Traveling while on the job is essential in many companies across various industries in today’s world. There are certain tasks and job functions that can only be done by hopping on a flight, whether it is to oversee the development of something, attend an event, close a sale, or meet with a client. The list goes on.
With corporate travel being so essential, it is important to have a strong corporate policy in place to ensure employee travel runs smoothly. While there are many different manifestations of travel policies and people who oversee them, businesses face challenges when employees ignore policies such as requirements to book flights a week in advance, attach a hotel to a flight booking, adhere to per diems, use the designated online booking tool, or book through other designated channels.
Studies indicate that 72% of corporate travel managers have not yet achieved their desired travel policy compliance level. Luckily there are several corporate travel policy guidelines and tips available today to help get you there. Today, we’re covering corporate travel policy strategies employers should consider implementing to ensure a stress-free travel experience for their employees.
What Does a Corporate Travel Policy Look Like?
A strong corporate travel policy is one that covers all the bases and is practical and reasonable enough that employees are willing to adhere to them. This prevents them from going outside policy when traveling and therefore costing the company more money.
Here are the most important components to a corporate travel policy:
- Expense categories that you will reimburse travelers for, whether for travel or entertainment.
- Non-refundable items that your company will not cover.
- Any preferred vendors (airlines, hotel chains, rental car providers) through which they should book.
- How they should pay (company card vs. personal card).
- Advance booking requirements — how far in advance should an employee book a flight?
- What platform or agency should the agency use to book the flight?
- Safety information such as itineraries, contact information, insurance, etc.
The Importance of Corporate Travel Policy
There are many benefits to implementing a corporate travel policy. An effective corporate travel policy:
- Keeps the travel booking process organized
- Streamlines the reimbursement procedures for travelers
- Enables more savings
- Helps your company avoid fraud
- Protects employees through clearly outlined safety procedures
Gauge Employee Sentiment
First and foremost, you should always keep employee sentiment in mind. Like we touched on earlier, a happy employee means more savings on your travel budget, as they are more likely to adhere to a reasonable travel policy. One way businesses can improve policy compliance is by focusing more on improving the booking and travel experience for employees.
The best way to gauge employee sentiment on your company’s current travel policy and work on improvements is by conducting anonymous surveys. There are several user-friendly, free, online survey tools that collect data about employees’ experiences and preferences.
The goal is to learn about their preferences and consider those preferences in relation to future decisions about preferred channels or policy restrictions. Of course, you would still have to keep a budget and costs in mind. See where employee priorities lie. Would they rather stay in a three-star versus four-star hotel if more funds could be allocated for dining? This could be a way to shift your policy to meet employee needs while still keeping within budget.
Use Powerful Technological Tools
When it comes to choosing technologies, the best approach is to involve your employees in the conversation, looking at where travel policy compliance has its biggest gaps and seeing what tools are available to help with these specific issues. Luckily, there are several tools available today that your company can implement to make the booking process easier than ever before.
Here are a few of the best tools available today:
- AirBnb for Work
The next complication with travel policy comes with travel spending. Monitoring and controlling travel spending is no easy task. You have a mixture of payments with company cards, invoices and wire transfers for large purchases, and employees using their own money and claiming reimbursements. You need to track every one of these payments, assign them to the right people and teams, and keep a lid on budgets.
Here are some of the best tools out there that can help:
- Google Trips
Communication Is Key
Finally, one key part of communication is making sure travel policies are accessible, which is most likely when employees receive regular education on policies. Make sure your travel policies are clear and up-to-date so there is never any confusion.