4 Reasons Travelers are Unhappy with Your Corporate Travel Policy and What to Do About It

By Tiffany Mast

It’s not uncommon for employees to avoid their travel policy or complain about it outright. Years of misguided policies copied and pasted from one company to the next have painted corporate travel policies in a less than flattering light.

Fortunately, tech and an emergence of new age travel management companies (TMCs) are modernizing this business pain so policies can work quietly in the background as a support rather than a painful distraction.

When’s the last time your business updated it’s corporate travel policy? If it’s been awhile and you get the sense your employees are unhappy with it, here are four reasons your policy may be falling short and what you can do about them.

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Inventory Limitations

Usually the first push back managers receive when a policy is put in place is about inventory. Your employees already have their favorite airline and hotels, and policies tend to make them fearful that they’ll no longer have the freedom to fly the way they like to or stay where they’re comfortable.

Listen to your travelers concerns. Ideally, your policy should be supporting traveler comfort so your employees stay happy and productive on the road.

Take a look at your current policy and audit the limitations imposed. Are employees required to fly a preferred carrier? Do they have to stay at a certain hotel? If so, a policy like that causes issues with employees for a few reasons. First, it’s so granular it may make booking, and compliance, more work than it should be. Second, travel costs fluctuate greatly so limiting inventory options could actually end up costing your company more.

To address this concern, you’ll also need a great booking tool. Look for a booking platform that integrates with a global distribution system (GDS) for a wide variety of inventory, but also check whether your business will get access to things like exclusive rates and the Next Generation Storefront (NGS). Better rates will allow employees more flexibility when choosing who to book with and the NGS is a booking experience that better educates buyers on the airfare type they are selecting so your employees can pick a ticket and airline that best suites their trip needs.

General Confusion

While your auditing your policy and taking employee feedback, keep an eye out for aspects of your policy that could be causing general confusion. Confusion could be the culprit killing compliance to your policy. As we’ve mentioned before, setting clear standards won’t prevent every possible instance of expense abuse, but it can avoid many misunderstandings.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Is your policy so nuanced that it’s difficult to remember? Is it readily available and easy to reference? Or is it time consuming to hunt down answers?

Sometimes less is more. You could try simplifying things by implementing budget guidelines rather than regulations for each type of booking. Instead of asking employees to remember a dozen bullets they need to comply with, you can focus them in on a single, powerful goal: beat your budget. A good booking tool will be able to calculate an accurate budget based on real time market rates, and highlight that budgeted amount in flight or hotel search results to help guide travelers to book within policy.

Earning Loyalty Points

Similar to the concern of limited inventory, your employees may be up in arms because they’re concerned that your corporate travel policy may prevent them from earning loyalty points and status.

Many business travelers see loyalty points as a perk and being able to earn those points, whether for a personal trip or to upgrade their business travel experience, is important to them. So allowing them to keep their loyalty points is an opportunity to keep your employees satisfied and productive while on the road.

Once you’ve addressed any concerns with the inventory your travelers can book, communicate to employees that they can enroll with travel loyalty programs and keep the points they earn when they book with their preferred airlines and hotels. You may also consider taking it a step further. When your policy is grounded in real time budgets, you can reward employees a portion of the savings when they book under budget. A rewards program like this can work wonders for keeping both your employees and the finance team happy, while saving your company money.

A Sense of Distrust

Possibly the toughest concern is that of trust. If your policy has reached a point where employees feel it is being implemented out of distrust, take a step back. Your policy needs to be addressed, but so may your company culture.

It’s probably time to hear directly from your travel policy’s stakeholders. Hold a meeting or conduct a survey with your frequent business travelers, finance team, human resources team, and executive-level leadership to assess their concerns and motivations.

Getting everyone on the same page will and addressing their various needs will allow you to see where your travel policy (or its implementation) is breaking down and revamp it better align with business goals and the company culture you want to promote.

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