Despite the growing popularity of working from home, around 35% of US businesses still depend on regular travel. Depending on a company’s policy, business travel can either be an interesting perk or a logistical nightmare. Here’s how to set a policy that makes sense.
Corporate Travel Policy Benefits
A corporate travel policy is an essential part of corporate travel planning and a vital tool for the person or department tasked with travel management. This policy represents an important agreement between the company and the employee.
For the company, the policy helps to set predictable limits that can aid planning. It can answer questions that might otherwise require management clarification. It can reduce employee turnover and serve as a recruitment tool.
For the employee, a travel policy gives them the freedom to acquire approved services, meals, and other expenditures. They feel secure that they will have the necessary finances to conduct their work and be comfortable. They are less likely to feel abandoned.
Crafting an effective travel policy takes research, tenacity, and a willingness to adapt to rapid changes.
Tip #1: Solicit Information From Stakeholders
The majority of company travel policies have less than perfect compliance. Policies that benefit both parties and offer clear benefits tend to have higher compliance rates.
If you’re upgrading a current corporate travel policy, identify its weak points. If you’re making a policy from scratch, make sure to understand your travelers’ needs before committing time to a draft document. Some research is necessary in both cases.
One way to solicit information is to provide a forum. Encourage employees to discuss their travel experiences. Make it clear that the point of the forum is to collect a wide range of information about what works and what doesn’t. If necessary, consider secret ballot-style drop boxes in discreet locations so data may be collected anonymously.
It’s important to keep in mind that business owners usually view travel as an investment. It’s about bolstering strategic partnerships or completing valuable contracts while minimizing expenditures. Employees, though, tend to see travel as more of an experience. They are more likely to look forward to seeing the sites in their downtime and reminiscing on travel memories when they get home.
For this reason, policies that maximize company profits at the expense of employee comfort and enjoyment will create problems beyond low conformance rates. Poor experiences may foster negative feelings toward business travel, which can filter into corporate culture. This may lead to higher turnover rates and endless hiring cycles.
Tip #2: Make It Easy To Understand
The final draft of the corporate travel policy should be as brief and comprehensive as possible. The language used in this document should be understandable and free of confusing jargon or ambiguous statements. Arrange information in paragraphs, subheadings, and bullet points. Use numbered sections or lines for easy reference.
Tip #3: Address Each Type Of Travel
Since employees travel for different reasons, make sure your travel policy covers different situations. Some of the common reasons for business travel include:
- Product demonstrations or testing
- Employee relocation
- Forms of enrichment, like seminars and training classes
- Industry awards, dinners, and other professional gatherings
- Trade shows, exhibits, and industry events
- Client visits or sales calls
Having different policies for different travel helps to limit waste. For example, a policy covering temporary relocation may cover lodging expenses only, while a policy that covers attending a conference may cover lodging, meals, entertainment, and more.
Tip #4: Cover Common Topics
The following topics are common to many corporate travel policies.
Itinerary Approval – Explain how to conduct this process, who is involved, and how long it should take.
Reimbursement Procedure – This is the part of the policy many employees are likely to read the most. Make sure this section of the document is as clear as possible. Describe any documents or materials travelers need to retain, like receipts, for instance.
Meals, Lodging, and Entertainment – Make it clear what restaurants are approved and what level of dining needs additional approval, if allowed. Some companies use a set amount, like $50 a day for meals, for example.
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