Guidelines for Creating a Corporate Travel PolicyBy Emily Parker-Woodland
A corporate travel policy is a tool designed to help both employees and company executives make effective decisions. It explains what you expect from traveling employees and what they can expect in return.
Some types of corporate policies are simple. For example, your company allows X number of sick days each year. Travel policies? Not so simple. Making travel arrangements and living the plan involves any number of variables. There are contingencies that have to be considered. And your company has a Duty of Care that must be observed to keep your people safe and secure on the road, even in an emergency. Your travel policy has to cover all these bases.
The introduction should explain why your company has a travel policy and how it benefits your business travelers. Remind people that they represent your firm while they’re traveling, so their behavior reflects on your brand as well as themselves.
Guideline 1: Make a Corporate Travel Policy That Fits Your Company
That’s because the details reflect the reality of your corporate travel needs and your company culture. Think of it as a continuum.
On one end, there is an absolute policy that sets out specific rules that must be followed, no matter what. This approach can save money, as it often focuses on least-cost travel options. It can also frustrate employees to the point where they simply ignore the policy. How can they apply the same rigid rules to vastly different destinations or travel purposes? What happens if there’s an unexpected change?
At the other end of the spectrum, there is an “almost anything goes” policy that lets employees DIY their travel plans within a few general guidelines. The problem here is lack of consistency that inevitably winds up costing your company more without giving you any real visibility into where the money is going.
Guideline 2: A Happy Medium Works for Everyone
No tool has value unless it is truly useful. A travel policy that takes a balanced approach can address the company’s need for timely, accurate, and complete financial information as well as employees’ need for flexibility and choice:
- Transportation, hotel, and meal parameters that consider convenience, comfort, and work productivity on-the-road as well as cost.
- Extras or exceptions that are unique to your organization.
- Clear explanation of what expenses are reimbursable (or can be charged directly via corporate credit card) and the required reporting procedure.
- What arrangements travelers can make on their own, and what requires prior approval.
Guideline 3: Digital technology ties it all together
A travel policy that is clear and relevant can be a great tool. Unfortunately, many companies falter when it comes to compliance – mainly because making approved travel arrangements is inconvenient and time-consuming. Employees have to sift through a myriad of searches to find appropriate flights, lodging, etc.
Not so, with a customized digital tool like Lola.com. Travel planning and follow-up processes are fully integrated, based on your organization’s travel policy guidelines and preferences. Your business travelers can secure acceptable, cost-effective reservations without all the floundering around. They can capture all their expenses on the go, ready to submit efficiently and quickly upon return. When you make it easy, you don’t have to worry about non-compliance.
Without rules, chaos ensues. By creating a corporate travel policy, you get:
- Consistency and predictability
- Cost visibility and control for better budget management
- Complete, accurate, financial and travel usage data for better decision-making
- A better “customer experience” for traveling employees that can boost morale and productivity
Guideline 4: It's Not a “One and Done”
Since it will be time-consuming to create your first corporate travel policy, you may be tempted to heave a sigh of relief when it’s finished. Do celebrate your achievement! But know that your policy is, in fact, a working document that will require regular review to ensure it remains relevant and useful. Good news, though: flexibility that benefits your travelers will also enable your policy to flex with changing travel trends and business needs.
Lola.com is the simple solution for corporate travel management. Perfect for companies big and small, Lola uses powerful AI technology and 24/7 support to help business travelers book trips with ease while providing travel managers with simple tools to create travel policies, view budgets and monitor the business travel of all team members.