At a small or mid-sized business, travel policy utilization is vital to ensure business needs are met while controlling costs. How can you improve travel policy adoption if this is an area where you’re currently struggling as a Travel Manager?
Here are six tips for keeping your teams compliant — and your business travel budget in check as a result.
1. Consider your company’s and employees’ current needs.
Before you just implement any travel policy, really consider how your policy serves your traveling employees. After all, why would team members be incentivized to adopt and utilize a travel policy if it doesn’t meet their existing needs, now?
Of course, it’s worth noting that the business travel landscape has changed quite a bit since 2020. That means your employees may have different business travel-related needs now than they might have several years ago. Your travel policy from the 2010s may no longer be a perfect fit.
Reevaluate existing policies and consider what changes might be beneficial. Many SMEs are already doing this, so if you haven’t, you may be behind the pack. As one GBTA survey reported in 2021, at that time, already, more than 50% of survey respondents said they were developing plans for updated travel policies and new resources for travelers, as they geared up to resume business travel post-lockdown.
2. Get your employees’ input.
As you update travel policies, actively ask your employees what they like or dislike about the current travel policy. Their opinions are invaluable. If you can know why you’re struggling to improve travel policy adoption, you can (likely) fix the problem. Maybe they need more flexibility. Maybe the current processes and systems are just too laborious or time-intensive, during a period when burnout is increasingly common among employees.
3. Offer the right training and the right info.
Whether or not you decide to redraft your existing travel policy, if you want to improve travel policy adoption, you need to be sure that your employees actually understand the policy. Perhaps it’s time for a refresh and some extra training. Maybe newer team members never received the training that they should’ve, because that part of the onboarding process was just overlooked.
Whatever the case may be, strive to ensure all employees thoroughly understand your company’s travel policy, so that they can then utilize that policy. Make it clear that the company’s Travel Managers are available and happy to answer any compliance questions that arise. Think ahead about questions that might pop up and then go ahead and answer them via helpful informational resources distributed to relevant team members.
Education is everything.
4. Consider how new technology can improve travel policy adoption.
If your existing mode of business travel booking and policies are a little on the ancient side (which can happen at any business; a policy is put in place and then, suddenly, ten or twenty years have passed and no one’s bothered to make an update), then it might be time to consider how you can use the latest tech to switch up how your team travels.
In 2019, an Entrepreneur article was already exploring how SMEs in Asia could use AI tech to streamline all the ins and outs of business travel, from automating compliance monitoring to overseeing trip bookings and expense claims. At the time, AI could already serve up the best booking options based on past company bookings and automate the booking, travel and expense-recording processes — so just imagine what it could do now, four years later.
There is a wealth of handy tools currently out there, using the latest and greatest tech to make the travel processes easier for every employee. For example, with Concur, you can automate spending processes. With Deem and Etta, intuitive and intelligent features allow for easier, safer, more eco-friendly travel booking for employees who prefer to book their own travel while on the go.
Look into your options with the help of a TMC. And on that note…
5. Choose your travel management company carefully.
If you choose to work with a travel management company, it’s oh-so-important that you work with a travel management company that provides solutions that serve your traveling team members, rather than just stressing them out. As you shop for a TMC partner, consider a few things…
- Will this travel management system be easy to implement? Will employees be able to make a seamless switch from current protocols?
- Will this system provide the support employees need, easily?
- Will this system add extra unnecessary tasks to employees’ plates?
The best way to improve travel policy adoption is to make it easy, so avoid TMCs that are going to make that adoption more difficult.
Some partners, like JTB Business Travel, make things even easier for clients, through amenities such as the IKOH by JTB Business Travel app. This free app allows clients access to a range of features such as OBT integration, itinerary management, live customer service, location and itinerary sharing, and more.
6. Examine existing enforcement.
Lastly, examine how your company currently enforces its travel policy. In the end, you may have an amazing policy with amazing amenities and benefits for your team members, but there’s just not a lot of enforcement. Managers and decision-makers should actively enforce compliance and address the matter when non-compliance occurs. Your employees should understand that compliance is not an option and if they’re having difficulties complying to the company travel policy, it’s something that they should bring to their Travel Manager as a concern.
Need more help?
If you continue to struggle to improve travel policy adoption, consider talking with a member of the JTB Business Travel team, and see how our wealth of technologies and innovative services are creating superior travel experiences for numerous companies and their employees. From travelers to Travel Managers and executives, we’re here to assist your team during every step of the journey.