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Corporate Travel Policy: Best Practices and Benefits

March 11, 2021
A team collaborates at a central desk with a laptop computers and smartphones discussing changes to their corporate travel policy changes.

You’re familiar with the three travel program policy types – mandated, flexible and hybrid – but what comes next? Before diving headfirst into policy changes, take a step back to evaluate the entire change management process, from understanding your travelers’ needs to winning executive approval.

What Is a Corporate Travel Policy?

A corporate travel policy is the set of rules and parameters set by business leadership to manage employees' bookings and spend when visiting clients, prospects, colleagues, and conferences.

A corporate travel policy contains the guidelines defined by business leaders to manage employee travel bookings and spending when traveling for business purposes (e.g., conferences, sales meetings, and internal meetings). 

A well-written corporate travel policy provides guidance for business travelers while helping organizations influence behavior, manage spend, utilize preferred suppliers, and keep travelers safe. Despite the numerous benefits a travel policy provides, travel managers still face policy compliance challenges.

Communicate with Your Travelers Before Making Policy Changes

Before implementing any major policy changes, consider requesting feedback from your business travelers, engaging with your road warriors, and having ad-hoc conversations about what’s working and what’s not. To gather feedback, you can collect survey responses, lead focus groups, and measure your internal “Net Promoter Score” score by asking travelers to rate your program on a scale of 0-10.

Ask your travelers their honest opinions on how they feel the business travel program could improve from its current state. Remember, that which you do not know will only limit your ability to continuously improve your policy and hinder your ability to reach future goals. 

“Mandate” is Not a Bad Word

Program mandates do not need to be seen in a negative light. Instead, focus on the traveler benefits and enhancements that can be made to the program when the company has a 360-degree view of business travel. Enlisting your travelers to help define program goals and inform policy changes builds trust and leads to a better understanding of your program, which in turn fosters improved compliance.

Benefits of Data Capture to Consider Before Finalizing Your Travel Policy:

With modern data capture tools like Traxo, you have an opportunity to capture all business travel data from both TMC and non-TMC sources. By leveraging this data, you can easily identify savings opportunities, make decisions to better manage spend, and engage in more effective supplier negotiations. These are some of the benefits you can expect for your organization once you have a travel data capture solution in place:

  • More Empowered & Satisfied Business Travelers
    We already know your business travelers are going to price shop their favorite booking channels against your preferred booking method. If greater booking flexibility is in alignment with your goals, you can empower your travelers to book through their preferred channels—TMC, OBT, OTA, or supplier-direct—knowing that all data will be captured regardless. No matter where they book, you can still funnel that data to your TMC (if you use one), Duty of Care providers, and re-shopping tools for price assurance. 
  • Enhanced Duty of Care
    Looking beyond the pandemic, Duty of Care should remain a top priority. By accessing all employee booking data immediately after purchase and from any booking source, you have peace of mind knowing that you can pinpoint your business travelers instantly when the unforeseen occurs. Rogue bookings will be captured before the trip (instead of on an expense report), allowing you to locate all business travelers at any time—not just those who booked within your preferred channels. 
  • Improved Travel Management Efficiency
    Instant access to all data increases efficiencies in your monthly, quarterly, and annual reporting processes. Imagine your new reality where all pre-trip spend and itineraries are captured as bookings occur, from any source—just like you can see real-time transaction details in your personal bank account or credit card. No more manual reconciliation of reports, receipts, and credit card statements. 
  • Increased Traveler Trust and Satisfaction
    Empowering employees with more booking flexibility increases trust, while still providing tools to verify they’re spending company dollars appropriately. With pre-trip insights you can correct policy violations before they occur, enabling employees to re-book within policy before the trip begins. With increased visibility, you can continue to improve your program to increase traveler satisfaction and meet the growing demands of your company without compromising on the overall budget.
  • Realize New Saving Opportunities
    One key benefit to an omnichannel program strategy is the improved alignment of costs to the booking channel. Giving employees the flexibility to book simple trips with their preferred airlines or hotels means you avoid costly TMC booking and support fees—do you really need to pay $10-$25 in fees for a simple round trip flight and hotel stay, when employees could book directly with suppliers without any fees?  Additionally, Traxo’s pre-trip data capture enables trips to be re-shopped for additional potential discounts, unlocking an average savings of 6% for hotel bookings. 

Provide Travelers with the Resources Required for Smart Decision-Making

Regardless of the type of travel program you end up with – strictly mandated, hybrid, or fully flexible, having a one-stop resource for travel policies, guidelines, and time-sensitive updates will enable travelers to be more self-sufficient. Make your policy easily accessible, with interactive support channels so questions can be answered quickly and clearly and updates shared regularly. Using channels like Slack or Teams, or creating internal communities for employees to share recommendations, tips, and policy information can be highly effective ways to modernize engagement with your program.

Additional Requirements for a Successful Policy Update:

Keep in mind that executive support, change management, and the need for traveler education follow any programmatic change. These are important key factors that should not be sidelined during a policy revision.  

By emphasizing traveler education, you have an opportunity to inform and enlighten your travelers to understand why the changes are necessary, how they will address the organizational needs, and to focus on traveler behavior, satisfaction, and safety. When travelers understand the impact the travel policy has on the company and their colleagues, program compliance improves.

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