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Creating Corporate Travel Policies – Part 1

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Today we begin a mini-series for creating your very own policy manual for employees traveling for business. If you already have your own policy guide, you can check it against ours and refresh it as needed. There are many components related to travel policies and we don’t want to overwhelm you by covering all the details at once. Over the next few weeks, we will share information about setting policy for expenses such as hotels, airfare, ground transportation. Your policy guide should include the steps needed for making reservations, being reimbursed and spelling out expenses that are allowed or expressly prohibited.

Why You Need Policy

While you might be inclined to just whip up some quick rules, policy has a direct impact on travelers, managers, and admins. Clearly written policies help you consolidate your company travel and make it easier to report and track business trip expenses and set behavior expectations while representing your company on the road. A good travel policy is essentially your company’s rules and procedures for receiving approval to travel, booking travel and controlling expenses for business travel. For those employees who travel infrequently, it lets them know if they can fly business class, how many weeks or business days in advance should they book their trips and even safety precautions employees must take when traveling.

Primary Considerations

There are certain factors that come up for each company business trip that should be included in your policies. These include:

  • Your corporate travel company and contact information for booking reservations
  • Maximum spending amounts for hotels, ground transportation and airfare
  • Special budget exceptions and who can approve
  • Preferred company vendors such as Ecko Worldwide for ground transportation
  • The reimbursement process
  • Allowable expenses such as meals, cocktails, room service etc.
  • Duty of Care and Safety Protocols
  • Traveling debriefing processes

Benefits for Business Travelers

The biggest benefit of having a business travel policy is to provide clear guidelines and fairness for all travelers. It gives them the flexibility and autonomy to book their own travel within your set guidelines. It makes sure that safety concerns are addressed to protect the company from liability issues and protect the traveler by establishing safety procedures such as periodic check-ins while traveling. It also reduces and confusion and hassle with travel.

Benefits for the company

By having clear travel policies, companies can avoid unexpected expenses or out of control spending with claim of being naïve to what was allowed or not permissible. It provides a clear method for employees to submit expenses for reimbursement and an expectation of when they will be reimbursed if they had to use personal funds for company travel.

What to Include

Your travel policy will govern all employees who travel for business. It will be based on how far your company travels, who travels, and the purpose of their travel. The most important things to include are your process for approving travel, how reservations are made and by whom and spending allowances. Your policy should outline what purchases can be submitted for reimbursement and what can’t. This will avoid any unpleasant experiences for an employee who is too generous with tips or purchases an umbrella with an expectation of being reimbursed because it rained during their trip. There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this scenario. The policy is yours to make. Business expenses for client entertainment, meals, or convention fees should be outlined in your policy.

Coming Up Next Week: Part 2: Lodging and Airfare Expenses