3 Ways Corporate Travel Managers Can Stop Employees From Going Rogue
tl;dr: When employees book travel outside of policy it makes it hard to control expenses and forecast spend — what can you do to keep them in line?
Managing corporate travel compliance can feel a lot like herding cats. When your employees book outside the guidelines of your corporate travel policy, it can cause huge problems for you in terms of budgeting, expenses and duty of care. What’s a corporate travel manager to do?
Focusing on the negatives by repeatedly calling transgressors to task won’t win you any friends, and it’s more likely to promote push-back than cooperation. But consider this: even the most independent feline is happy to do your bidding once they know what’s in it for them. Comfort and treats go over well.
Amenities and perks go over well with harried business travelers, too. So here are 3 tips to help ensure your employees don’t go rogue.
1. Set clear guidelines that work
Keep it simple. Yes, business travel can be complex, and there are often exceptions and mitigating circumstances that affect any set of guidelines. Nonetheless, try to keep your corporate travel policy to just 2 or 3 pages. Best practice? Create a one-sheet that covers the basics (flights, hotels, ground transportation), and make it mobile-friendly so employees can simply tap to see the rules they need most.
Clue them in. They can’t follow rules they never heard about. Make travel policy training part of your new hire onboarding process, and make sure existing employees can easily access the entire policy for details not covered on their one-sheet. Put up posters, and host periodic reminder sessions. That way, no one can claim they “forgot.”
(Hint: Including travelers when creating and reviewing corporate travel policies shows you do care. It also helps assure fair, consistent guidelines that make sense for everyone. Now there’s no reason to go rogue and over-do it, and no one feels they have to suffer for the greater good.)
2. Make It Easy to Follow Your Guidelines
Setting parameters is a great start, but your people can still waste a lot of time finding allowed flights and lodging. A streamlined booking process based on company guidelines will automatically keep travelers in bounds, and they’ll appreciate the time savings and reduced hassle as much as you do.
There are three keys to booking efficiently and within guidelines -- meal per diems, hotel per diems, and dynamic pricing. These tools provide built-in flexibility that ensures travelers still have choice to soothe their independent side (and meet the unique specifics of each trip).
Your streamlined process should also allow travelers to capture and submit receipts digitally. Going paperless automatically ensures complete, timely reimbursement for employees and accurate, timely data for corporate travel planners and budget-minders.
(Hint: A comprehensive digital tool such as Lola pulls it all together in a simple mobile app everyone can use, anywhere, with the added peace of mind of knowing 24/7 live back-up is available for help with problems.)
3. Reward Travelers for Compliance
Let them keep the perks they rack up from vendors and suppliers, such as airline mileage, for personal use.
Allow (or, better yet, encourage) “bleisure” add-ons when feasible. An extra day or two, or even an afternoon by the pool before tomorrow’s Big Meeting can do wonders to refresh your traveler’s outlook and readiness to tackle business tasks successfully.
(Hint: Consider offering treats/incentives that reward loyalty to your corporate travel guidelines. Positive reinforcement works best. Plus, announcing the winners of your monthly “compliance contest” gives you more opportunities to reinforce travel policies with your employees.)
All Eyes on the Catnip
Travelers, corporate travel managers, and finance managers all have the same goal: travel experiences that facilitate building your business, at controlled costs that also support business growth. When employees know the goals and have clear-but-flexible guidelines they can follow without hassle, it’s easier to inspire compliance with your corporate travel program. No more rogue cats, lots more purring.