On 10 June, Umeå University's procured travel agent XLNT Travel filed for bankruptcy. As a result, the University can no longer use the booking services previously provided by the travel agent.
Deputy University Director Per Ragnarsson wishes to express his sympathy for XLNT Travel and its staff, while acknowledging that this outcome was not entirely unanticipated:
"Umeå University has the greatest sympathy for the bankruptcy. The last few months have been tremendously tough on the whole travel industry. As a client of XLNT Travel, Umeå University has always been pleased with this company and the quality of their services."
Issued tickets are still valid, vouchers must be examined
Airline tickets and other tickets that have been booked through XLNT Travel are still valid. University employees with vouchers issued by XLNT Travel need to contact the travel agent promptly in order to investigate whether the voucher is valid or void.
The XLNT Travel offices will reportedly be manned for two weeks. See sidebar for contact information.
Established routines require a procured travel agent
Umeå University's travel policy states that all business travels must be booked through a procured travel agent, and all payments must be made from a special travel account.
These principles are important for legal and procurement reasons, as well as cost oversight and the need to keep track on the whereabouts of travelling university staff.
Deputy University Director Per Ragnarsson says that several offices in the University Administration are coordinating in order to get a clear view on all the consequences of the bankruptcy and put new measures in place.
It is hoped that a temporary travel booking solution could be found in August.
Postpone bookings until August, if possible
The message from the University Management is that offices and departments should postpone making travel bookings and arrangements until a new travel agency has been made available.
"If it is possible to hold off on travel bookings until August, that would be strongly preferable," says Per Ragnarsson.
"If there are travel booking needs that simply cannot wait, the respective department or office will have to contact the airline company or other travel supplier directly."
Travel bookings that are made without the assistance of a travel agency will still need to be paid from Umeå University's travel account.
For domestic train travels, Umeå University is working to implement a digital booking solution with SJ, Swedish Railways. A booking service should hopefully be available soon on the intranet Aurora.
Travel agent bankruptcy coincides with lifted travel restrictions
During the first half of 2020, Umeå University have had strict travel restrictions in accordance with government decisions and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden. Naturally, this has kept the demand for travel agency services at a low level.
International business travel is cancelled until 30 August, but travels within Sweden are allowed from 13 June onward.
"Losing our travel agent at a moment when travel restrictions are being lifted is certainly not an ideal situation", Per Ragnarsson admits.
Although he assesses that the approaching summer holiday season probably means that the need to make business travel bookings will stay low throughout June and July.