7 Things to Avoid Putting in Your Corporate Travel PolicyBy Alex Hyman
The best corporate travel policy for your organization will be unique to you because your company’s travel reality is different from other firms. What you include in your policy will depend on who in your firm is traveling, why, and where. But what you leave out is as important – maybe even more so in some cases – as what you put in.
There are certain things that should never be included in a travel policy. By avoiding these seven mistakes, you can create a corporate travel policy that benefits both company and travelers.
Mistake #1: Setting Dollar Caps for Hotels
Room rates vary considerably from city to town, in the US and around the world. A set amount could be ridiculously high for some locations. Conversely, do you really want your people staying in some sketchy neighborhood or a creepy hotel? Dynamic pricing allows travelers to choose appropriate accommodations in a convenient location. (PS: overly-restrictive flight policies are counter-productive, too.)
Mistake #2: Failure to Consider UX
Morale matters. Policies that are a hassle to follow, overly disrupt personal lives, or force people into uncomfortable travel situations are disheartening, to say the least. Your legal duty of care – to ensure employees are safe while on the job – should show that you care. Who wants to travel when they have to depart (or arrive) in the middle of the night, or sit around twiddling their thumbs in some airport waiting room for hours?
Bleary-eyed, disaffected employees cannot possibly do their work well or represent your company and brand in the best light. If your travel policy is too convoluted or onerous, frequent flyers may just fly off to a more caring employer.
Mistake #3: Overlooking Safety Concerns
Unfortunately, travel safety has become a legitimate concern, no matter where your people are headed. Terrorism and natural disasters make the news, but what if someone gets sick or has an accident? Yes, privacy is also a concern, but that’s no excuse to sidestep responsibility here. Policy should require at least that you know a traveler’s schedule, where they will be staying, and how to contact them. The reverse is true, too – who do they call in an emergency? A policy that has their back will give folks confidence and peace of mind.
Mistake #4: All Work and No Play
Not allowing travelers to extend their stay to take in a little “me” time is mean-spirited and counter-productive. Especially when most companies complain loudly that their best people do not take enough time off. Bleisure is a hot and growing trend, so why not take advantage of that? Traveling for work can be a lot of work, so sprinkle some sugar on that by encouraging folks to include some R&R in their schedule. They might even be able to score lower airfares or room fees.
Mistake #5: Reams of Paper
You aren’t still requiring travelers to fill out a bunch of forms by hand for reporting and reimbursement, are you? Any corporate travel policy that includes a fat appendix of forms is so old-school. Who wouldn’t balk at all that? Could this be why your people can’t seem to get expense reports in on time? If only you adopted Lola.com instead, you’d have a simple, seamless tool every traveler and internal manager could use for planning, execution, and reporting. Customized to your own policies. Paper-free.
Mistake #6: Failure to Update
Travel is changing as fast as the rest of our world, and an out-of-date policy is no help to travelers or to your company. Just one example: baggage fees. With airlines now charging for that, will you reimburse that expense, or not? (Hint- you should!)
Mistake #7: Eschew Obfuscation
Got your attention with that, didn’t we? The single most important thing to avoid in your corporate travel policy is too many words. Usability directly affects whether your people will even read your policy, let alone understand it or follow it. Re-read Mistake #2. The most effective policy is clear and concise. We know that travel planning and reporting is complex, so we recommend you actually produce two documents: the whole enchilada that spells out the details, exceptions, etc., plus a one-page version that covers the key points.
Did you notice a pattern here?
Lack of flexibility! The more restrictive your policy, the more likely it will be unworkable in the real world. You’re encouraging people to ignore it. So be sure your corporate travel policy is realistic, allows reasonable wiggle room to accommodate the vicissitudes of business travel, and makes it easy for everyone to follow the rules.
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