Previously, we talked about how HR or travel managers can go about selling and marketing their company’s corporate travel policy to employees, getting them to understand its importance, and more importantly, ensuring they comply with it.
But the thing is, reaching out to employees is only half of the equation. You also need to convince your company’s management—from individual team leaders to members of the C-suite—to get onboard.
Your goal shouldn’t just be to get your leadership to follow the travel policy themselves, but it should also include turning them into advocates in their respective teams.
It’s all about the benefits, benefits, benefits
The good news is that most managers ultimately care about one thing when deciding to support a corporate travel policy: whether or not it will deliver a net business benefit.
Your job, then, is to tout the benefits of having a corporate travel policy in place. We recommend focusing on the following areas.
Processes and business intelligence
A travel policy with clear standards for processes allows companies to improve the efficiency of travelling employees and reduce the cost of each trip they take. Not only would a policy help managers track where their employees are, but it would also allow them to have more control over the expenditures and costs associated with business travel.
For example, a CFO innovation report found that a travel and expense (T&E) system based on a clear corporate travel policy was capable of reducing the cost of processing expense reports by as much as 30 per cent.
Standardising your processes also makes it possible to collect business intelligence, which, in turn, will help improve your travel policy even further, taking into account information such as frequently used hotels and airlines, as well as individual traveller habits.
Duty of care
Your company is on the hook for keeping travelling employees informed about the potential risks and problems they may face when on the road.
This is your duty of care obligation. While its scope and meaning may have changed over the years, one thing is clear: it is an essential part of any corporate travel policy.
Business travel can be exciting, but employees face a wide range of risks when on the road, including, extreme weather and calamities, epidemics, political unrest, and terrorist attacks, among others. Unsurprisingly, a 2017 BTN survey found that 63 per cent of travel buyers and managers were paying more attention to traveller safety and travel risk management due to these factors.
What you should do is make it clear to management that a travel policy ensures your employees’ exposure to risk is limited. In turn, this prevents your company from bleeding money when worst-case scenarios happen.
Duty of care also applies to “minor” untoward incidents like missing flights, losing passports, or falling ill abroad—all of which cost money and affect the welfare of your employees.
Compliance = cost savings
As mentioned earlier, implementing a travel policy allows your company to generate savings from business trips. Your policy can indicate your preferred suppliers for things like flights, rental cars, accommodations, and travel insurance.
This prevents employees from going “rogue” and making bookings with whatever vendor they want. From a B2B standpoint, a policy helps you cultivate close relationships with select suppliers. These relationships, in turn, could lead to perks such as lounge passes for travellers, better rates, and free upgrades—things your employees are sure to love.
You can also write policies to encourage savings, such as placing strict controls on which class employees can book on flights, requesting that employees book flights or accommodations a certain number of days in advance (advance booking can save up to 61 per cent on economy flights), and setting allowances for meals.
Making the pitch to management
One thing’s for sure: there is no one-size-fits-all approach to communicating the value of a corporate travel policy to your boss. Still, there are a few best practices you can follow to pitch your policy.
Frame the travel policy against the needs of your company
Some organisations like to plan business trips several weeks in advance, while others are willing to make bookings at the very last minute. Some companies prioritise cost savings while others value traveller comfort and convenience above all else.
The point here is to pitch your corporate travel policy with your company’s preferences and needs in mind. If you’re not sure how to do that, take the time to understand your organisation’s business travel preferences and objectives. Talk to different department heads and members of your C-suite to pick their brains.
This brings us to the next point.
Gather your data
Data is what will help you show your boss why your organisation needs a corporate travel policy rather than just telling them what it does.
If you have yet to develop a coherent system for managing business trips, this may take time, but it’s important to get the numbers to build your case.
Not sure where to look?
For starters, scour HR records and expense reports, collecting data and picking out the bits that matter. You can also talk to internal stakeholders in your organisation—think employees, IT staff, finance and accounting, and procurement—to find out what difficulties they experience when travelling for business or handling support for employees on the road.
State your objectives
Now that you understand your organisation’s needs and have the data to make your case, you can then determine the objectives you hope to achieve with a corporate travel policy in place.
Is it traveller security and risk management? Cost savings? Improved compliance? Expenditure tracking?
Again, this boils down to your company’s circumstances. In any case, focus on communicating how your corporate travel policy could deliver value.
Make things simple, valuable, and actionable
Remember, your organisation’s leadership is only ever likely to support your corporate travel policy if they believe in the value it brings to the table. It is imperative that you educate managers on all the benefits of a travel policy, but making sure these benefits connect with your company’s business travel needs and goals.