Building A Solid Corporate Travel Policy

In 2020, millennial employees accounted for nearly half of global business travel spending. As modern workforce demographics change so should policies and expectations of companies and employees. To keep up with the transition into a millennial-led market, it’s important to reflect and adapt accordingly – and that includes corporate travel policies.

Challenges Presented by a Poor Travel Policy

Even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are bound to be challenges with following or creating a corporate travel procedure.

For instance, many employees choose to handle the details of a corporate trip without consulting HR. In fact, about 72% of companies struggle to maintain compliance with their travel policies. This may be because the existing travel policy is too difficult to understand or cumbersome to use, causing workers to book outside of it. A straightforward, common sense travel policy could help mitigate compliance issues and bring harmony back to your office.

Components of a Good Policy

A good travel policy doesn’t just cover plane tickets, hotels and rental cars. It protects employees when they’re away from the office on company time. When done correctly, a good travel policy should create a streamlined procedure to reduce travel expenses and limit liabilities.

To build a solid corporate travel policy, include the following: 

  • A simple travel request process
  • Multiple booking tools and options
  • A clear budget for hotels, flights and ground transportation
  • A list of company vendors
  • Security materials and safety procedures
  • Reimbursement policies
  • A list of acceptable and unacceptable expenses
  • Travel insurance and responsibilities

One of the most important aspects of a successful policy is checking all the regulations pertaining to drug and alcohol. Going against these regulations can directly impact public safety. So, it is important to get employees trained on all the necessary DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations before they start off on a business trip.

Be clear about what is expected of the employee as well as what can be expected of the company. Make sure there is an accessible list of expenses that can be reimbursed; lodging and entertainment guidelines; and resources regarding insurance and itinerary.

You should update your travel policy periodically to reflect the global climate and employee demands. Including services such as Uber and Airbnb in your policies may make employees more likely to follow the guidelines. Depending on the company culture, it might be helpful to keep engagement levels, staff satisfaction and performance high.

Some employees might not even know the current travel policy exists. Whether it’s with a printed document, email reminders or a page in the handbook, effective communication is important to outline your travel process and make sure associates are aware of it. Without proper education, employees may breach the policies by accident – which could cost the company big time.

How A Good Policy Helps Employees

Booking a business trip can be a frustrating process if you’re starting from scratch. However, a clearly stated travel policy can have positive effects for a company and its employees. On a company-wide scale, safety should be the number one priority. Additionally, a good travel policy should reduce unexpected expenses and create a specific guideline to prevent accidents and overdrawn accounts. Tension over expenses and reimbursements may be reduced if these processes are outlined in the initial policy.

As for travelers, following a company travel policy promotes fairness and ease for business trips. It can limit the hassles of booking flights, hotels and ground transportation, and it can help keep employees safe. Because transportation and housing accommodations are approved and documented by HR, employees can rest assured they are in a safe environment while traveling for their employer.

Ultimately, a strong corporate travel policy should be easy to understand and straightforward to use. Communicating with employees about their preferences could help determine your company’s flexibility. Even if a policy looks great on paper, remember that it must work well in reality. Once your travel policy is in motion, you should be able to improve business goals and keep employees’ satisfaction and loyalty.

AUTHOR BIO: Todd DeSimone has been General Manager at Planemasters since 2000. Based in West Chicago, IL, Planemasters has been the industry leader in charter flight operations for more than 30 years.