Ever scramble to turn in your expense account on time while searching everywhere for a handful of errant receipts?
Amy McColgan Page and her six-member team at Johns Hopkins Travel and Expense Programs have a solution for that. And they can help get you out of a war zone, too.
"One of the fun things about our mobile app is you can take a picture of your receipt while traveling and it will sit in the available expenses [queue] until you're ready to submit," says Page, now in her eighth year at Hopkins.
And the team can help get you home safely if you are on overseas business and there happens to be an earthquake, a war breaks out, or your wallet is stolen.
"We have full visibility of our travelers in terms of geopolitical problems or natural disasters" such as the early February earthquake in Turkey and Syria and the recent outbreak of war in the Sudan, she says.
"We're able to locate, evacuate, and repatriate through [a partnership] with HX Global," the U.S. division of a British company that provides international medical, security, and travel assistance, she says. "HX got our Hopkins employee out of Turkey" in the wake of the disaster that killed more than 50,000.
From reimbursement to rail tickets across a continent (Hopkins, Page says, spends a little more than $25 million a year on air and rail travel) to recovery from sticky situations, this is how to navigate Hopkins' wide-ranging travel software.
- Start on your my.JH page.
- At the bottom of the page, click Travel.
- First time using the travel portal? Review the Booking Guide for step-by-step details.
- A menu will appear on the left side of the page. Click the Booking Travel tab. This page includes email and phone numbers of members of the Hopkins travel team for assistance.
- Here, you will also find the Concur expense processing page, which contains links to Johns Hopkins' expense policy, training videos, and a getting started guide.
- For easy access on the road, download the Concur mobile app on your phone.
If you're looking to plan a personal trip for pleasure or whatever else might take you from here to there and back, the my.JH travel page can save you a few bucks for a small fee.
"If they go through Concur, it's a $4 charge," Page says. "Calling an agent directly through our contracted travel management company is $35." Those fees, Page says, are often offset by discounts for Hopkins employees "depending on what airline they choose."
What convenience a sophisticated travel portal would have afforded Amy Page's family when she was growing up and her father's job took them all over the world, back when crowds at the 1964 World's Fair marveled at the promise of a computer-friendly future.
When Amy was 5 and the family lived in Catonsville, her father, John McColgan, a Westinghouse official for international marketing, was loaned to the Peace Corps. His assignment was Micronesia, then a U.S. territory.
"We went across the Pacific in a DC-3 [propeller plane]—my parents and three kids," she says. "Dad was not chief of [Westinghouse] marketing, but we called him Chief! We settled in Saipan."
When Page was in high school, McColgan was transferred to Shiraz in the southwest corner of Iran. In 1979, he was sent to Ireland. While there, Page attended college, married, and had a child. She returned to the States after giving birth to her daughter.
"When we were living in Ireland, I was going to college [at what is now the University of Limerick], and my father said, 'Why don't you get into the travel industry?' Forty years later, I'm still doing it."
While Page doesn't do much business traveling of her own—and the travel industry has had to reinvent itself in the wake of the internet—she certainly understands what it's like for American families to be living and working overseas.
"My group manages the relationship between Johns Hopkins and our contracted travel management companies along with IT to support the booking process; the expense process; payment processes, including the JH card programs; and risk mitigation in the travel space," Page says. "We handle policy questions and help thousands of people traveling on behalf of Johns Hopkins every day."
What the department is not is a version of a travel agency, one of the many industries that took a beating once the Internet allowed people to do their own booking on a computer.
"[Traditional] agencies that have survived have had to identify different revenue streams and provide services beyond the reservation process. It's very complex and very challenging," Page says. "We manage relationships with suppliers and review and support contracting venues for meetings and events. We even have a contract with Lyft."
Oh, and one more thing.
"If you're flying on behalf of Johns Hopkins, you won't be flying first class," Page says. "A lot of our funding is federal, so we abide by federal travel regulations to keep costs down."
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