By Carmen Stinson on Aug 01, 2018
3 min read
We know that trying to orchestrate a successful business trip for a group of employees is involved and that you must know the 4 things a travel policy should cover.
Business travel is a complicated and expensive process, yet very necessary. In the U.S. alone, companies were projected to spend over $290 billion on travel & entertainment (T&E) in 2017. In the end, the cost rose to $304 billion.
Managing all of the business travel conducted within a company is even more complicated: Dictating business travelers what is the reasonable price for a hotel or airfare could give anyone a headache.
In comes corporate travel policy to the rescue! Not only will it outline the booking process, but it’ll also state what is covered and how to report expenses.
What is a business travel policy and which are its benefits?
Put simply: A business travel policy is a set of guidelines to be used by companies, travel managers and employees for travel and its related planning. The primary objective of a travel policy is to keep travelers safe, while also adhering to the company’s guidelines (like a budget).
One of the most valuable advantages of a business travel policy is the clear protocols. For example, maybe your company allows business class seating for international travel. This fact is then stated in the travel policy, so your present and future employees will understand said specification.
Likewise, the duty of care responsibilities and safety protocols can be established, for travelers to adhere to them and be safe.
Lately, travel policies are used to attract new hires and increase employee engagement survey scores.
4 Things a Travel Policy Should Cover
Many variables may drive decision in a company’s business travel policy. And if you’re the person in charge of writing such plan, be prepared to be involved in a juggling act by needing to balance the preferences of employees with those of the company.
While we can’t recommend an exact approach, policies should always cover certain items:
The expense category tells travelers what the company will reimburse them for, or if it’ll allow bookings through mobile apps or company cards. Make sure to list every T&E item that the company is willing to cover, along with any restrictions or guidelines. For almost all of the categories, you’ll need to tell travelers:
- Preferred vendors (airlines, hotel chains, rental car providers) they should book with.
- The company’s booking requirement. It’s common for companies to require employees to book hotels and flights at least two weeks before the trip.
- The website, booking app, or travel management companies the traveler should use.
- The process for payments. Maybe there are certain things for which employees should use a company card versus a personal card.
All reasonable travel policies state what items the company will not provide reimbursement for. Some common topics include:
- Airline preferred seat upgrades
- Toiletries or clothing purchased during the trip
- Airline change fees
- Parking tickets
- Hotel staff tips
- In-room movies
- Pet boarding
Even though some of these items may be listed in the expense categories, it’s useful to have a full list available in its section for traveler ease-of-use.
Expense reporting & reimbursement process. Some common items are:
- The documentation (forms and receipts) that the company needs to reimburse travelers.
- The time limit for travelers to submit expense reports after the trip.
- How soon after submission the employee can expect to be reimbursed.
- Consequences if employees do not comply with policies.
- The expense categories that need pre-approval.
- A person who approves trip requests or expense reports, and their contact information.
Another important goal of any company business travel policy is to protect the safety of employees. It’s essential to state any travel safety procedures, to accomplish your company’s duty of care. You might consider:
- Requiring travelers to submit their itineraries (or implement a booking tool that tracks all travel). This way you’ll know where they are at all times.
- Describing any insurance the company holds for travel.
- Providing contact information and resources for different types of emergencies.
In this day and age, customized and personalized experiences are significant to travelers. And mobile devices and apps are being used more and more frequently. If you want compliance to your travel policy to stay high, make it as easy as possible to follow by using apps or alternative types of communication. Overall, make the experience a good one!
Director, Global Corporate Travel