What to Consider When Creating a Travel Policy
By: Kjersten Anderson Date: March 31st, 2022
By: Kjersten Anderson Date: March 31st, 2022
When you oversee your company’s travel program, it may be easy to set up a travel policy and then forget about it. Or you may want to implement a travel policy but don’t know where to start.
Travel policies are more than a long list of rules; they set up your travel program for success. They connect travelers to your clients, enhance business growth, keep travelers safe, and impact your company’s bottom line. Today, policies also help you watch out for travelers’ health and safety during COVID and in a post-pandemic world.
In today’s travel environment, it is the perfect time to revisit your company’s travel policy or develop one, no matter the size of your program.
In this article, we dive into what your company needs to consider when creating a travel policy.
Below we list what you should consider when building your travel policy. Whether you’re starting from scratch or refreshing your latest version, the items below can help you create an effective travel policy.
Analyzing your existing policy can help you figure out what is crucial to keep and what needs updating. Going through your policy also allows you to identify inefficiencies and areas of overspending.
To highlight what needs updating, ask the following:
Asking these questions helps you get to the root of current problems, find trends, understand what travelers have trouble with, and set you up to create a more successful policy in the future.
Determine what your goals are when building your new travel policy. Are you trying to cut costs or improve traveler safety? Pick a few main goals so you have a set vision and can easily draft each section with your priorities in mind.
Other examples of goals and priorities for refreshing your travel policy:
Establishing these priorities will ensure that employees understand the purpose behind the policy and help you achieve your goals.
Over the past few years, more travelers have started pushing for flexibility. Recent Wakefield and Concur research shows that the pandemic only enhanced that desire, with 72% of corporate traveler respondents ranking flexibility as a top consideration for business travel.
Before you start building your policy, figure out what level of flexibility or strictness you want. Do you require employees to request approval for every trip before booking it? Do you allow travelers to book for themselves, or will an admin handle booking? Can travelers incorporate leisure into their business travel?
Every company is unique, and its policies should reflect its specific needs. So, your flexibility will look different. It may mean providing accommodation options, letting travelers book themselves but within policy guidelines, or allowing travelers to add leisure days to their trips. Whatever you choose to go with, strict or flexible, make it clear in your travel policy.
Adopting new technology and trends helps you improve compliance rates, traveler experience, and productivity. Using travel technology instead of clunky documents to automate parts of your processes will reduce manual labor and cut back on wasted time.
Having a tool for booking, for example, helps travelers book within policy more often and therefore improves compliance. Utilizing tools makes your travelers’ and team’s lives easier.
Embracing new travel trends allows you to give travelers more flexibility, attract talent, and keep up with the changing travel environment.
Recently, booking alternative lodging options, like Airbnb or Vrbo, and using rideshare apps, like Uber or Lyft, have become more common for business travelers. Also, trends such as “bleisure” travel can attract new talent that views business travel as a perk.
These added choices give travelers more flexibility and allow them to travel how they feel comfortable. Look around at the innovative tech and emerging trends to find the ones that best fit your company.
According to TravelPerk, 50% of corporate travelers say they don’t always follow their policy. If you want your employees to adhere to it, you need to communicate the reason for your travel policy. Explain how the policy impacts them and the company.
Educate them on what’s included in the policy. Demonstrate where travelers can find what they need, such as emergency contact information, booking and upgrades, expenses and reimbursement, and what their per diem covers.
Also, make sure it’s accessible for your employees. Email it to travelers, add it to your company’s file-sharing system, and have it be available through your booking tool. You can even create a FAQ page or resource for employees to review when needed. In addition to being found easily, travelers should want to look at the policy, so finding ways to excite employees is essential.
Compliance helps you reach the goals you want to achieve with your travel program. If you create a travel policy to support your travel program, but travelers aren’t complying, then that hard work goes to waste.
Travelers failing to follow your travel policy may be due to confusion or frustration with the process. Giving employees a place to provide feedback shows you care about their experiences. It’s a way to receive and implement ideas to increase efficiency, improve traveler satisfaction, reduce costs, and reach other company goals.
Create a closed-loop feedback channel and ask travelers what they do and don’t like, what’s challenging, and what they would improve about the process, from approval to expenses. In your policy, explain how travelers can comment on the process.
Reading through the responses and implementing the necessary fixes helps you continuously improve and adapt to travelers’ needs and the changes within the business travel industry.
Creating an effective travel policy requires you to tailor it to fit your company’s needs and culture. One-size-fits-all solutions won’t work. Make your policy clear and simple, focused on traveler experience and safety, accessible for all employees, and flexible to the ever-changing travel industry and trends.
FerskTech is developing a revolutionary comprehensive platform that streamlines the sourcing process and empowers travel managers and suppliers with multi-supplier sourcing and real-time data analysis for enhanced program oversight, decision-making, and program savings.