Mistakes to Avoid when Making a Corporate Travel Policy
In recent times, travel managers and accountants have been faced with the growing phenomenon of “rogue” business travelers. Employees who travel frequently scoff at strict corporate travel policies and ignore rules to customize their business trips. Another worrisome factor in the industry is the bleisure travel preferences that can prove to be hard to track and audit. Selecting fun activities over professional duties is becoming a great obstacle for companies.
Even though this practice has probably always existed, the trend seems to be reaching new heights as more millennials move up the corporate ladder. So, what are the most common mistakes when making a corporate travel policy?
Not aligning your policies with your business culture
If your company culture is specifically built to attract millennials, why wouldn’t you instill a similar philosophy in your travel program? When a company is flexible but has a travel policy that’s handed down to team members from atop a hierarchical structure, employees don’t understand why specific regulations exist and are more likely to break the rules.
Solve this by giving the people who will have to follow the rules some say in them. That way, you’ll get input from various sources and will make your employees’ lives more comfortable (not to mention happier) when representing you on the road.
Youth nowadays is more prone to utilize mobile devices. Being able to open an app and make changes in the itinerary wherever can improve engagement and productivity. Corporate travel management has evolved into a more employee-friendly field. In the past travel agents and managers were the ones in charge of 95% of the system. Now the younger generation has a more significant impact and holding.
Your policies are too strict
Even if rigidity may save a few dollars, it’s often more counterproductive than you think. For example, if an employee would rather stay at a more expensive hotel than recommended, perhaps he’d be willing to re-allocate some of his meal per diem in exchange.
You’ve neglected to analyze the data on how active your policy is
Too many executives assume they need to cut all travel expenses to help the company, but a careful review of the data may reveal otherwise. The first step in drafting a new travel policy should be a rigorous examination of what’s working and what isn’t.
You could be surprised to find that employees ordering room service are more productive because it gives them more time to get their work done. Consider also a bit more for a comprehensive airline Wi-Fi package so your travelers can get the job done.
Not investing in the right technology
Consumer sites are dictating the behavior and expectations of an online booking experience. Travelers want the same user experience whether they are booking corporate or leisure travel.
Online Booking Tools can be designed by agencies or software companies. Given the complexity and ever-changing industry, very few agencies ventured into the OBT development (successfully). Softwares like SAP Concur Travel platform leads the market in Finance Technology Integrations (with modules for Expense Management, Invoice, AP, etc.)
Before partnering up with a TMC, ensure to research which online booking tool they are paired with. You don’t want to find yourself launching a program that can’t scale or interface well with your current systems.
Wondering if having a snack to eat while on the plane should or should not be put on expenses? Or maybe you took an Uber not knowing if it was against the company’s policy? Examples like these prove the significant value of delivering a fluent and unambiguous travel policy.
Using precise wording is a must. Let's see a simple example: If the employee is asked to purchase the lowest cost airfare, does that mean the flat-out inexpensive one? Or does it mean the most cost-efficient one, considering convenience and productivity costs? Make it easy to understand.
Sharp communication also applies to explain what to do when unforeseeable events happen. If it occurs, flight cancellation or any other disruption must be stated clearly within the policy text, employees should be aware of the steps to take.
Creating a travel policy that maximizes the company’s investment will require some trial and error. You’ll need to analyze the data, assess the state of your current failings and successes, and gather input from travelers to create a policy aligned with your culture.
Falling into the most common errors is no longer acceptable. Ultimately, you can make your travel policy an appealing and reasonable one by staying relevant.
Find out 4 Things a Travel Policy should cover here.