Yukon government experiment with booking flights proves a flop

A Yukon government pilot project to see if the bureaucracy could save time and money by booking its own flights, rather than using travel agents, shows few gains.

A Yukon government pilot project to see if the bureaucracy could save time and money by booking its own flights, rather than using travel agents, shows few gains.

Yukon government officials are set to meet this week with travel agents to discuss what’s next, following this lacklustre outcome.

“There was dissatisfaction with the pilot project as staff felt there was no noticeable difference in the process of efficiency gain between the pilot project system and the traditional system,” said one survey respondent afterwards.

From January to June 2014, Yukon employees booked flights online to Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, rather than going through local travel agencies like they normally would.

Roughly 74 per cent of Yukon government travel and 98 per cent of medical travel to destinations Outside are to gateway cities of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, according to the Air Travel Pilot Project Highlights Report from Dec. 2014.

Before the pilot, travel requests would go from a department head to a central travel desk, and finally to travel agencies, who would actually book the tickets.

At the time, the government paid about $175,000 annually in booking fees to local travel agents for those destinations.

Three departments took part in the project: Economic Development; Energy, Mines and Resources; and Health and Social Services.

According to the report, the project put more work on employees’ plates while producing negligible savings.

“The booking process interfered with regular staff duties and introduced a lot of stress into the workplace and work relationships,” according to one travel arranger respondent.

“Guidelines and procedures provided were not clear as there were too many exceptions and uncertainties,” wrote another.

According to the data, it cost an average of $244 to self-book a ticket to Vancouver, and an average of $241 by going through the government’s travel desk.

Using the travel agencies, it cost an average of $244.

Similar results were achieved for Calgary and Edmonton. In total, 616 tickets were purchased during the pilot project.

The average time to arrange bookings did not decrease, either.

It took an average of 9.91 minutes to self-book tickets (with a maximum of 44 minutes) and an average of 5.73 minutes through the travel desk (with a maximum of 42 minutes).

It only took 4.28 minutes using the travel agencies.

“More time was added to the booking process, especially with the paperwork and reporting required,” said one respondent.

“It was difficult to allocate time for booking immediate flights,” said another.

The data and comments collected are meant to help government decision makers “as it considers opportunities to reduce costs and improve efficiencies for the procurement of airline travel.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com