A new year brings New Year's Resolutions. Not only is it a great time to cut out the carbs or exercise a little more, a new year is the perfect time to review your business travel policy and see if your current one meets the needs of your business.
But what is a Business Travel Policy and what factors do you need to consider when making a change?
A corporate travel policy is a set of guidelines designed to control and measure business travel costs. Every organisation should have a good business travel policy in place to help control and manage business travel expenditure. Rather than issuing a blanket travel policy focused on controlling corporate travel spend, Travel Managers and Travel Buyers are also becoming increasingly involved with matters such as traveller well-being, duty of care and employee benefits. This means that various departments including HR, Finance and Management may all have a stake in how a travel policy is put together, which can make defining a set of guidelines that everyone is happy with, quite a daunting prospect.
#1 Is it fit for purpose?
You may be wondering if your travel policy needs updating? Do you have recurrent complaints from travellers that the expense limits set don’t reflect the current costs of fuel, hotels and rail journeys? Setting a realistic set of expense limits that take into consideration geographically higher costs in major cities, will drive greater travel policy compliance and ensure employees will ensure more travel is booked centrally through your chosen Travel Management Company (TMC), driving costs savings and ensuring that all travelling employees are captured within traveller tracking systems for any emergency support.
#2 Year in year out
It is good practice to incorporate a review of your current travel policy into your annual strategic planning at year end... A lot can happen/change within a year not only for your company, but the market as a whole. Hotel spend limits that were set a more than a year ago may not take into account market increases or the changes in exchange rates, especially in today’s turbulent times. These changes can mean your expense policy becomes out of touch, with more out of policy expense and, which could directly impact your travellers and cause more work for your finance teams when reconciling expense payments.
#3 You don’t look the same
Your business travel may have evolved, meaning your main business focus and company objectives may have resulted in an increase in travel. Ensuring your policy is fit for purpose is paramount, liaising with your travel management company (TMC), or getting a business travel agent to help if you are organising travel yourself and finding organising travel is becoming too time-consuming will be critical to maintaining costs and net profits. A good travel partner will work with you to help manage this growth and offer recommendations and support to ensure you keep focused on costs when expanding your business.
#4 Who? Where? Why?
Incorporating traveller well-being into your travel programme will ensure you show appreciation for the miles being travelled by your team. Using points accumulated on corporate airline or hotel reward programmes to provide an unexpected upgrade will go a long way to motivating your frequent travellers who are often fundamental in driving the growth in your business, and will support staff retention initiatives. Building this level of flexibility into your travel policy allows you to reward high performers and use this as a statement to attract the best talent to your business.
“Bleisure” is a prominent topic within the business travel industry, so you should be aware of the concept.But if not, “Bleisure” relates to the concept of adding leisure days to the beginning or end of a business trip.
There are many advantages and disadvantages to business travel, let alone bleisure travel! (we have another blog here explaining bleisure travel benefits). For example, the company impact of bleisure trips can be detrimental in some cases, without a solid corporate travel policy in place some employees may take bleisure trips without approval. So whether you approve on a case by case basis, approval should always be at the manager's discretion whilst complying to travel policy guidelines. Having business travel data on hand will help companies pay attention to employee travel patterns, a good Travel Management Company can provide access to business travel data with Management Information reports provided normally to you by a dedicated Account Manager.
A mistake made by many is that they write their travel policy once and then forget about it. To ensure your travel policy continues to meet your objectives, you need to let it evolve when it needs to. Your travel management company should be able to provide reports on policy compliance and exceptions along with reasons why, but you also need to be open to the opinions of your travellers too.
Want to know more? check out our free ebook on how to write a corporate travel policy....