Once you’re familiar with the three corporate travel program policy types – mandated, flexible, and hybrid – it’s time to decide what comes next. Do you need to make changes, and if so, what are the corporate travel policy best practices you should follow?
Before diving headfirst into policy changes, let’s 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 leaders 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).
Without a well-prepared policy, you run the risk of traveling employees taking matters into their own hands, which could create expense management issues or even put your travelers in danger. That's why you need a corporate travel policy in place no matter how large or small your business is.
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.
Once you have a program in place, it's critical to go back over it at least once a year to see if you need to make updates to your program. You might also need to update it if market conditions change or an event that affects business travel expenses occurs.
5 Corporate Travel Policy Best Practices to Follow When Updating Your Program
Any good corporate travel policy should be regularly updated to ensure that the program is meeting the needs of your business travelers and your business itself. The travel landscape changes just like every other industry, and any good travel manager should make it a priority to stay on top of those changes.
Here are five important corporate travel policy best practices to follow when updating your policy.
1. 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.
2. “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.
3. Consider the Benefits of Data Capture Before Finalizing Your Travel Policy
With modern data capture tools like Traxo, you can capture all business travel data from Travel Management Companies (TMCs) 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, among other benefits.
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 corporate 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, the same way you can see real-time transaction details in your personal bank account or credit card. Say goodbye to 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.
4. 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 without adversely affecting travel cost.
5. Additional Requirements for a Successful Corporate Travel Policy Update
Keep in mind that executive support, change management, and the need for traveler education follow any programmatic change. These are 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 and help them understand why the changes are necessary, how they will address organizational needs, and keep their focus on traveler behavior, satisfaction, and safety. When travelers understand the impact the travel policy has on the company and their colleagues, travel policy compliance improves.
Data Visibility — The New Non-Negotiable Travel Management Asset
In order to make an excellent company travel policy and realize some of the cost savings we’ve outlined here (and more), data visibility is a must. It’s difficult to make truly impactful changes to your program without insight into how your current one is functioning.
When travel managers and procurement professionals embrace an omnichannel approach to data aggregation, organizations gain access to all-inclusive travel insights that support all policy types. Contact Traxo today to learn more.