Revamp Your Corporate Travel Policy in Under an Hour
TravelBank staffers Angelina Kim and Corey Walker recently presented “Revamp Your Corporate Travel Policy in Under an Hour,” the first in our webinar series. The recording is available and below we’ve covered the highlights.
What Drives a Corporate Travel Policy Revamp?
While the need to reduce costs often triggers a policy revamp, it’s best to take a more holistic approach and strive to generate a flexible policy that’s:
- Easy to implement
- Makes employees happy
- Improves productivity
- Achieves compliance
- … while also saving your company money
Step 1: Tailor a Perfect Fit
Travel policies frequently originate in the finance department with someone downloading a template containing phrases like, “Employees will be reimbursed for reasonable and necessary travel expenses.” This text is problematically vague, resulting in confusion and frustration.
Consider Diverse Stakeholders When You Write a Corporate Travel Policy
Companies often implement one single policy for everyone. Instead, consider various stakeholders with different goals such as:
- Employees who are traveling and focused on their job performance
- Managers who enforce travel policies and control spending
- Finance teams who are tracking and projecting travel spend
- HR whose main concerns are to keep employees happy and recruit others
You may want to create multiple policies, for example candidates who are traveling likely don’t have the same needs as your leadership team. Also identify initial benchmarks. How much is your business currently spending on travel? How much would you like to be spending instead? Why is your team traveling? How quickly do you want to see the impact of changes to your travel program? Starting with these answers can help you design a successful travel policy.
To Save Money, Consider the Full Picture
To reduce costs, be sure employees consider holding meetings remotely, as well as booking far enough in advance. Additionally, be sure to think about the full picture. Road warriors will want to fly the carriers they have status with. While that may be more expensive at times, status results in cost-saving perks such as free baggage, extra legroom, and free food in airport lounges.
Make sure that your approval process is structured in the right way that fits you and your travelers. Strict approvals will increase travelers’ frustrations and can also increase cost to your company. As we all know, airline fares change minute by minute, and hotel availability can also vary.
Step 2: Compliance is King
Once you’ve written a new and improved corporate travel policy, you must get your travelers to comply. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. GBTA found that nearly 70% of travel buyers report that enforcing travel compliance is among the most challenging aspects of their job.
Reward or Punishment?
Your travel tool needs approval flows and auditing capabilities but pairing these more traditional compliance features with incentives like rewards can flip this conversation upside down. Rather than getting stuck in an experience built on negative reinforcement after the fact, you can offer positive reinforcement to drive better behavior. Compliance doesn’t have to be a big, bad thing. Offer perks instead of meting out punishment.
Some organizations are concerned that reward programs just incentivize travelers to take more trips, but that’s usually not the case. Many of the companies we work with are seeing employees striving to beat the budget and booking further in advance.
Step 3. If You Write It, They Won’t Come
Writing the travel policy is definitely not enough. Your employees won’t be actively looking to find it. To complete the circle, you need to take action to get that right tool into the stakeholders’ hands.
It’s All in The Implementation – Go Modern vs. Legacy
There are multiple apps that specialize in travel booking or expense tracking, but many don’t handle the entire process. The necessary multiple integrations and points of contact often result in a frustrating user experience. Additionally, legacy platforms can take over six weeks to implement, whereas a good modern platform could take just days.
Your travel management app should be easy to use and helpful to travelers. Ideally, you can allow anything that’s under budget to be booked seamlessly without delay. Recent studies have shown that 79% of travelers are looking for mobile functionality to support travel and expense management. For example, a mobile chat function is highly desirable and allows travelers to work on travel simultaneously while remaining productive on other tasks.
Finally, submitting expenses for reimbursement should be seamless and painless for employees returning from their trips. With an all-in-one platform that handles travel and expense, you can have a lighter touch for approvals, since control processes happen prior to the purchases.
Tackle the Resistance
Some employees may be resistant to learning a new app. Try to view it as a challenge to win them over. Have a thoughtful communication plan layered on top of your policy. Hold a launch party and make the announcement fun and exciting. Consider bringing in your new provider so they can share their success stories and help onboard your employees, increasing adoption success.