How to prevent out-of-contract travel bookings

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How to prevent out-of-contract travel bookings

Travel Policy

iStock-541113988-SOut-of-contract travel bookings are costly, lack visibility, and prevent your organisational duty of care responsibilities being fulfilled properly – so what can you do to prevent them?

Out-of-contract travel bookings are a major headache for travel managers: bypassing carefully negotiated contracts and making it impossible to track travel costs effectively.

It’s also a worry because non-authorised spend, and its lack of visibility, prevents the organisation meeting its duty of care obligations effectively.



How can you prevent out-of-contract travel bookings?

The first step to tackling out-of-contract travel bookings is to understand why they are happening. Is traveller friction and dissatisfaction with existing policy driving non-compliance?

Where is non-compliance happening?  Are there a few repeat offenders who have personal issues that are driving non-compliance?  If so, perhaps HR needs to be involved.

Or is there a particular department where leakage is concentrated?  Does that manager need to see how his team’s non-compliance is affecting his department’s profit margins?  Or does he need support to educate staff about existing policies?

Persistent and widespread leakage is the sign of an underlying problem in your travel policies – is it time to review policies universally so they reduce traveller friction and boost compliance?


Here are a few ideas to minimise leakage:


Understand and address employee concerns or dissatisfaction with your approved channel(s)

Instituting a mechanism for regular feedback about travel policies, travel experiences and your travel management company (TMC) is a great way to understand why leakage is happening.


Educate all staff of your travel policy

Educating staff about the policy needs to include training on any systems they will need to use, as well as an explanation of why the policies are as they are, and the cost to the business – and themselves – of non-compliance.


Simplify policies for internal communication

Your policies need to be clearly defined and simple for employees to understand.  While you might want to work with your TMC to create flexible parameters for the policies’ application, these intricacies don’t need to be communicated to staff: keep it simple so everyone knows where they stand. You won’t receive complaints about your TMC offering greater flexibility than the policy promises.


Promote and incentivise compliance

Incentivising compliance doesn’t have to mean high-tech apps and gamification – it can be as simple as a ‘thank you’ from a manager. Choose the approach which works within your organisational culture.


Identify and disincentivise non-compliance

Be careful before you start naming and shaming non-compliers if you haven’t first sought to understand the possible personal circumstances which are driving that individual’s non-compliance. Can you work to resolve issues together before resorting to written warnings or publishing league tables?


Demonstrate what non-compliance means to the organisation

Don’t only focus on the financial implications; show what it would mean in terms of lack of support in the event of an emergency or concerns over staff’s exact location for managers.


Remind all staff regularly what the policies are

Educating staff as to the organisation’s travel policy isn’t a one-off activity; staff need to be reminded regularly what the rules are, why they are like that, and the cost of non-compliance.


However, the single most important solution to out-of-contract travel booking is to make it easier and more attractive for travellers to book through your approved channels than anywhere else. To do this, you need to understand what travellers like about their non-compliant channels and don’t like about your approved channels.

Working with a TMC that offers flexible solutions for travellers, so they can book what, when and how they want and still remain compliant and in-contract is vital. Not every traveller will want the same thing; so building flexibility into the system is a must if you are going to minimise leakage.

This might be as simple as offering travellers the choice of personal assistance when booking as well as the ability to book through a convenient travel app. Or adapting the variety of hotels that make it onto the “approved” list.

By understanding traveller’s needs and preferences, you can create a policy and choose a TMC that makes it far less likely for travellers to book out of contract.


Need help adapting your travel policies or understanding patterns of non-compliance?  Speak to your Travel Counsellor for more advice.

Give us a call on +44 (0) 161 464 5350 or fill in the form below and let us call you back.