Lola.com Refreshes Travel Policies to Help Finance TeamsBy Rebecca Morrison, published on Aug 13, 2020
As a finance leader evaluating corporate travel software, robust travel policies are one of, if not the most important criteria.
To maintain agile operations, you don’t want to have to approve every single booking. This will simply hold up your travelers, and create more work for you. How can you be agile while still knowing that your travelers aren’t overspending and bookings trips out of your company’s travel policy?
By setting up automated and dynamic policies in Lola.com!
We’ve recently refreshed both our flight and hotel policies to give you more accurate insight into which booking options are truly in or out of policy, as well as more options to customize your policies exactly to your company’s needs. As a finance leader, you can trust our new policies to save you both time and money.
Let’s start with our newly refreshed flight policy.
You’ll start by setting a spending cap, and we give you 3 different options: dynamic, global, or none.
Dynamic Spending Cap
We recommend using our dynamic spending cap, in which you can define fare flexibility by either dollar amount or percentage. Fare flexibility is the amount above the cheapest fare in any given flight search that you will allow your travelers to book. This is important so that your travelers can travel at times that work with their schedules, on airlines that they frequently fly on, and more.
So, what does defining fare flexibility by dollar amount look like? If you set your dynamic cap to $50 and the lowest fare, in the highest Cabin Class allowed, with the minimum number of stops is $200, prices higher than $250 will be flagged as "out of policy". What about if you define it by percentage? If you set your dynamic cap to 50% and the lowest fare in the highest Cabin Class allowed with the minimum number of stops is $200, prices higher than $300 will be flagged as "out of policy".
We recommend fare flexibility by dollar if you fly mostly domestically on short-to-medium routes, since these fares are lower and consistently close in price.Alternatively, if you have a lot of international and/or lengthy flights, fare flexibility by percentage tends to be more effective as these fares will both be a lot higher as well as vary more by departure time and airline – using a percentage helps to standardize what is reasonable for your travelers as much as possible.
Global Spending Cap
Instead, you can set a global spending cap, in which every fare under that cap will be deemed in policy. We don’t recommend setting a global cap because flight prices vary significantly based on season and booking window (time from booking date to travel date). However, we understand that some finance teams are most comfortable with this type of cap in place, and we wanted to make these policies as customizable as possible. If you're more comfortable having a global cap in place, we recommend a higher cap – we recommend a cap of at least $1000.
No Spending Cap
Finally, you can also select “no spending cap,” if you don’t want your travelers to have any maximum fare restrictions. If you do select this, keep in mind that your travelers will still be bound to the cabin class requirements that you set – that is, if you allow them to only book economy, they will be able to book any economy fare regardless of price, but nothing in business or first.
Also new is the ability to indicate a minimum number of days between booking and departure. Booking earlier can save on travel costs if feasible for your business, so some businesses opt to flag last minute, expensive trips as out of policy. You can select 7, 14, or 21 days as your minimum, or opt out of this option completely.
Lastly, you will select requirements for each cabin class (such as economy or business): always allowed, never allowed, or allowed if air time exceeds a certain number of hours. We recommend utilizing the air time selection feature and allowing your travelers to book a class higher on longer trips (such as those that exceed 6 hours). But, this is all dependent on what your company is comfortable with, and which group of travelers you’re setting this policy up for! Your executive team will likely have different desires and needs than your junior associates.
Next up, let’s check out our refreshed hotel policy.
Maximum Star Rating
The backbone of your new hotel policy will be a maximum star rating. This way, you can very easily and dynamically guide your policy to ensure that your travelers are staying in a comparable level of comfort regardless of seasonality or market conditions. All hotel bookings above your set star rating are marked as out of policy.
We now also give you the option to set non-refundable rates as out of policy. When travel dates are uncertain and subject to change, booking refundable rates may ultimately save your company money. However, refundable fares are usually more expensive than non-refundable rates. If your company tends to book more expensive cabins and/or cancel trips more frequently than the average company, this option may be perfect for you.
Though we don’t recommend it for most companies, we’ve listened to our customers and added a Global Spending Cap so that you can set a nightly cap on a hotel room anywhere in the world.
You can also set City Caps, which is a nightly spending cap for specific cities. Any city cap that you set will override the global spending cap, if you have one in place. These are recommended for cities that your team travels frequently to and where you have a good handle on the typical prices. Keep in mind though that you’ll want to set these City Caps a bit above (at least $50) what you expect to be a “reasonable” price for that city.
Welcome to Agile Operations.
We’ve designed these new policies with finance teams in mind, to help you keep your team spending appropriately while remaining agile as much as possible. Lola.com is the premier travel management platform for finance professionals looking to wrangle their team’s expenses with ease.
Ready to make the switch to agile operations? Take a demo today.