All types of companies need a comprehensive travel policy — mid-size and large businesses, and especially corporations. But, once you get started on creating a travel policy, you begin to realize just how daunting a task it can be. But don’t be discouraged.
A travel policy is essential for avoiding trips that shouldn’t be taken, managing travel-related expenses, as well as limiting liability and risk while your employees are on the road. Here’s a look at how to approach the creation of a corporate travel policy.
Get the Right Team Members Involved
Travel isn’t the sole responsibility of human resources or any other department. Travel impacts multiple teams, and each should be represented as you start to think through your travel policy. Make sure to include:
- Leadership: Executives don’t need to be part of every meeting, but they need to be kept in the loop about what direction you’re heading. Without leadership’s support and endorsement, implementing and enforcing a new travel policy will be exponentially more difficult.
- Human Resources: Many companies place business travel in the hands of human resources. In fact, at many corporations, it’s human resources that would lead the creation of a travel policy.
- Operations: If any of your executive leaders should be involved in the details of you travel policy it should be the chief operating officer. The COO will understand how travel works across all departments and how it affects and influences employees and decision-making. His or her view into business travel will be highly valuable.
- Finance: Finance should be involved for one simple reason — controlling costs is typically the No. 1 goal in creating a travel policy. Business travel can be a significant part of the annual budget, and a strong travel policy can in turn capture significant savings.
- An Outside Expert: An agency that focuses on business travel can be an invaluable source of information and expertise as your group works on a travel policy. At JTB Business Travel, we regularly help companies develop travel policies that match their unique needs.
Identify Your Priorities
Once you have the committee that will create the actual policy, it’s time to narrow down your goals and objectives to just a few priorities.
Perhaps you want to reduce travel overall, replacing some trips with calls or web-based meetings. Perhaps you want to begin booking further in advance to secure better fares and rates. Or perhaps you want to shorten the time between the filing of expense reports and reimbursement.
The bottom line: When you involve the right people, the points of pain in business travel will become apparent during initial conversations. Turn those points of pain into priorities that will drive your travel policy.
Know Where You Currently Stand
Put some numbers behind your discussion. It’s not enough to feel as though the company is spending too much on travel. It’s not enough to feel as though too many people are out of the office too often. And it’s not enough to feel like it takes too long for reimbursements to go through.
Finance can help provide the actual numbers behind business travel. Human resources or operations may be able to track the number of days employees spend on the road. And a little bit of research should help you compare your expense turnaround time to industry averages.
The numbers should also go beyond simply how much is spent on airfare, hotels and rental cars. On average, 45% of travel costs go unmanaged. How do your travel costs compare to this industry standard? Remember also that a 5% savings in real costs is the same as a 30% growth in sales for your company. If your travel policy can help manage previously unmanaged costs and translate them into savings, the impact on the bottom line is significant.
Cover the Essentials
During the creation process, you’re going to uncover tons of information — and it’s tempting to translate all of that information into your travel policy. But a hefty, hard-to-digest policy doesn’t do your team any favors. Stick to the essentials, and streamline your policy document as much as possible.
What exactly should a final travel policy include? Cover each aspect of the travel process: trip booking, payment methods, expense reporting and expense reimbursement. You’ll also want to cover each key expense category to manage spend: air, hotel, rail, taxi, rental cars and food.
Before you publish your travel policy, consider all of the decisions your travelers must make on business trips. They will be confronted with choices about bag fees, seat fees, in-flight Wi-Fi, meal prices and more. Your travel policy should anticipate these options — and help your team members make the right decisions.
Take a Common Sense Approach to Business Travel
The right business travel agency can make a world of difference as you create your policy. At JTB USA Business Travel, we offer a common sense approach to business travel that makes cost control, reporting and traveler satisfaction as simple as possible. We offer the tools, experience and knowledge needed to ensure that your travel policy creates the impact you desire.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help as your business travel agency.