Create and enforce policy
How do you create and, just as importantly, enforce a travel policy? Jo Greenfield shows you how, in seven simple steps
A well-crafted travel policy is at the heart of any successful corporate travel programme, but how can you build a policy that controls spend and steers business towards preferred suppliers, yet give travellers enough flexibility for their trip needs, all at the same time? Furthermore, how do you communicate that policy to make sure it drives proper travel behaviour among employees?
No one likes being told what to do, but a well thought-out, clearly communicated travel policy is the only way to achieve savings on a company’s business travel spend, however large or small. It is also your chance to have a positive impact on your company’s travellers, making them feel valued and well-cared for while away from home on business.
Travel is an emotional issue. You are dealing with people’s lives because they are spending time away from home. Employees don’t care about the type of paperclips their employers buy, but they do care about the type of travel. The best way to create and enforce an effective corporate travel policy is to navigate the seven Cs. Read on for a breakdown of what they are.
STEP 1: Culture. Every company is different, with its own set of values and goals that characterises it. It’s important that a travel policy reflects the industry you are in and the style of corporate language you use. A foreword from a senior board member will help reinforce the policy’s aims of driving savings. Keep the policy concise – ‘Policy on a Page’ is one of the best approaches.
STEP 2: Care. The Corporate Manslaughter Act means that employers are responsible for “any statutory provision dealing with health and matters”, including transport. It sounds daunting, but the best way to ensure Duty of Care towards your travellers is to ensure that your policy works and travellers comply with it. In this way your TMC will have visibility over all of your travellers.
STEP 3: Content. It’s crucial to include all travel elements. Air travel gives you the greatest potential for savings, but also for overspending. Class of travel can be a sore point with travellers so be clear about if and when they can book business class. Hotel rates should include extras such as breakfast and wifi. Rail travel is prone to leakage, so must be included. Ancillaries such as car hire and transfers are cheaper when booked in advance.
STEP 4: Comprehensiveness. The success of a travel policy much depends on it covering absolutely everything: from how to book, approval processes, class of travel, and how many hotel nights are allowed per meeting, to expense allowances, payment methods, advance booking requirements, and travel documentation. If you include all the relevant information as comprehensively as possible, there will be no room for deviation.
STEP 5: Communication. One of the major delays or challenges in implementing a travel policy is communication. Ensure that you have a solid communication plan in place, backed by a senior manager. Your TMC can help with training and conveying the policy to bookers and travellers. Don’t just rely on the staff intranet.
STEP 6: Control. To achieve significant savings, approval processes need to be stringent, clear and manageable. Work in partnership with your TMC to ensure compliance from travellers and bookers. Online booking tools should have the policy built in. For offline, your TMC team can police the policy. You will only make the policy work if you have a plan around how to mandate it. Is it a case of naming and shaming employees who don’t follow the travel policy, or do you refuse to pay expenses if an employee has strayed outside of policy?
STEP 7: Compliance. To ensure success, you need compliance to policy. Use your TMC’s expertise and MI reporting to identify missed savings due to non-compliance. If noncompliance is an ongoing issue, work with your TMC to identify the best plan of action to address the situation. If there is no redress for out-of-policy bookings, your policy has no authority.