Is it time to review your business travel policy?

Monday 15 April 2019

What is the main purpose of your travel policy?

Your Travel Policy should be a living document, strong enough to enforce your business objectives but flexible enough to ensure traveller buy-in. Regular reviews will help you keep your policy focussed on what's important.

What is the main purpose of your travel policy?
A trio of forces are forcing organisations of all kinds to rethink their travel policies:

New technologies/ service delivery models which make it harder to enforce traveller compliance; a changing risk profile across many regions of the world which demand an increased focus on duty of care; and new pricing models in the travel industry that make it difficult for travel bookers to optimise their time and understand comparative costs, and for travellers to understand policies and what is included.

How should travel managers respond?
Be clear about the objectives of your travel policy and what you want to achieve. This will help you make the right decisions about contracts, offers, and partner relationships and be a focus of all negotiations and policies.

Talk to travellers about what they want.

You might not be able to respond to every demand, but every demand does need to be considered in the context of your overall objectives. What can you say "yes" to?

If you work with a travel management company, it is also worth involving them in the policy development process. As well as being able to offer you insights and advice, your travel management company will have a clearer idea of your policies and the goals behind them.

If they understand why a policy has been put in place in the first place, they will have more leeway when applying the policy and can feedback more pertinent ideas for improvement.

Investigate opportunities for personalisation.

Different travellers have different needs. How much flexibility can you build into the system in order to accommodate these needs?

How can this be reflected in your travel policies? For example, should frequent travellers be entitled to extra standards of comfort? What defines a "frequent traveller"?

Digitalisation offers opportunities for personalisation that simply haven't been available before; as well as helping you to monitor spend and manage risk in real time. Investing in systems for travel management - or choosing to work with a travel management company that can provide these services - will not only help you build flexibility but also monitor how that flexibility is being used so you can develop your planning accordingly.

What flexibility can you build into the system to transform your travel policies into an employee incentive?

As we've already noted, putting staff at the heart of your travel policies is key. When looking at how much a particular rate, agreement or policy may save the business, you must balance that against the cost of traveller discomfort and stress, how this could affect morale, well-being, and retention.

Offering perks doesn't have to be more expensive: building in flexibility to extend business trips for leisure could save you money if travellers then make the return flight off peak, for example. A flexible b-leisure policy could save the business money as well as being a powerful staff incentive.

How do you communicate policies?

Communication is always an essential element of any travel policy. This isn't only about marketing channels and campaigns; this is about clear and effective messaging.

The need for clear messaging and effective communication is magnified if you are increasing the amount of personalisation and flexibility, as this can be interpreted as complexity. How are you going to communicate the changes and ensure your message has clarity so that everyone understands the rules?

How do you enforce policies?

The simple way to ensure your policies are enforced is to use a travel management company for all travel. You'll need to select a travel management company that offers flexible monitoring and management reports, as well as being competent in enforcing your policies, so you

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