Ensuring a Strong and Manageable Travel Policy
An effective corporate travel policy should reflect the business’s and its employees’ unique needs.
Travel policies cover items such as what vendors employees should use, how employees should book travel, what costs are covered on a company card, and how reimbursement works.
Some companies mandate these policies, whereas others are more flexible. Methods of improving corporate travel compliance should be adapted to the culture of the organization and should meet the distinct needs of the industry and economy.
Whether updating your current policy or writing a policy for the first time, there are five basic strategies any organization can use to ensure that their travel policy is relevant and manageable.
1. Define the Scope of the Policy – Depending on the needs of your organization, these are some essential areas to consider:
- Purpose: The policy should clearly state its intent to guide employees on the company’s expectations and requirements for business travel.
- Eligibility: The policy should specify who is eligible to travel on company business, such as full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, etc.
- Approval process: The policy should outline the process for requesting and obtaining approval for business travel, including any necessary documentation and the approval authority.
- Expense reimbursement: The policy should outline the company’s policies on reimbursing employees for expenses incurred during business travel, such as transportation costs, accommodation, meals, and other expenses.
- Travel arrangements: The policy should guide employees in making travel arrangements, including the use of preferred vendors and the types of travel that are approved (such as air travel, rental cars, etc.).
- Duty of care: The policy should outline the company’s duty of care responsibilities, including providing employees with information and resources to help them make informed decisions about their travel arrangements and providing support in the event of an emergency or crisis while they are traveling.
- Health and safety: The policy should include guidelines on health and safety while traveling, including recommendations for vaccinations and other preventive measures.
- Data security: The policy should address the issue of data security while traveling, including the use of company-approved devices and the handling of sensitive company information.
- Compliance: The policy should outline the company’s expectations for compliance with relevant laws and regulations, such as immigration and customs regulations, as well as company policies and procedures
2. Be Specific and Clear – The successful compliance of a travel policy rests on how effectively it is communicated. Clarify the preferred booking channels and types of expenses they can claim. Explain why those decisions have been made and that management supports and expects compliance. Be sure that the policy reflects travelers’ needs and provides options. This should be an ongoing process.
3. Educate employees about the travel policy. Everyone in the organization must be familiar with the procedure. It must be communicated to all through relevant documentation. For example, workshops could be set up to demonstrate the correct method of booking hotels, changing airlines, and gaining approval. Consider including corporate travel training as part of the organization’s induction process.
4. Measure compliance. To improve travel policy compliance, you need to be able to measure performance. Setting goals and metrics regarding time efficiencies, optimizing travel budgets, reducing travel expenses, and improving employee satisfaction is essential. By regularly surveying travelers to see if their needs are being met, your company can make necessary changes to guidelines and procedures, improve employee engagement, and boost policy compliance.
5. Automate the policy compliance process. Manual travel policy review is time-consuming, error-prone, and risky. Travelers book trips without knowing whether they are adhering to policy. Approvals fall through the cracks. Communication delays result in higher fares and lost itineraries. And companies need to meet regulatory standards. Cornerstone’s Policy Compliance Manager (PCM) mitigates risk and expense by automatically comparing bookings to policies during the reservation process. Travelers get immediate feedback if an itinerary requires approval, and approvers are notified (in near real-time) with clear insight as to what part of a trip is non-compliant.
How can a Robust Travel Policy Empower Employees and Ensure Compliance?
With tech-savvy millennials in the workplace, it is more important than ever to create a trustworthy culture in which employees feel empowered to take control of their bookings. When the company travel policy is integrated with the booking system, any deviation from compliance is intentional, reviewed, and managed on the spot.
Automation has profoundly affected the corporate travel industry, saving costs and stimulating growth potential. Automation reduces mundane and repetitive tasks—and improves accuracy.
An effective travel policy provides a solid foundation for any organization by ensuring service continuity, efficient processes, managing costs, and streamlining employee procedures.
For 30 years, Cornerstone has provided the tools and services behind the scenes of millions of automated bookings for the biggest brands in the industry. Our technology helps you configure workflow and services that deliver measurable savings and insights to manage your travel program and operations.
Cornerstone is a technology and service provider of mid and back-office automation for the travel industry. We work with travel management companies, online travel agencies, corporate travel departments, and suppliers to help them automate travel operations and programs. Our mission is to provide the platform and tools that automate what results in accurately completed and transacted travel reservations for travelers, their buyers, and travel service providers. Contact Cornerstone today to learn more.