A company’s travel policy is essentially a set of guidelines that its employees must follow when they are on official business trips for the company. These are typically laid out by the company’s travel manager. A corporate travel policy is crucial as it helps control costs and ensures the safety, comfort, and productivity of traveling employees. Investing a proper amount of time and resources into crafting an expansive travel policy can help companies mitigate any hassles that may arise during actual travel.
In this article, we aim to enlighten you with some tips and some of the best practices that you can make use of while creating a travel policy for your company.
Why is Travel Policy Important?
When your employees are supposed to go on a business trip for the company, they will naturally be struck with questions and doubts. Which flights can they book? Where can they stay? Will the company reimburse their expenses? These are all valid questions, which, if not communicated clearly, can lead to a dissatisfying travel experience for both the employee and the employer.
Travel policies set the guidelines that employees must follow. A clear definition of the terms of terms helps all the parties involved in managing their expectations, and allows them to focus on what’s more essential. It ensures that employees’ travel is efficient, cost-effective, and aligned with the organization's goals, while keeping the employee satisfied simultaneously.
A corporate travel policy delivers advantages to both travelers and the company. A corporate travel policy offers travelers the freedom to book within guidelines while prioritizing safety and reducing booking complexities. Simultaneously, it helps the company control travel expenses, improve budget management, and create a fair and cost-efficient work culture.
Best Practices for Creating a Travel Policy
A comprehensive travel policy must contain elements like booking procedure, the corporate travel management tool, the approved flight and hotel class, reimbursements, approval workflows and the like.
Here are some best practices to follow when crafting a travel policy.
Use a Collaborative Approach
A corporate travel policy is going to affect most of the employees, spanning across departments. This makes it essential to make the process of drafting a policy as collaborative as possible, since a closed-door approach is likely to make employees feel alienated. Involving key stakeholders such as HR, finance, and frequent travelers in the policy development process to ensure it meets your organization’s unique needs.
Clearly Communicate the Objectives
Clearly defining the objectives of your corporate travel policy is essential for establishing its purpose and scope. You must explicitly state why the policy is being created and how it regulates costs, enhances employee safety, and aligns travel with organizational goals. It's equally important to specify the types of travel covered, such as domestic, international, client visits, or conferences, reducing ambiguity for employees. By outlining the policy's objectives, expectations, and some flexibility within guidelines, you provide a clear framework for cost-effective and safe business travel that aligns with your organization's broader aims.
Choose an Effective Travel Management Software
A corporate travel policy works the most effectively when coupled with travel management software that can provide end-to-end support, a unified interface and facilitate policy compliance. A tool like Travelstop is essential for ensuring that all your employees are always informed about the nitty-gritty of your travel policy, can make policy-compliant bookings right from the platform and even report expenses and grievances. Travelstop allows you to completely integrate every aspect of your travel policy into the platform, making policy compliance a breeze and increasing its utility multifold.
Select Preferred Vendors
This practice is an essential cost-cutting component in a travel policy. Specify preferred vendors for transportation, accommodation, and other travel services. These preferred vendors should be selected based on negotiated rates and service quality, encouraging employees to make choices that not only optimize costs but also maintain a consistent standard of service.
If you’re using Travelstop, you will enjoy the benefit of integrating these special vendors and prices into your own customized booking platform. This gives you the flexibility to view and book your negotiated rates from the platform itself, enhancing cost-saving across the board.
Establish Approval Workflows
Defining the authority for approving travel requests and creating a structured process for seeking approval is a pivotal component of a well-crafted corporate travel policy. Within the policy, you should establish a clear hierarchy of approval, starting with the traveler's immediate supervisor and extending to higher levels for more significant expenses or longer trips.
Comprehensive policies also specify the criteria that approvers should consider when evaluating travel requests, including factors like the trip's purpose, anticipated costs, and alignment with company objectives.
On Travelstop, you can establish approval workflows effortlessly, by using traveler profiles. Once established, Travelstop will automatically notify approvers of pending approvals without the need for any manual intimation, making the entire process extremely quick and efficient.
Set Expense Reporting & Reimbursement Guidelines
Expense reporting and reimbursement guidelines within a corporate travel policy are fundamental for financial transparency and efficiency. To elaborate, the policy should outline a clear, user-friendly process for travelers to report their expenses, including details on what constitutes allowable expenses – such as transportation, accommodation, meals, and incidentals – to avoid confusion. You should also establish submission deadlines to ensure timely and accurate reporting, ensuring employees understand when and how to submit their expense claims. The policy should specify the necessary documentation, such as receipts and invoices, to support expense claims and maintain accountability. By providing these detailed procedures, the policy simplifies expense management for travelers and enhances financial control.
Periodic Reviews & Updates
As circumstances, regulations, and technology evolve, it's crucial to schedule periodic reviews of the policy to assess its alignment with the ever-changing business environment. This process involves evaluating the policy's effectiveness in meeting the organization's goals, staying compliant with legal and tax requirements, and accommodating shifts in travel technology and trends. By incorporating feedback from employees and relevant stakeholders, the policy can be refined to address emerging challenges and opportunities. Moreover, regular updates allow for integrating new cost-saving strategies, safety measures, and industry best practices, ultimately preserving the policy's value in promoting efficient, cost-effective, and secure business travel.
Creating an effective travel policy requires careful planning, collaboration, and consideration of your organization’s unique needs and its travelers. While these practices will give you a headstart in creating one for your company, it is crucial to recognize what works best for your employees and stakeholders. A corporate travel policy significantly impacts numerous employees, so their interests should be the top priority. To foster better employee engagement with the policy, it's crucial to employ a streamlined and user-friendly platform. That's precisely where a tool like Travelstop excels, serving as a bridge between employees and the travel policy, ensuring it is readily accessible and easily comprehensible.