Amber Warning: How to Identify Problems with your Business Travel Policy
Successful travel managers understand the importance of having a robust business travel policy in place. Not only will a policy help manage expected travel costs, but it will also help keep travellers safe and clearly define what is and is not acceptable when on a business trip.
But is your policy working for or against you and how can you identify problems before they become too serious to handle? One great way to see if the policy is working correctly is to delve in to the underlying data.
Data should always be your first point of call to check the health of your policy but, be honest, when was the last time you checked your travellers’ expense claims against the company policy? Are they flying in the correct class or staying in the preferred hotel? If they are not, then this could be an indicator of wider problems with the policy.
Once you have the evidence, ask your travellers why they are not following the correct procedure. Their answer will usually fall in to one of the following scenarios and will help you identify the steps to take to put things right.
“I didn’t know there was a policy.”
This could be a sign that there is poor visibility of the policy across the whole business. If the policy is just a link buried somewhere on the intranet, then long time staff may have simply forgotten about it and new starters may have never even been told that it exists in the first place.
Increase the visibility of your travel policy by relaunching it to all staff and making sure it is included in the new staff induction procedure.
“I didn’t understand the policy.”
Your policy should be written in clear, concise language and be easy to comprehend. It’s also imperative that the policy has a purpose and fits in with the wider company objectives. This will help travellers understand the reasons behind some of the decisions in the document.
Create a feedback channel where travellers can ask questions and compile these in to a F.A.Q. document.
“It’s so out of date I didn’t think we still use it.”
Like any company document, your travel policy should be reviewed regularly. The content may be fine but even including an old company logo or mentioning a supplier that no longer exists is a sure-fire way to date your policy and plant doubt in the traveller’s mind.
Review and update the document if required. Add a diary reminder to check it again in 6 months.
“It was cheaper to travel in Business Class.”
Owing to the way airlines manage their seat availability it can sometimes cost less to travel in a higher class. A good travel policy recognises that this can be the case and should be flexible enough to allow it when beneficial to the company.
Speak to your Travel Management Company. They should be able to confirm when the quoted cost of a particular trip is the lowest and record exceptions to the rules.
“Nobody has ever questioned me about it before.”
For any policy to be respected it is important that it is enforced consistently. If travellers are never confronted about breaking the rules, then what is the incentive to follow them?
Make sure penalties are clearly highlighted within the policy and empower HR or Managers to carry them out. Often a warning that an employee may not be reimbursed for out of policy expenses is enough to ensure compliance on future trips.
By taking a few simple steps to increase the visibility and clarity of your travel policy you can begin to see a real return and start turning potential problems in to solutions. If you need any assistance with updating your policy, please contact your Travel Counsellor. If you don’t already use us, then give us a call or complete the form below.
Give us a call on +44 (0) 161 464 5350 or fill in the form below and let us call you back.