For most companies, corporate travel is business as usual. But despite being a regular part of the job, it’s surprising how many challenges can spring up along the way. That’s where a well-defined travel policy can make all the difference. If you’re looking to draw up a company travel policy or revise an existing one, here are a few important insights to consider first.
Why is a travel policy important?
A travel policy defines specific guidelines for a variety of business travel arrangements. These include everything from bookings and budgets to managing reimbursements and monitoring expenses amongst many others. The benefits of a well-defined travel policy are significant, particularly when it comes to reducing costs. Exclusive corporate rates are negotiated on your behalf, while adhering to partnerships with preferred airlines, car rentals and hotels also results in substantial savings. Knowing the whereabouts of employees and outlining clear safety procedures also provides some control over their travel experience and safety. Compliance to a consolidated travel policy streamlines the booking process, and minimises the need for time-consuming administration for each individual business trip.
The risks of getting it wrong
The benefits of a well-defined travel policy cannot be overstated. However, this is only true if implemented correctly. A travel policy is only effective if employees are willing to comply with it. If business travellers feel that their travel experience isn’t being taken into account, they may be less likely to follow the correct procedures. These policy breaches may detract from potential savings. A lack of employee satisfaction could also reduce their performance, causing them to be less productive in meetings, presentations and networking events. They key to a successful travel policy is balancing employee satisfaction with the company’s bottom line.
The changing business travel landscape
As more millennials begin to join the market, their behaviour has begun to influence the way business travel works. With new technologies and apps emerging every day, your travel policies should be reviewed often in order to keep up. Take these factors into consideration when defining an appropriate travel policy.
The 'sharing economy' effect
While the use of services such as Uber and Airbnb are commonplace in everyday living, they can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to business travel. Some advocates for the use of these services believe it’s a more cost-effective alternative to formal car rental companies and hotels. On the other hand, companies have less control over the safety of employees, which could result in insurance and liability issues. Either way, be sure to take this into account when outlining a travel policy that works for your company.
The rise of bleisure travel
Mixing business and leisure travel is an attractive option for many corporate travellers. It adds to their travel experience and often results in improved employee satisfaction and productivity. A further benefit is the possibility that employees would be willing to use their own leave to travel on less popular (and more cost-effective) days. If your travel policy allows for this, be clear as to when the company expense allowance ends and their personal financial responsibility begins.
Travel policy essentials
Whether it’s due to the number of employees, frequency of travel, company culture or any number of other variables, every company’s travel policy is different. However, there are a few essentials that every policy should include:
- The procedure to follow for authorising a business trip
- Rules for booking air travel, accommodation and transport
- Payment, approval and reimbursement procedures
- Expense allowances and exclusions
- Employee vs. management responsibilities
- Safety and emergency procedures
How to get your employees on board
Communication is key. Before you can get your employees to comply with the company travel policy, they need to understand what it entails. Make sure your travel policy is clear, up-to-date and readily available to all employees. Consider holding a brief training workshop to educate key management staff. Send out emails highlighting the safety and convenience of following the policy, along with the penalties for non-compliance. You may even consider including incentives for employees who consistently comply. Also allow for feedback from your travellers to comment on what they liked and disliked about the travel arrangements, and amend the travel document where necessary.
If you'd like more information or help with improving your travel policy, contact a Corporate Traveller expert today.