Booking Travel

Seminars, Workshops, and Conferences

Effective July 1, 2023

Once a travel or conference budget has been approved by the University Seminars Director, Susan Boynton, the seminar or workshop Chair or Rapporteur may forward the Traveler Information Form to each guest speaker and/or respondent who requires travel accommodations. We do not recommend that the Rapporteur complete the form on behalf of the traveler since some personal information is required in order to make some arrangements,

Guest speakers and respondents should be notified by the Chair or Rapporteur of the travel funds approved prior to submitting the Traveler Information Form on their own

    Booking Travel

    Under the TSA Secure Flight Rules, we are required to collect the following passenger information: name (as it appears on government-issued ID), gender, date of birth and the name and phone number of an emergency contact. For international travel, we will need the passenger’s passport number, expiration date, and the country of issue.

    Other Considerations:

    • Once the Traveler Information Form is submitted, our Administrative Assistant, Giran Ceballos ([email protected]) will communicate with the travelling guest directly to confirm travel requirements.
    • For travelers requiring a hotel stay, Giran Ceballos will reserve hotel rooms if the information is provided in the Traveler Information Form.
    • The guest speaker and/or respondent should identify themselves as being with Columbia University or provide a confirmation number at the hotel check-in. Contact our Administrative Assistant of more details when requesting hotel accommodations.
    • If a pre-arranged travel or hotel reservation is no longer needed, inform Giran Ceballos ([email protected]) and the University Seminars office ([email protected]) as soon as possible so that the reservation can be cancelled in a timely manner. If a reservation is not cancelled, the seminar is still responsible for all charges.


    If your guest requires air/train and/or hotel reservations, once a Traveler Information Form is submitted with applicable information, The University Seminars Administrative Assistant, Giran Ceballos ([email protected]), will book air/Amtrak and hotel reservations directly.

    The University Seminars will pay the expense with the University's Business Travel Account (air/Amtrak) or Corporate Card (for hotels). The Administrative Assistant will contact the guest and forward any confirmation information.

    For interstate travel requiring NJTransit, LIRR, or bus lines, traveler will need to submit a reimbursement request. See Reimbursements page for more information.

    A traveling guest may request car service arranged with the University's preferred vendor, Luxury Transportation LLC for local travel (as an alternative to taxi service which requires a reimbursement request), rides to and from the airport or for rides to and from the University.

    To reserve the car service, send all of the following information to Giran Ceballos in an email or register via the Car Service Registration Form. Even with a round-trip, a separate form must be filled out for each destination with the following information:

    • Seminar name and number
    • Date of seminar or workshop (or conference)
    • Guest name
    • Guest cell phone number
    • Date of travel/car pick up
    • Time of pick up
    • Origin/pickup address: Airport name, flight number and origin city
    • Destination address: Airport name, flight number and destination city

    Once the car service is reserved, the traveling guest or rapporteur may contact Luxury Transportation LLC directly to make changes to the reservation using the phone number and reservation number provided on the confirmation email.

    Luxury Transportation, LLC will bill The University Seminars directly.


    • The University Seminars will consider travel requests for a one-night stay for a guest speaker. For speakers traveling a significant distance from locations within the US or Canada, The Seminars will consider requests for a two-night stay. 
    • International guest speakers may receive approval for a maximum of three nights. Chairs must specify a justification for the extra nights on the Travel Request Form for such travelers.
    • Guests who wish to extend their stay in New York City are responsible for booking separate accommodations. 
    • The cost of a hotel stay in the US should not exceed $350 per night (excluding taxes). Lodging costs in excess of $350 per night in the US requires payee justification and Financial Approval. Additionally, lodging costs in excess of $525 per night in the US requires Senior Business Officer approval.   



    Other Considerations

    Some guests may be visiting other departments at Columbia and may have their travel arranged by that department. If travel funding was requested and approved by The University Seminars Director, Susan Boynton, the outside department should contact The University Seminars Associate Director of Financial Operations, Geseinia Alverez-Lazauskas ([email protected]) to arrange an inter-departmental transfer of funds.

    Please have the outside department include their chart-string information in the body of the email. Our Associate Director of Financial Operations will arrange the transfer and contact the appropriate party for departmental approval.

    The following miscellaneous expenses are non-reimbursable. University policy considers these expenses to be either personal, unnecessary, or avoidable expenses incurred during travel. As a result, there may be tax consequences to the travelers if reimbursed. These non-reimbursable expenses include (but are not limited to):

    • Airline or VIP club membership dues or one-day admission fees
    • Airphone usage
    • Baby-sitting
    • Barbers and hairdressers
    • Clothing or toiletry items
    • Internet charges at home
    • Excess baggage costs related to personal property
    • Expenses related to vacation or personal days taken before, during, or after a business trip
    • Frequent Flyer Miles (Travelers will not be reimbursed for airline tickets purchased, partially purchased or accommodations and upgrades obtained using frequent flyer miles)
    • Travelers will not be reimbursed for credits issued by an airline from personal travel used to purchase airline tickets for business travel
    • Credit card and Airline Rewards program/points
    • Gift cards as a payment mechanism should not be used for travel and business expenses as they will not be reimbursed
    • Helicopter services for local travel/entertainment
    • Laundry or cleaning expenses on trips lasting five (5) days or less, unless emergency circumstances are documented
    • Loss or theft of cash advance money or airline tickets
    • Loss or theft of personal funds or property
    • Lost baggage
    • Luggage and briefcases
    • Magazines, newspapers, personal reading materials
    • Medical expenses while traveling
    • Mini-bar alcoholic refreshments
    • Movies
    • “No show” charges for hotel or car service
    • Online auction sites
    • Personal entertainment
    • Pet care
    • Recreational expenses
    • Saunas, massages, spa visits
    • Shoe shines
    • Souvenirs or personal gifts
    • Snacks
    • Tips in excess of 20% 

    Guest Speakers and/or Respondents Booking Their Own Travel