With the latest trends in travel including the growth of the sharing economy, new ways to book through Google and TripAdvisor and consolidated loyalty schemes such as Stash Hotel Rewards – it is more important than ever for companies to have a transparent travel policy that is tailor-made and ultimately works for you.
Corporate travel policies are vital for businesses to help manage the costs of work travel and provide the company with a level of control over the experience and safety of their employees whilst travelling.
A typical travel policy will include suppliers that employees should use, guidance on the correct methods of booking, what they can pay for on a company card and reimbursements they are entitled to. Some companies mandate their policies and some are more flexible, either way your travel policy needs to be tailored towards your specific business needs – no two companies are the same!
Reasons why having a good travel policy is important:
- All employees are entitled to the same standards
- Automation removes yet another decision (many suffer from decision fatigue these days)
- Employee comfort is guaranteed (reduce risk of bad service and help travellers feel safe, clean, rested)
- Cost optimisation (booking a standard room over a suite, corporate rates negotiated)
- Data is knowledge (helps to benchmark against industry standard and make better business decisions)
DESIGNING THE RIGHT POLICY
Firstly, you will need to review your current activity: analyse travel practices, negotiate travel discounts with traveller flexibility in mind and set goals for your policies.
This is usually a process undertaken by your Account Manager either at the start of an implementation with a new Travel Management Company (TMC) or during a quarterly review.
There are certain items all travel policies should cover:
- Expense categories: including preferred suppliers, advance booking recommendations, booking tools and payment processes
- Non-refundables: identify any subsidiary elements of travel that are not reimbursed by the company such as airline change fees, seat upgrades, dry cleaning etc.
- Expense reporting & re-imbursement: seek recommendation on working with a specialist expense management tool and document correct procedures
- Safety information: consider working with a security specialist as well as detailing basic information that the company will require to keep travellers safe such as itineraries and contact numbers
- Ancilliaries: these will be any ‘add-on’ features to a trip which could include a transfer or taxi, but as suppliers continue to ‘scale back’ their packages could also include things like seat selection, baggage allowance or in-flight meal
Additional considerations may now include the sharing economy, bleisure travel and hierarchy (different levels of policy) – how and if you will include these in your company travel policy.
ENSURING POLICY COMPLIANCE
With the best change management programme in the world, ensuring 100% policy compliance can still be a challenge. Certain tools will help bring compliance in line such as Approval Tools and Reporting helping identify any out of policy booking and the selection of non-preferred suppliers.
Technology is making it much easier for bookers to identify and select the company’s preferred travel suppliers – by highlighting in-policy options and displaying them prominently in search results. Equally, booking tools can be customised so that bookers cannot choose hotels and airlines outside of the recommended travel policy.
Pre and Post trip reports can identify individual travellers that are regularly booking outside of policy and the company can then take decisive action to find out why and how they can support the booker to book in policy in future.
There is a recent trend towards mandating policies and booking processes to help maximise compliance to their travel programme, i.e. if a company wants all travel to be booked online, it will not reimburse any travel booked offline.
We expect to see more and more mandating as companies work towards minimising costs, enhancing benefits through loyalty programmes and ensuring traveller safety through booking using the recommended channels.
As part of our account management service, we work with clients to review, develop and set in place tailor-made policies that work for you. Please contact your Account Manager if you would like to review your travel policy.