Putting together your company’s travel policy for the year ahead? Striking the right balance between keeping costs in line with your budget and ensuring your employees stay satisfied can be a tricky task. Luckily, we’re here to assist with the following pointers on what to do and what not to do when creating or updating your existing business travel program.
When planning your travel policy:
Do try to negotiate rates with hotels
If your employees frequently travel to the same city for work, it can be worth building up a relationship with one or more hotels in the area. If you give them regular custom, you may be able to negotiate a reduced rate which can help lower your overall travel spend in the long run.
Don’t sacrifice comfort by cutting costs
It can be tempting to save your business money by making your employees purchase the cheapest airline seats available or booking them into hotels which are inexpensive but not very convenient.
While funding first-class flights is bound to rack up a small fortune over time, it’s important to remember that your staff need to be comfortable and well rested in order to perform at their best. If you can only afford economy or premium economy flights within your business travel policy, cover the cost of seat reservations so your employees don’t get placed in uncomfortable middle seats.
The same goes for hotels. It’s often worth booking a more expensive accommodation option closer to a meeting or conference location to prevent employees from having to commute and spend extra money on public transport or taxis.
Do encourage managers to review travel requests quickly
If managers in charge of approving travel requests are slow to respond, it can often make travel costs more expensive. Air fares and train travel in particular are usually much cheaper the further you book in advance. It’s worth having a dedicated policy in place with managers where they have to review requests within a certain timeframe.
Don’t forget to cap spend allowance for food and drinks
To avoid reimbursing your employees exorbitant amounts of cash when they return from a business trip, place a daily cap on what they’re allowed to spend using company funds. Make sure it’s a reasonable amount which will sufficiently cover all necessary costs and also reflect the prices of the location they’re travelling to.
The same applies to entertainment budgets for clients. While this can be a necessary part of business travel, it should be managed well with any restrictions clearly defined on your travel policy.
Do consider tracking all expenses electronically
Having an automated online system for tracking employee expenses during business trips can be very efficient and allow you to review or audit your overall travel budget more easily. A system which allows you to track what staff are spending and enables them to apply for reimbursements is a great solution.
When it comes to the policy itself:
Don’t just give employees a print out
Avoid enforcing your new travel policy by only handing each employee a hard copy. Paper copies can get lost or damaged, making it much harder for people to refer back to the policy. Instead, send it out in an email and upload it somewhere prominent on your company intranet so your employees can look at it as and when they need to.
Do write it clearly and concisely
Make sure your travel policy is direct and easy to understand, with no room for misinterpretation. Employees should be able to see exactly what they’re entitled to as part of your travel policy and what the consequences – if any – might be if they don’t comply.
Don’t forget to review your travel policy annually
A lot of factors can change in a year, from your travel budget to your employee numbers, or simply the rate of inflation. Once a year, go back through your company travel policy and make sure it’s still suitable and relevant for the year ahead.
If you’re struggling to come up with an effective policy for your company, get in touch with us at Travel Leaders 365 to see how we can help you create a travel program that’s completely unique to your business.