Writing a water tight corporate travel policy might seem like an unnecessary use of time, especially when many businesses already limit travel expenses to a significant degree. You might also have total confidence in your staff to avoid any wasteful spending, meaning a travel policy just doesn’t seem necessary. Both of these may be true. But, a great corporate travel policy goes far beyond just restricting the spending of your representatives on the go.
A corporate travel policy exists in most part, to save time through avoiding unnecessary conversations, tension points and leg work, often for your administrative staff. Streamlining this process empowers every aspect of your corporate travel experience; every individual from the traveler down knows where they stand and what’s expected, enabling your entire team to focus solely on the task at hand.
Where to start writing your corporate travel policy
Do you already have a corporate travel policy? If so, take a look through it and highlight exactly what has and hasn’t worked in the past. Learning from the shortcomings of your a previous travel policy is essential when drawing up your new list of priorities and goals. Involve relevant stakeholders in the process to gain further perspective on exactly what is needed from your shiny new corporate travel policy.
Where did your previous policy, or lack there of, fall short. Did it expose your business to careless spending? Was too much power placed in the hands of the traveler? Was there particularly low satisfaction amongst your frequent travellers? Asking these kind of questions will help you structure your priorities and goals, in order to truly nail your corporate travel policy.
Priorities and goals:
Why are you updating your policy? Try and outline the two or three key differences you want to make, such as increasing satisfaction amongst your corporate travellers, or meeting the demands of a bigger team. Define the business purpose behind these goals, and outline them; this will leave everyone on the same page.
Some examples of good goals to improve your corporate travel policy:
- Streamline booking and approval process
- Increase overall traveler satisfaction
- Limit the opportunities for unnecessary spending
- Reduce workload for administrative staff
- Improve overall compliance with travel policy
- Reduce tension points caused by existing travel policy
- Improve duty of care and overall safety for travellers
- Define a procedure for out of office hours, emergency assistance
- Improve financial tracking and accountability
Involve the relevant parties:
No matter the size of your company, extra eyes will always be able to provide extra insight. It is important that your new corporate travel policy pleases everyone that it comes into contact with, from the CEO down to the individual traveler. To streamline this process, use the goals you have outlined in the previous step, and have your companies important stakeholders approve or deny each and every one.
Important stakeholders that would offer a helpful perspective on your new corporate travel policy:
- Travel manager – Whether that is an internal or external position, travel professionals will be able to offer insight not only on traveler behaviour, but also offer perspective that comes only from working closely with travel vendors in order to get you the best value for your business.
- Office manager / Executive Assistants – Often the ones responsible for organizing trips and providing support. This role often takes up a huge amount of resources and free time, which is why many businesses now look to outsource travel management to corporate travel specialists, that offer round the clock support to your travellers.
- CEO – Offers the business-centric perspective and will therefor be particularly interested in goals related to compliance and avoiding financial waste.
- HR – Understands what is expected by the employees, helping to align any duty of care, safety policy and traveler satisfaction related goals.
- Frequent travellers – First hand experience operating within the confines of a previous policy will allow for the best scrutiny. For example, sometimes the cheapest flights (red-eyes) hamper the chances of a successful business trip, far more than the worth of the savings made.
Collaboration as an essential part of writing a corporate travel policy and a key component in increasing compliance across your workforce; this way, everyone will feel considered and understood when it comes to publishing the document.
Time is valuable, and having this many people involved can be a scheduling nightmare. So, to kick things off, bring the relevant parties together for a very brief meeting, solely for the purpose of approving and denying your travel policy goals. Then, you can work independently to fill in the details, pulling on the advice of others when required. As soon as the document is finished in your eyes, a final, even briefer meeting would be necessary for approval.
Filling in the blanks
Now that you have established the goals of your corporate travel policy, you now have to fill in the gaps in order to make the content easily digestible for your business travellers:
- Open with your introduction, stating the intent of your travel policy and what it is expected to achieve. Include an introduction of essential information here, such as a brief overview of approval, exceptions and reimbursement procedures.
- Your approved corporate travel agent or booking portal should be detailed next, along with the timeframes bookings should be made within, as well as who exactly is approving itineraries.
- Allowable expenses. What can travellers expect to be covered by the business. Are meals covered? Entertainment?
- Non-reimbursable expenses. These are the ones business travellers must pay for, including expenses such as room service, the mini-bar and dry cleaning.
- Specific policy on cars, trains, planes and hotels: What range of hotels can be booked? Is fuel for personal vehicle covered? What are the expectations for longer flights? What is the minimum distance to travel by plane?
- How to submit expense reports, expense claims and requests for reimbursement.
- How to contact 24/7 emergency support, for those with corporate travel management, or the alternatives if that isn’t the case.
It is also important that a corporate travel policy reflects the size of the business and the type of travel it serves. For example, a small business might only fly to a small number of familiar destinations. So, it would be easy here to limit lodging to a select few rooms at a number of hotels. Bigger, multinational companies might have greater success employing phrases such as “mid-range” hotels, with “minimum requirement reservations” (e.g. one traveler, single room).
Your corporate travel policy is looking ready?
Now it is once again time for approval from your aforementioned stakeholders. This should be an easy process as you have already worked out the goals of this document. So, give only the options to Approve or Deny the document thus ensuring no time is wasted getting your document over the line. Make sure to listen to any feedback you receive, this might mean one or two redrafts.
It’s time to share your new corporate travel policy!
Upload your policy to an employee portal so, no matter where you travelers find themselves, they always have access to this essential document. Also, don’t forget to share your new document with your corporate travel management company! This way everyone, at every step, is in the best place to enact your businesses vision of a fantastic, fortuitous corporate travel experience!
How to get your employees to follow your corporate travel policy?
You have to nail the tone. Whether your company is strict on policy, relaxed or somewhere in-between, this has to be conveyed effectively. If your policy isn’t open to interpretation, make that clear; it will save on some uncomfortable conversations down the line. Alternatively, if you want to leave much of the decision making to the individual, by all means do that. Just make sure to give your travellers relevant guidelines to work within!
Make the reading of your corporate travel policy essential by including the information travellers need to know. This includes all relevant information about reimbursements, expenses and the procedures that must be followed to access them. Also, make sure to reference corporate travel insurance and what to do in the case of an emergency. If your employees are continually referring to your corporate travel policy, the more likely they are to follow it in its entirety.
How are travellers expected to book? Make clear the approved process they are expected to follow in order to get itineraries approved. Do you work with a travel management agency? Make absolutely certain they have all the necessary information when it comes to these processes. This might mean setting different budget constraints for c-suite travellers, business class tickets for flights over x number of hours and detail who exactly is responsible for approving itineraries and don’t leave this open to interpretation.
Looking for corporate travel representation?
At Inspired Travel, we offer a fantastic range of services that, along with your new corporate travel policy, will be sure to elevate your businesses travel experience to a whole new level. Service is what sets us apart from the rest, with each client receiving a single dedicated corporate travel professional to work with. This means your preferences are always catered for. Our unique staffing structure also allows for 24/7 emergency support. So, your travellers will always be looked after, by a dedicated travel professional, no matter the time or the place. Follow this link to get in touch today!