How to Create an Effective Corporate Travel Policy (+ Free Template)
A corporate travel policy is a set of guidelines to help employees manage their travel expenses and understand the reimbursement process for business travel. Below, we’ll share a template and walk you through how to write your own company travel policy.
Why a Corporate Travel Policy is Important
A corporate travel policy has the potential to keep business travelers within a specific budget for their flight, lodging, meals, and entertainment expenses. For the finance team, this type of travel expense policy helps with budgeting and forecasting for your company’s monthly and annual travel spend.
Corporate Travel Policy Template
Download Lola.com’s free corporate travel policy template here. Then, follow along with our step-by-step guide below to customize the template and write your own policy for employee travel.
How To Write a Corporate Travel Policy
Corporate travel policies are not one size fits all. You will need to take into consideration specific aspects of your company, like number of traveling employees, business purpose for travel, employee preferences, and budget size, when deciding on the specifics of your policy. Before you get into the custom details, it’s important to understand the foundational elements of a corporate travel policy.
The most crucial part of a travel policy is clarity about which expenses are covered, including specific dollar amounts, and which are not reimbursable. You want your employees to feel prepared when swiping the company card on the road.
Throughout each component of your corporate travel policy, articulate how much employees can spend, how they should pay for it, and who they need to send the information to. Here’s an overview of the necessary expense categories.
Elements of a Corporate Travel Policy
Here you need to outline exactly how much employees can spend on air travel and flight additions. What type of airfare should they be buying — Economy class? Business class? First class? If there are any special cases, like for longer flights, make those clear here as well.
Hotel costs are highly dependent on location, amenities, and time of year. Give your employees a per night price range and some specific hotel chains to target. Again, special circumstances might necessitate some flexibility here as well, so make those cases clear. Do you allow employees to expense additional charges like snacks and movies? They should know the answer before leaving for the trip.
Meals and entertainment
Need some guidance on how much to allow for each meal? The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) sets guidelines for per diem rates each year. The rates are based on location, and your employees can easily look up the per diem for their destination.You also have some control over what and how much you want to cover for your employees.
Will you have your employees using ride sharing apps or rental cars? Or do you leave it up to them? These are the questions that you need to answer in this part of your travel policy. Our template offers a few more guidelines on how to choose the best processes for your company.
Many people like to add leisure travel to the end of their business trip. Ask employees to document when they are adding personal travel onto the end of a work trip. Their plans are important for you to know in order to track their PTO and know the duration of each part of the trip, work and bleisure. As soon as their personal travel starts, employees should be using a personal credit card, not the company card.
International travel introduces a few additional complexities. When employees are traveling abroad, you may have to deal with Visas and immunizations. Make sure that employees understand which documents they will need for their international travel, and encourage them to get those organized sooner rather than later. Your policy should indicate which of these additional costs the company will pay for, and instruct employees on how to charge those expenses.
How to Enforce a Corporate Travel Policy
Once you have a corporate travel policy outlined, make sure that employees know it exists, know what it is, and know where to access it. At some companies, the finance team partners with the human resources team to communicate and enforce the policy.
Ultimately, using technology to help enforce your corporate travel policy is your best bet. With a streamlined travel management software, your traveling employees can see whether or not their choices are compliant with your policy during the booking process. Travel management software can also save employees time by eliminating the process of submitting expense reports. Finally, look for a travel management solution that provides robust support for you and your employees in the event of cancellations or other challenges to their travel arrangements.