EPFL Travel agency

Maison de la mobilité at EPFL © Alain Herzog

The central travel agency is dedicated to advise and support the EPFL community members for booking travel services according to the current travel guidelines.

From 1 December 2023, Kuoni Business Travel (DER Touristik Suisse) will be the new EPFL travel agency and the only authorized purchasing channel for booking air travel organised and/or paid by the School. Kuoni BT can also help you obtain travel documents (visas, permits, etc.) and book accommodation or hire cars.

Reservations for national or international train tickets must be made at the Lausanne public transport ticket office or via the SBB webshop, in accordance with the current procedures.

Kuoni Business Travel (DER Touristik Suisse)

In compliance with the Federal Law on Public Procurement, EPFL launched a public tender procedure which resulted in a five-year partnership with Kuoni BT (DER Touristik Suisse) . The central travel agency is at the service of the EPFL community for all advice and reservations for academic trips organised and/or paid for by the School.

Founded in Switzerland more than 30 years ago, Kuoni Business Travel is the business travel department of DER Touristik Switzerland. It has more than 40 employees based in Geneva, Lugano, Zurich and Uzwil.

The team dedicated to EPFL is made up of three bilingual (French/English) agents who are highly qualified in organising business trips, managed by the Geneva-based office:

  • Caroline Gumy: head of the EPFL travel agency
  • Diane Gasana: business travel specialist at EPFL
  • Monika Buchmann: business travel specialist at EPFL
  • Jacky Pugin: Head of Kuoni Business Travel for French-speaking Switzerland

In accordance with the EPFL Directives, all air bookings must be made via the dedicated Kuoni BT team in order to :

  • Monitor and continuously improve the EPFL’s travel policy
  • Ensure financial and environmental monitoring of academic travel
  • Ensure EPFL’s duty of care towards staff and students
  • Ensuring the protection of personal data

The advantages of a central travel agency at EPFL:

  • Benefit from support and expertise in organising complex academic trips
  • Benefit from the Confederation’s negotiated fares with airlines
  • Relieve administrative staff and travellers of the burden of organising and booking trips
  • 24/7 assistance in the event of an emergency
  • Book flexible, changeable or cancellable tickets as required
  • Inform travellers directly, via the international assistance partner, of the documents or medical requirements necessary for travel and the potential risks involved
  • Have a single point of entry for booking multiple travel services (documents, flights, car hire, accommodation, etc.)
  • Direct access to the booking file and rapid action in the event of changes, irregularities, unforeseen circumstances or disputes.
  • Direct transfer of accounting entries.

For advice, quotations and online bookings:

For advice, quotations and bookings on the EPFL campus (BI A0 432):

  • Mon-Fri: 9am – 1pm / 1.30pm – 5pm (except public holidays)
  • Without appointment

Booking procedures

Planning your trip in advance ensures that your air travel complies with EPFL’s internal policies and gives you greater flexibility in your choice of flights.

Before the journey, the trip organiser or the traveller must :

  • Read the current EPFL Travel Directives ;
  • Assess the cost/benefit ratio of the trip, including professional, personal well-being, environmental and financial criteria ;
  • Assess the possibility of using videoconferencing instead of travelling ;
  • Find out about the geopolitical and health situation at your destination and in any regions you may be travelling through :
    • For staff : travelling to regions considered high-risk by EPFL (levels 4 and 5) is subject to approval by the Travel Commission.
    • For students : travelling to regions considered high-risk by the EPFL (levels 4 and 5) is prohibited.
  • Find out about the private insurance cover and international assistance services you need to travel abroad ;
  • Plan your trip using preferably transport that has a low environmental impact ;
  • If the trip involves air travel or at least one night’s accommodation, make a travel request and an expense report using the Expense management tool ;
  • Complete/check your traveller profile by entering your personal details and emergency contacts via Umbrella Faces;
  • Book your trip via EPFL’s official suppliers, once your travel request has been validated ;
  • Check the validity of your identity documents and the cover of your health insurance policy ;
  • Obtain any travel documents (visas, permits, etc.) or medical examinations (vaccinations, health tests, prophylaxis, etc.) required by the country(ies) visited. These costs are reimbursed by EPFL.

During the journey, the trip organiser or the traveller must :

  • In the event of an emergency relating to a travel booking, contact the 24/7 service of the central travel agency (Phone: +41 58 702 64 00) ;
  • In the event of a personal emergency, notify the international assistance partner immediately ;
  • Make sure, as far as possible, that the travel budget is not exceeded.

After the journey, the trip organiser or the traveller must :

  • Finalise the assignment of costs related to business travel to the expense report.

Services offered by the agency

Thanks to its expertise, the travel agency offers a complete range of services, ensuring a carefree travel experience and providing tailor-made solutions to meet travellers’ individual needs and preferences.

All scientific, administrative and technical staff, students, guests and external personnel mandated by the EPFL benefit from the services of the central agency Kuoni BT, as long as the academic trip is organised and/or paid for by the EPFL and a travel request has been validated. The agency is at your disposal for booking flights (compulsory), hotels and car hire.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure that he/she meets all the requirements for entering a country and that travel documents such as passports and visas (transit, professional, tourist, etc.) are valid.

Depending on the conditions, the process of obtaining a visa can take some time and involve significant costs. The CIBTvisas platform provides information on entry requirements for each country at a preferential rate, depending on nationality.

The School recommends using CIBTvisas to spare EPFL travellers the often tedious process. Travellers are nevertheless free to carry out these procedures themselves at embassies and consulates, or possibly through another service provider.

Contacts CIBTvisas :

  • Phone Geneva: 022 884 18 70
  • Phone Berne : 031 313 20 20

Flights must be booked through the central travel agency Kuoni BT. Once the travel request has been validated, you can contact them to request offers that correspond to the best compromise in terms of price and connections, in compliance with the EPFL’s travel guidelines.

  • Kuoni BT will present a maximum of three offers to those wishing to travel.
  • If the chosen option is no longer available and the fare difference is less than or equal to CHF 100.00, the ticket will be issued. If the difference is greater, the agency will inform you and propose other offers.
  • Some low-cost airlines can only be booked via their website and require payment by private credit card (e.g. JetBlue).
  • The agency cannot make any bookings via the airlines’ websites as it cannot guarantee any service or assistance.
  • EPFL benefits from tariffs negotiated by the Confederation with certain airlines, which are applied by Kuoni BT for bookings. The conditions of these fares represent a significant saving, as they allow greater flexibility for tickets, baggage and cancellation conditions.

The mobile application is free and gives you an overview of all your bookings (flights, hire cars, accommodation, etc.). It notifies travellers instantly in the event of delays, cancellations or gate changes.

The App is available in the App Store or Google Play, only for travellers with a traveller profile and an @epfl.ch email address.

There are two ways to connect:

  1. The traveller uses the login from their Umbrella Faces traveller profile. It is important that the traveller has registered a mobile number in their traveller profile, otherwise no information about the trip will be visible in the App.
  2. The traveller registers on the application without using the Umbrella Faces login. In this case, the EPFL e-mail address and mobile number must be the same as those indicated in the profile on Umbrella Faces. Otherwise, no information about the trip will be visible in the App.

Each file booked by Kuoni BT will therefore be automatically transmitted to the application. In the event of a cancellation or a request to modify a booking, please contact the agency’s dedicated team.

24-hour service for travel services

  • The 24-hour service is available outside opening hours (same number as during opening hours):
    • Mon-Fri: 6pm-8.30pm
    • W-e and public holidays: 24 hours a day
    • Phone: +41 58 702 64 00
  • The service answers in English only.
  • The cost per call is CHF 80.00.

IMPORTANT :

  • The agency’s 24-hour service can only modify or cancel an existing reservation.
  • Students and guests are not authorised to contact the 24h service. Only the administrative assistants responsible for their travel are authorised to do so.

During academic travels, unforeseen circumstances such as medical emergencies or the loss of your wallet can arise. EPFL has therefore set up an international assistance programme. All EPFL staff and registered students are covered by International SOS.

Kuoni BT can offer various optional cancellation insurance policies through its partner ERV (Européenne Assurances Voyages). You can contact the agency to request a quote.

Kuoni BT’s dedicated team will also take care of any special requests, such as assistance for people with reduced mobility, transport of scientific equipment or additional luggage.

The addition of any private travel before or after the academic trip is possible, but must be mentioned when the travel request is drawn up.

The traveller is responsible for the private portion of the trip. Payment of the difference between business and private travel must be made internally with his/her unit. Only one method of payment is authorised by the travel agency for a ticket issued (the EPFL Airplus card). It is not possible to debit a private card to pay for part of the ticket.

It is possible to order a ticket for a private companion; a ticket fee of CHF 80.00 will be charged by the travel agency.

To benefit from professional advice and negotiated rates, we recommend that you book your accommodation through the EPFL Travel Agency, which will offer you the best deals in EPFL partner establishments or according to your budget.

The agency is also at your disposal for car rental bookings.

Traveller profile

The profile must be updated by the person travelling via Umbrella faces before any booking is made. A guide to using the platform is available.

If you have any questions about updating the profile, please contact the agency’s dedicated team.

Please check that the following information is up to date in your profile prior to booking.

  1. Personal details :
  • Nationality
  • Passport number and expiry date
  • Mobile phone number

IMPORTANT: your profile must match your identity document.

EPFL students will soon be able to create their own traveller profile. Information will follow in early 2024. In the meantime, please follow the same procedure as for guests.

As the procedure is currently being clarified, we invite you to contact the agency’s dedicated team directly so that they can inform you of the procedure to follow for booking tickets.

Reservations made via CWT

From 1 December 2023, CWT will only manage:

  • Cancellations of files booked before 30 November 2023.
  • Follow-up of disputes and complaints made before 30 November 2023.
  • Follow-up of refund requests for tickets issued by CWT before 30 November 2023.

For changes to bookings from 1 December 2023:

  • In the event of changes, the organiser will contact CWT directly by e-mail.
  • It will no longer be possible to order new tickets, which must be ordered via Kuoni BT.
  • For emergency treatment, it is necessary to contact CWT by telephone.

For bookings made before 30 November 2023 via CWT (Mon-Fri: 8.30am-6pm):

Contact

For technical assistance with your travel request: [email protected]

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Kuoni BT (DER Touristik Suisse)

For advice, quotations and online bookings:

– Mon-Fri: 8.30am – 6pm, non-stop

– Phone +41 58 702 64 00

– E-mail: [email protected]

For advice, quotations and bookings on the EPFL campus (BI A0 432):

– Mon-Fri: 9am – 1pm / 1.30pm – 5pm (except public holidays)

– Without appointment

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For any questions relating to the booking procedure: [email protected]

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For all questions relating to the reimbursement of expenses: [email protected]


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