What is a travel policy?
A travel policy is a set of rules that specifically outlines how business travel should be conducted. Usually, a company’s travel manager, HR manager, legal team, or office manager is responsible for compiling a company’s travel policy.
The key to creating a good policy is finding the optimal balance between the company’s interests and the employees’ needs.
What should a travel policy contain?
A travel policy needs to cover the entirety of a business trip – from booking transportation to accommodation budgets and travel allowances.
One common mistake is thinking the travel policy only consists of costs. Although it’s an important element, keep in mind that a business trip’s success depends on much more than that.
The rules outlined in most travel policies are:
- How to book flights, accommodations, airport transfers, and car rentals before leaving
- How to book car sharing services once you’re on location
- What the daily budget is for food and incidentals
- What the rules of conduct are on a business trip
- What approvals are needed before organizing a business trip
- What to prepare for the destination – for example, documents, gifts, or booking meeting rooms
- What traveling employees’ responsibilities are – for example, activating roaming or securing travel insurance
After creating a corporate travel policy, the next step is encouraging employees to comply with it. Below, we compiled a list of best practices to follow when ensuring compliance.
7 ways to ensure travel policy compliance
After creating the travel policy, it’s time to make sure everybody within the company follows it. Below, you’ll find 7 pieces of advice on how to ensure travel policy compliance from your employees.
1. Be mindful of your duty of care
Your responsibilities should start from your duty of care. Being sure you have your employees’ wellbeing in mind and that you never put them in harm’s way is one of the main rules when ensuring travel policy compliance.
Duty of care covers a lot of elements. From not exposing people to dangers while traveling for business—like sending them to risky locations—to making sure you don’t push your people just to save costs, like insisting on a longer flight because it’s cheaper.
2. Communication is key
The easiest way to make sure people follow your travel policy is to communicate it as clearly as possible, by using easy-to-understand language and avoiding legal jargon.
A few simple solutions we recommend are:
- Quarterly reminder sessions with the whole company
- Scheduling preliminary meetings with whoever will be traveling
- Adding the necessary information in your onboarding process
3. Create an easy-to-follow checklist
Sometimes, the easiest way to follow a set of rules is to compile a simple checklist.
Creating a step-by-step list and defining the limits for a budget not only encourages travel policy compliance, but will empower your employees to properly arrange their own business trips. This, in turn, can help foster a more independent working environment.
4. Define limits and make a list of providers
Defining the budget limit per night, as well as the hotel category, helps ensure travel policy compliance. Be clear that your employees can book a hotel with no less than 3* and outline a daily budget, for instance.
Also, some companies are more than happy to negotiate and create specific offers for your corporate business travel. Create a provider list of collaborating partners for an easier decision-making process.
5. Be flexible in your travel policy
Even with a travel policy in place, the reality is that you can’t control everything. By keeping your policy flexible, you don’t only remove the pressure from the employees, but you ensure you’re ready for any change of itinerary.
You need to account for canceled bookings, double-booked hotels, or employees encountering health issues while abroad.
6. Listen to feedback
Open the discussion of travel policy to the whole company and listen to feedback from all stakeholders.
It’s recommended to continually update your policy and improve if needed. As time goes on and your company gains more experience with business travel, solutions to problems may arise more easily.
7. Make incentives for proper compliance
Incentives are a great way to motivate employees to engage and comply with a travel policy. Consider dividing the surplus travel budget as a yearly bonus or acknowledging best travel practices and best destinations reached via business travel.
Measuring travel compliance and the consequences of non-compliance
You can measure travel policy compliance through numbers—like budget estimates—and by sending traveling employees questionnaires upon their return.
But travel policy compliance is an important element all around. The benefits of encouraging it are:
- Showcasing duty of care. Having employees comply with your travel policy might be in their own best interest. The rules are there for their own safety, so making sure they adhere to them means taking care of them.
- Ensuring transparency and better forecasts. Knowing beforehand that your policy will be respected means you can both avoid bad surprises and make budgetary and scheduling predictions.
- Avoid overspending. Travel policies are there specifically to offer guidelines for budget spending. If you don’t encourage your employees to adhere to the travel policy, the risk is that they overspend on their business travel.
- Solidifying way-of-work. By complying with the travel policy, people will have an easy and structured way to organize their corporate trip. You’ll not only help them make the decision when booking their travel, but it will give them the chance to focus on the business part of the trip.