/or accommodation must be disclosed at the time the reservation is made and will be charged separately by the MTA. Private travel at discounted rates is not offered by all the airlines under the AoG agreement. Staff members or other University representatives should check with the MTAs prior to making a booking.

(b) Private travel or related costs are not to be charged to the University. This includes the charging of private travel costs to the University which is subsequently reimbursed by the staff member other University representatives. Any variation to this instruction requires the prior approval of the Chief Financial Officer.

(c) Travel on Air New Zealand for any private travel cannot be booked using the Airline’s Direct Connect Portal (DCP) application.

8. Insurance

(a) All persons travelling internationally (including Australia and the Pacific Islands) on University business must have approved travel insurance. See the Insurance Procedure for more information.

(b) For vehicle rentals within New Zealand, staff or other University representatives are to decline the rental agency’s insurance cover when hiring vehicles for Otago University business purposes. The University maintains insurance policies that provide coverage for the hire of rental vehicles used for University business purposes within New Zealand.

(c) Where a vehicle is hired outside New Zealand, staff or other University representatives must purchase comprehensive vehicle insurance from the rental agency. As not all hire contracts are structured the same, the staff member or other University representative must ask the rental agency to confirm that the insurance includes vehicle damage, third party, and public liability cover. Staff or University representatives should not pay an increased premium to secure an excess below NZ$6,000 (the University travel insurance policy will cover an excess up to this amount).

(d) Any questions regarding travel or vehicle insurance should be directed to the Assistant Accountant – Assets & Insurance, Financial Services Division.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy, procedure or guideline or need further clarification, contact the Manager Procurement.