Travel & International Support (GEOTRAVEL)

Introduction

GEOTRAVEL works with all academic departments within the college on travel needs, including the review of travel requests and expense reports. Email travel@geos.tamu.edu with any questions.

Contact Information

Emails and Calls

For general questions, email GEOTRAVEL. We will make every attempt to respond to inquiries within 24 hours. If a request/question is urgent, use the High Importance flag on your email.

If a request/question is urgent, you can also call (979) 845-7141 (the GEOTRAVEL main line). GEOS Business Staff Contacts

If receiving screen shots would be helpful, you can also instant message any member of GEOTRAVEL on Slack. See the link for instructions on installing Slack – https://goweb.tamu.edu/get-involved/slack/

Assistance with University Liability Travel Card

For after-hours assistance with your university liability travel card, you must call Citibank using the number on the back of the card. See University Liability Travel Cards for more information.

Concur and Corporate Travel Planners (CTP)

Concur is the module used by The Texas A&M University System for all aspects of travel — authorization, booking and expenses. Employees access the system through Single Sign On.

Integrated within Concur is an online travel booking system powered through CTP for airline, hotel and car rental reservations for complex reservations or reservations for groups. Regardless of how the reservations are made, when you use CTP, the reservation is fed directly into the traveler’s Concur profile.

The online booking fees (booked through Concur) remain largely the same. Changes were made to the full service, and after hour fees and can be found at CTP Price List online.

Concur Training

Concur Online Training

Concur training is available online through video snippets and other web resources:

Concur Classroom Training

Concur classroom training information is available in TrainTraq through SSO. Contact your Department Business Administrator (DBA) for more information on classroom training.

Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps for your smart phone

  • GSA Rates: This app allows travelers to look up Federal government maximum daily allowable rates by city/state and ZIP code in locations throughout the United States and its territories.

  • TripIt: Keeps all your travel plans in one place. Provides updates for gate changes, cancellations, delays, etc.

  • Concur: Keeps track of Travel Requests/Approvals and your expenses and helps the traveler stay productive anytime – from anywhere. ExpenseIt has now been built into the Concur App.

Setting Up a Traveler Profile in Concur & Adding Delegates

See the step-by-step instructions for Setting Up a Concur Profile Guide.

See the step-by-step instructions for Adding Delegates to Your CONCUR Profile

See the step-by-step instructions for Setting Up Email Preferences in Concur

University Liability Travel Cards

It is a privilege that employees are eligible to apply for a university liability travel card. Transactions from these cards feed directly into the traveler’s Concur account for easy uploading to the expense report.

A travel card should also be requested for department employees who make reservations and pay expenses for visitors, speakers, prospective employees, non-employee students or graduate students within the department.

Travelers are encouraged but not required to use the university travel card. Personal credit cards may be used, and some people prefer them because they earn miles, points or cash back from their cards. This is perfectly acceptable.

Application

To apply for a university liability travel card, complete the University/Agency Travel Card Application and Agreement Form and submit it to your DBA.

If the employee is transferring from another Texas A&M department, the travel card can be transferred to the new department. It is not necessary to request a new card. Contact DBA to make sure the card is transferred.

If the card is for the department head, the application must be signed by the department head’s supervisor.

In most cases, cards will maintain a zero credit limit until a limit is requested, along with an approved pre-trip authorization request. If you feel a permanent limit needs to be established on the card, contact DBA to discuss your needs.

Guidelines

The following general guidelines apply to the university liability travel card:

  • No personal charges are allowed on the card.

  • Receipts are required for individual travel meals costing $75 or more.

  • Receipts are required for all business meals regardless of cost.

  • Transactions must be reviewed and attached to a travel expense report within 30 days of the charge and submitted within 30 days of trip end date.

  • Unlike employee travel, all receipts are required for student travel expenses including meals.

The Travel Receipts Requirements has more details.

The Travel Expense Checklist - Local Funds has more details.

The Travel Expense Checklist - State Funds has more details.

The Travel Card Checklist has more details.

When You Get the Card

Once you receive the card, follow these steps:

  1. Activate the card immediately by calling the Citibank customer service number on the back of the card. The four-digit activation code is the last four digits of the cardholder’s UIN.

  2. Add the card to your Concur profile.

DART Travel Card

DART Travel Card is intended to be issued to students or invited guests for the procurement of all travel related expenses. The DART Travel Card may be issued to employees in certain circumstances.

Applying for the DART Travel Card must be requested through your DBA. Applications are processed within 48 hours of receipt. Cards will be mailed to the departmental card administrator for distribution to the cardholders. FMO/FMS will notify the departmental card administrator by email when the cards are mailed.

Cardholder Responsibilities

• The cardholder is responsible for the security of the card at all times.
• Departments may opt to maintain the cards in a central location to be distributed at time of travel.
• At end of travel departments may require the card be returned to a central location.
• Only business related travel expenses are allowed. NO PERSONAL EXPENSES may be charged to the travel card.

Card Usage

The DART Travel card may be used for Airfare, Hotel, Car Rental, Restaurants, Parking and Incidental expenses. When the DART Travel card is used by non-employees or is used for a working fund all receipts are required.

http://fmo.tamu.edu/accounts-payable/payment-travel-cards/dart-travel-card/

Unlike employee travel, all receipts are required for student travel expenses including meals.

Cash Advances

Because of the availability of the university liability travel card, cash advances will not be issued for domestic trips. You should have minimal out-of-pocket expense. If you feel an exception should be made, contact your department Business Administrator to discuss the reason for the need and why other options will not satisfy your needs. If a travel advance is issued, it will be on a case-by-case basis and will not set a precedent for future advances.

After-Hours Assistance

For after-hours assistance with your university liability travel card, you must call Citibank using the number on the back of the card. The traveler should be prepared to answer security questions such as the mail stop or the last 4 digits of their employee ID number.

If you are traveling and having problems with your card, Citibank will provide a temporary increase to allow for meals, hotel and airfare (in-country) if necessary. Citibank has assured us that travelers will not be stranded; however, the traveler will still need to contact TIS the next business day so we can follow up and ensure the temporary increase is sufficient and is sustained through the end of the trip.

If the cardholder is not traveling (e.g., at home wanting to book an airline ticket), Citibank will not increase the limit. Contact DBA to increase the card limit during normal business hours.

Travel Requests

Travel Requests are managed electronically within the Concur system. A Travel Request is required for all employees (including undergraduate and graduate student employees) leaving the local area (Brazos County or other headquarters location), regardless of costs incurred.

In order to figure out what expenses are allowable for your upcoming trip, you will need to find out what type of funds you will be using to pay for the travel (Local, State or Federal/Grant money).

Completing Travel Requests

Refer to the Domestic and Foreign videos for step-by-step instructions on how to complete the Travel Request and examples of acceptable business purpose and benefit.

DBA will review Travel Requests for completeness and proper routing before all approvals are completed. If any adjustments need to be made to the content of the request, DBA will return the Travel Request to the traveler for modification.

If your Travel Request is returned for modification, an email notification will be sent to the traveler, and comments will be noted toward the bottom of the email explaining the reason for the return.

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Travel Request Routing for Approval

Travel Requests route along the approval path requested by the department.

There is one routing path to accommodate both domestic and foreign travel, but foreign travel must be approved at the department head/dean level. The current routing is established to accommodate the most frequent type of travel within the department. If adjustments need to be made to ensure proper approval of foreign travel, DBA will determine if modifications need to be made to the routing path and route to appropriate approvers.

You will receive an email from Concur each time your Travel Request moves along the approval chain. The email that indicates final approval will say, “Changed by Concur system” and “Approval status changed to APPROVED.”

Travel on Behalf Of

If an employee (including undergraduate or graduate student employee) of another department is traveling on behalf of your department using your department account number:

  • The traveler’s Travel Request must be submitted through his or her Concur profile and will route through his or her chain of command.

  • Comments should clearly explain the name of the person authorizing travel and the reason for using these departmental funds.

  • The guest function should not be used to submit Travel Requests for employees of any of the A&M System parts using Concur.

If an employee (including undergraduate or graduate student employee) of your department is traveling on behalf of another department using that department’s funds:

  • The traveler should request an email authorization from the funding department approving the estimated expense and authorizing the availability of funds for said trip.

  • The traveler should attach this approval to the Travel Request.

If an employee pays for travel expenses on behalf of another employee, please include the following statement for approval that (Name of person that paid) paid for (expense and amount) on your behalf and should be reimbursed for the expenses from account(XXXXXX-XXXXX). The following certification statement is also required:

I certify that these expenses are true, correct, and unpaid to the best of my knowledge. I further certify that these expenses were incurred in the course of conducting official business, research, or other sponsored activities, and that these expenses are properly chargeable to the account(s) listed. I further certify that no alcohol was purchased in association with meals being expensed, or if there was, a receipt has been provided, the expenses marked appropriately and the business purpose of the alcohol has been documented in the comments or purpose field.

For non-employees, contact your DBA.

Travel Arrangements for Employees

In order to figure out what expenses are allowable for your upcoming trip, you will need to find out what type of funds you will be using to pay for the travel (Local, State or Federal/Grant money).

Travel reservations may be made once the Travel Request has completed all approval steps. Contact DBA to make sure your university liability credit card is increased to cover the arrangements.

The traveler and/or his or her designated travel assistant (as set up in the traveler’s Concur profile) will make travel reservations through Concur. GEOTRAVEL can provide advice on complex travel arrangements, but completion of the booking process is made within the department.

Rules

According to Texas Government Code Section 660.007, “A state agency shall minimize the amount of travel expenses paid or reimbursed by the agency. The agency shall ensure that each travel arrangement is the most cost effective considering all relevant circumstances.”

Travel arrangements should be made in compliance with the following rules:

Reservations

Travel Reservations

Most domestic travel reservations can be made through the online booking tool in Concur. Corporate Travel Planners (CTP) is the state-contracted travel agent behind the scenes handling bookings through this system. You can find the agency fees for CTP online.

If you find a lower price for airfare, hotel, or rental car through a website or a travel agent, or if your department has negotiated a permanent special rate with a particular vendor, contact DBA for special travel arrangements.

Other notes when booking through CTP/Concur are as follows:

  • Airfare: Airfare is charged to the travel card immediately upon booking. Non-refundable airfare tickets are subject to change fees imposed by the airline and a change fee charged by the travel agent. The agent fee increases if you call or email CTP directly.

  • Hotel: Hotel bookings are generally only guaranteed with the card, but hotels charge a deposit (which is charged immediately upon booking) and have strict cancellation deadlines. Reminder: Be sure to present Hotel Occupancy Tax exempt form upon check-in if traveling in Texas.

  • Rental car: Bookings are generally only guaranteed with the travel card. Reminder: Be sure to present the Motor Vehicle Rental Tax exempt form when picking up rental car if traveling in Texas.

Professional Conference Reservations

If a conference is away from the employee’s headquarters and other travel expenses will be incurred, the registration fee should be paid with the employee travel card. If a conference is within the employee’s headquarters, and no travel expenses will be incurred, the fee should be paid with either the departmental or individual payment card, or through Buy A&M. Note: Registration expenses on personal credit cards cannot be reimbursed until after the conference takes place.

Hotel rates negotiated by the conference may be lower than the rate available through CTP. Once employees have verified the rate is less than the CTP rate, they may use their university travel card to secure conference hotel reservations directly with the hotel.

Paying for Expenses During the Trip

Travelers will pay for reservations and expenses incurred during the trip with their university travel card or out of pocket if the traveler chooses not to use the card. Travel expenses may not be direct-billed to the department.

As a state agency, Texas A&M is exempt from the following taxes in Texas. The appropriate forms must be presented to the vendor.

Cost Comparisons

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts recently implemented the Rental Car vs. Mileage Reimbursement Calculator that helps employees make informed and fiscally sound decisions regarding vehicle travel when conducting state business. This resource is available in the right feature column of Textravel (FPP G.005). The electronic tool considers a combination of factors and performs a cost comparison between renting a vehicle and receiving reimbursement for using a personal vehicle in business travel. To conserve state funds, travelers should consider all relevant circumstances and use this new resource to determine the best transportation option. The Rental Car vs. Mileage Calculator is required to be attached on reports using state funds when claiming personal mileage.

Processing an Expense Report

Initiating an Expense Report

The traveler and/or delegate will initiate the expense report through Concur. Expense reports should be submitted within 30 days of the end of travel. Instructions for completing the expense report can be found on the Concur Travel and Expense Training Site.

It may take up to a week for all university travel card charges to feed into Concur. Do not submit your expense report until all charges have fed into Concur and can be pulled into the expense report. Your account will be charged for each additional expense report (currently $5.43 per report).

Very rarely will any of our employees list a “Company Paid” item. Travelers must certify their expenses in Concur and submit the report for approval from the Concur mobile app or the website. A delegate cannot perform this function.

Processing

Expense Reports route to a GEOTRAVEL staff member for review and then to the GEOTRAVEL associate director for final approval. Travel on grant accounts will route through the Sponsored Research Services office to ensure expenses meet the grant requirements.

Approvers may add notes to reports and are able to make some changes. However, the system does limit the changes that an approver can make. Every attempt will be made to avoid returning the expense report to the traveler or delegate for correction.

If unavoidable, the report will be returned to the employee (or delegate) for modification and resubmission. A delegate can also receive an email notification to modify the report (this depends on the delegate’s email settings), but the employee will have to resubmit once the correction(s) have been made.

After GEOTRAVEL approval, the expense report routes to FMO for review and payment. It is likely that FMO staff will contact the employee directly if they have a question or need modification on the expense report. If you have any concerns about questions you receive from FMO or feel the information you received from them would be helpful for future travelers, please let us know. We want to help and make this process as easy as possible for all.

90-Day Policy

Submission of expense report within 90 days of travel end date:

  • Best practice is to submit within 30 days

  • Applies to out of pocket and travel card transactions

  • If not submitted within 90 days of travel end date:

    • Travel card immediately suspended until expense report is submitted and approved

    • Expenses become tax reportable income to the employee and a tax withholding form must be attached to the expense report

Unassigned travel card transactions assigned to an expense report within 90 days of post date:

  • Documents travel end date, which allows for aging/tracking of expenses

  • Best practice is to assign transactions within 30 days

  • After 60 days lose dispute rights with the bank

  • If not assigned within 90 days of post date:

    • Travel card immediately suspended until transactions are assigned to an expense report and the travel end date can be evaluated.

    • If the travel end date is less than 90 days, the card suspension will be removed.

    • If travel end date is older than 90 days, the expenses become tax reportable income to the employee and card will remain suspended until expense report is submitted and approved.

Third Strike Rule - for cards suspended for the third time:

  • Travel Card will be suspended for one year with notification of card suspension sent to traveler, department head, assistant dean and dean/VP.

  • No travel advances will be made available to the employee during this time period.

  • Any time a travel card is suspended, Dean’s approval is required to reinstate the card.

Report Status

Travel on grant accounts will route through the Sponsored Research Services office, instead of Geosciences, to ensure expenses meet the requirements.

Priority is given to those that create their own travel expense report. Travelers can see the status of their report in Concur by selecting “Expense” and then “View Reports.” If FMO has not

processed your expense report within 2 weeks of leaving the GEOTRAVEL approvers, let GEOTRAVEL know and we will follow up.

When it is in GEOTRAVEL approvers boxes it will say “Pending Cost Object Approval”. When it has gone to FMO, it will say “Approved & In Accounting Review”.

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You can speed things up by:

  • Signing up for direct deposit of reimbursements through HR Connect. Be aware that direct deposit for payroll does not mean you are automatically set up for direct deposit of accounting reimbursements. Verify your account information at HR Connect if you have any doubt or change in account information.

  • Providing explanations for any receipts that could appear out of the ordinary or are in a foreign language.

Group Travel or Other Special Circumstances

For assistance with group travel arrangements or other special circumstances, contact your DBA.

State Travel Funds Checklist

Research Foundation Travel

SRS Travel

TEES Travel – Effective 9/1/15, TEES travel will be processed in the Concur system