The Importance of Corporate Travel Policies
Does your company have a written, cohesive travel policy? Is the policy up to date? Does it address the needs of contemporary corporate travelers? These are key questions to answer if you’re a business owner or manager who is looking to create or update a company travel policy. We know that orchestrating travel arrangements, managing costs, and staying compliant can be tricky. But fear not! We have everything you need to know about company travel policies including some tips and tricks for creating or updating your corporate travel policy.
Travel policies are multifaceted, benefiting staff and the company as a whole. For travel managers, administrators, and decision-makers, a company travel policy helps ensure cost control, compliance, and streamlined processes. It provides a framework for managing business travel effectively. For employees, it offers clarity on expectations, reimbursement procedures, and measures to ensure their safety and well-being while they are traveling for business purposes. A good company travel policy makes travel arrangements straightforward for employees, saves the company money, and makes managing travel easier.
The Purpose of a Company Travel Policy
Reduce Travel-Related Expenses
Perhaps the number 1 reason to keep a travel policy in writing is to cut business costs. The travel booking process can be difficult and the biggest area where companies are spending money they don’t have to. A good corporate travel policy helps narrow the travel booking choices for employees at your company, which makes travel much easier. With a focused list of hotels, preferred airlines, and other travel agreements, employees can reduce the amount of time it takes to plan a trip.
These predetermined options also allow for establishing travel agreements and contracts with airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and other vendors, allowing companies to offer reduced rates to their employees. By consolidating travel options and enforcing specific booking channels or preferred providers, companies can secure better rates, discounts, and additional benefits, ultimately maximizing your travel budget.
Keep the Travel Booking Process Consistent and Compliant
A well-written and clear company travel policy helps to ensure that everyone follows the same travel requirements, no matter their position in your business which promotes fairness and transparency across the organization. Having a standardized travel policy also provides clarity to prevent unnecessary additional expenses while traveling and promotes efficiency reducing the number of corporate travel questions over time and making your staff more self-sufficient.
By making your travel expense and booking policy accessible, understandable, and consistent for everyone in the company, you can simplify the corporate travel experience for employees while being confident all booking is compliant and cost-effective. Having a travel policy streamlines the travel booking and reimbursement processes. It provides clarity on the steps employees should follow to request and approve travel, submit expense reports, and seek reimbursement, reducing administrative burden and ensuring efficient workflow.
Commit to the Well-Being and Safety of Your Employees
Your employees are important, so show them you care. A company travel policy should establish a strong duty of care towards your employees, proving your commitment to their safety and well-being while on a business trip. Incorporating travel insurance, medical coverage, emergency protocols, and other proactive measures ensures that your employees feel protected and supported during their business travels, whether they are going to the next town over or across the world for international business trips.
Emergency protocols are extremely important for everything from natural disasters to medical evacuations. A comprehensive corporate travel policy also helps identify potential risks, such as security concerns or trip interruption of day-to-day travel. It enables your company to put preventive measures in place and address risks head-on so you can reduce the likelihood of more significant issues and create a safer travel experience for your employees.
Financial control and reporting
A corporate travel policy facilitates financial control and reporting. All of your business expenses can be properly tracked, analyzed, and reported on, allowing you to effectively manage your travel budget, organize travel reimbursement and maintain accurate financial records.
Compliance with legal and tax regulations
We know that legal and tax regulations can be tricky with corporate travel. A well-structured travel policy can help! By aligning your travel arrangements and related expense reporting with relevant laws, you can reduce the risk of non-compliance and potential financial penalties. An enforced travel policy that properly addresses legal and tax concerns upfront, will reduce the likelihood of violations throughout corporate travel booking.
What should be included in a company travel policy?
Authorization and Approval Processes
Define the process employees must follow to obtain approval for business travel, including who has the authority to grant approval and any required documentation.
Booking and Travel Arrangement Processes
Specify the preferred methods for booking travel, such as using designated travel agencies or online booking tools (OBTs). Include guidelines for transportation, accommodation, and other travel arrangements, such as rental cars or conference registrations.
Travel Expense Guidelines
Clearly outline the types of travel costs that are eligible for reimbursement, including lodging, meals, and transportation costs. Specify any limitations or caps on specific expense categories, as well as any required documentation for reimbursement.
Personal Expenses & Reimbursements
Determine the approach to reimbursing personal expenses while traveling such as meal and entertainment expenses. Your company may provide a per diem allowance or follow specific meal rate guidelines. Clearly state the limits and requirements for meals, entertainment, or other reimbursement.
Travel Expense Reimbursement
Outline the process for submitting expense reports and seeking reimbursement. Include guidelines for required receipts, timelines for submission, and any approval workflows involved in the reimbursement process. If your employees use a corporate credit card, outline approved purchases and a plan to monitor these expenses.
Travel & Health Insurance
Address whether employees are required to have travel insurance or medical insurance and if so, specify the coverage requirements. Include information on how to access insurance and procedures for filing claims in case of emergencies or incidents. Some companies may offer health or travel insurance plans for employees, and if your company does, make sure you outline the process of obtaining this coverage, and what is exactly covered.
Travel Safety and Security
Provide guidelines on employee safety during travel, including recommendations for selecting secure accommodations, handling personal belongings, and accessing emergency assistance. Specify any mandatory safety training or precautions employees should follow.
Specify the required documentation for business travel, such as passports, visas, or any company-specific travel forms. Whether your company travels domestically or to foreign countries, your employees are likely to need documents. Make sure to include guidelines for keeping copies of important documents and maintaining records for audit purposes as well as outline what documents employees may need depending on the type of trip.
Travel Policy Violations and Consequences
Clearly state the consequences of policy violations, such as unauthorized bookings or excessive expenses. Define the disciplinary actions that may be taken in case of non-compliance with the travel policy.
Corporate Travel Policies Tips and Tricks
Involve Relevant Stakeholders
By involving all relevant stakeholders, including executives, finance, human resources, and travel employees, you ensure that all requirements and guidelines are approved, acknowledged by higher-ups, and comprehensive.
Keep it Clear and Concise
Outline exactly what you need in the policy without adding fluff or extra language, ensuring that it is clear and easy to read for your employees. Long-winded policies are harder to read, harder to follow, and almost impossible to remember. Short and sweet is best!
Communicate and Educate
Don’t generalize or assume that any part of the policy is understood without outlining it in the policy. Make sure you walk through important topics as well as explain the importance of each.
Emphasize Compliance and Accountability
Emphasize that this policy is a regulation and must be followed exactly. It’s easy for employees to use their frequent flyer miles rather than a book with compliant and approved vendors. So, outline a process for accountability.
Provide Examples and Guidelines
The easiest way to learn is through examples. Use examples to make each part of your policy clear for your business travelers.
Consider Different Travel Scenarios
Travel can be unpredictable. Consider different scenarios, even outside of travel arrangements that your company currently uses. A well-written travel policy should be able to adapt as the company grows and changes. Dividing the travel document into sections by type of travel makes it easier for your employees to scan and follow. For example, what are the options for ground transportation if employees are unable to take a plane? Will your company cover public transportation? Who are the preferred international travel vendors? Make sure your policy exhausts all types of travel.
Allow Flexibility within Limits
Options and flexibility will make all the difference when employees are looking to comply with your travel policy. By ensuring that they have options you reduce pushback and improve employee morale.
Stay up to date with Industry Trends & Meet the Needs of Modern Travelers
Stay up to date with industry trends to accommodate and adapt to costs, technology opportunities, and other factors that may inhibit the effectiveness of your travel policy. Your travel policy must address contemporary travel options such as app-based taxi services (e.g. Uber and Lyft), and app-based home and condo rentals (e.g. Airbnb and Vrbo)options.
Technology such as online travel booking platforms can benefit your company tremendously, reducing the administrative work for corporate travel managers. With an online booking tool (OBT) in place, it’s less likely that your employees will deviate from policy.
Seek Feedback and Make Continuous Improvements
Establish a process for periodically reviewing and updating the travel policy to reflect changing business needs, industry standards, or legal requirements. Encourage feedback from employees to improve the policy over time.
Make your Policy Accessible to Everyone in Your Company
When the corporate travel policy is written, make it accessible for everyone in your company — from executives to support staff — and everyone in between. Offer training and hold staff meetings to help ensure that the policy is accepted and followed and offer ways for everyone to receive additional information if needed.
Company travel policies play a crucial role in optimizing corporate travel management for travel managers. These policies ensure cost control, compliance with regulations, and streamlined processes by establishing clear guidelines. However, navigating the complexities of corporate travel policies can be challenging. That’s where the expertise of a trusted corporate travel agency like Teplis Travel can make all the difference. With our industry knowledge, technology solutions, and personalized service, they can help you design and implement a tailored travel policy that aligns with your company’s needs. From negotiating better rates and managing bookings to providing 24/7 support and traveler safety solutions, Teplis Travel is your trusted partner in optimizing your corporate travel program. Take the next step in enhancing your company’s travel policy by reaching out to Teplis Travel today. Discover how their expertise can unlock the full potential of your corporate travel program.