Whether you’re working from a sample policy, customizing it to fit your business, or updating your company’s older document to align with new travel practices and technologies, you’ll need to know what should be included. In this article, we’ll present today’s travel and expense policy best practices with an eye towards 2020 industry trends.
What Should Be Included in a T&E Policy? 2020 Travel Policy Best Practices
Your travel policy is the engine that powers everything related to your travel management process. Your policy should clearly define your values and processes as an organization; ensuring that the company is the driver of your overall travel program and related costs, not the traveler. However, company culture and the inconveniences of travel should be considered when writing your policy guidelines to guarantee your travelers are also taken care of commensurate with job status and travel requirements.
T&E is the second largest controllable cost for the average U.S. organization and your travel policy can be a tremendous advantage in today’s competitive business environment. Developing a corporate travel policy that reduces liabilities, supports corporate travel cost savings, clarifies procedures, delivers useful information, and embraces employees’ needs will help give you an edge over your competitors.
If you’d like an in-depth guide to creating or updating your own travel policy, you can download our Travel Policy Workbook here.
Beyond the basics of when and how employees should book travel, there are important inclusions for a corporate travel policy in the 2020s. These new trends in business travel reflect the latest advances in internet technology and changes in how professionals approach business travel. In tandem with these traveler-centric requirements, are longstanding company objectives of minimizing travel costs and maximizing return.
The Top 2020 Trends That Affect Travel Policy
A company’s travel policy does far more than just provide information to employees about corporate travel booking. Increasingly, more businesses are examining how company policies impact the experience of the business traveler. Considerations in 2020 and beyond include the ability to combine leisure activities with work and better integration with traveler preferences in online reservation apps, airlines, accommodations and loyalty programs.
Travel policies should clearly present easy-to-follow instructions on when and how to book travel, travel class (economy, business), hotel standard, how to pay and how to claim expenses. The company travel policy is becoming more streamlined and concise to encourage greater compliance.
Greater Choices and Flexibility
Today’s business travelers want more flexibility around their company trips. With the ability to compare providers and choose flight class (i.e. economy for daytime travel, business class for night flights), employees have become accustomed to having these choices presented to them. By working with a travel management company, you can customize your online booking tool so that it not only gives more choices to travelers, but also guides them towards the most compliant options and seamlessly integrates the travel policy so that travelers don’t have to try to remember what is allowed and what is not.
Traveling for business can be a stressful experience, which is why incorporating wellness while on the road is an important addition to the travel policy. Making it possible for employees to maintain their health regimen keeps them productive and helps boost employee retention.
A shift in the demographics of corporate business travelers is driving the changing trends in travel policies. As Millennials and Generation Z professionals take on a larger part of the workforce, a greater emphasis is placed on technology and consumer expectations of self-service and a seamless, integrated experience.
Leveraging the latest technology is a challenge that can pay off in terms of happier travelers and greater cost savings for businesses. This can include adding lodging marketplaces and ride-sharing services as providers, as well as giving travelers more flexibility in accommodations and greater convenience in booking transportation. However, it’s important to make sure that duty of care protocols are in place.
Travel Policy as a Recruitment Tool
A company’s travel program is increasingly seen as an important recruitment and retention tool. In addition to compensation and opportunity for advancement, today’s workers, especially younger employees, may consider a flexible travel program that offers leisure travel and other benefits to be important.
Many people enjoy customer rewards programs or loyalty programs for their favorite brands when purchasing goods and services. Savvy companies are signing on with providers that offer generous rewards to frequent travelers as a special incentive. These rewards also serve as gamification- encouraging your business travelers to choose these brands and remain travel policy compliant.
With greater concern about climate change and the desire to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, sustainable travel is becoming a new trend. This may include methods of transportation, travel class, choice of hotel and “green practices” of partners and suppliers.
More Streamlined Payment and Reimbursement
What is travel expense reimbursement? If an employee pays for a business-related travel expense, such as airfare, a rental car, hotel stay or meals, they are reimbursed by the company for that amount. Rather than carry around receipts, a popular trend is to centralize the travel expense process. This way payment, expense reporting and reimbursement occurs seamlessly, on a user-friendly platform.
Questions to Consider When Creating a Robust Corporate Travel Policy
As you create or refine your travel policy, here are some questions to consider to make sure your policy maximizes cost savings without frustrating your employees.
Company Customization vs. Readability – Customization can often make a travel policy long and complex. How can you add tiers, international travel guidelines, travel wellness sections, VIP policies, sustainability policies, etc., without overwhelming the reader?
Staying Ahead of Rapidly Changing Travel Practices – How often should your travel policy be updated? Given the rapidly changing environment of corporate travel, the smartest option is to have a procedure in place that will allow for frequent updates with minimal effort.
Keeping Your Team Apprised of Changes – How do you communicate changes to your team members? Keeping everyone informed in a timely manner is a key to compliance.
- How to Handle Out-of-Policy Bookings – How can you reduce out-of-policy bookings and boost compliance? This is a common problem, but it’s possible to alleviate the issue by first understanding why out-of-policy bookings occur.
Your Travel Policy Solution
As a leading travel management company, Direct Travel offers comprehensive solutions for business travel, policy development, and enforcement. At Direct Travel, it’s important to us to work closely with you to boost travel policy adoption. The success of corporate travel policy compliance is a measurement of booking behavior against the travel policy. Our travel management experts use a consultative approach to work with you to create a comprehensive plan to manage your business travel policies and procedures, which includes regular compliance analysis. We work with each client to ensure that their travel policy is competitive, drives cost savings and enhances the travel experience.
Contact Direct Travel today to learn more about our professional travel management services.