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Creating Corporate Travel Policies – Part 3

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We are continuing our mini-series for creating a 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. Our series includes setting policy for expenses such as hotels, airfare, and ground transportation. This installment covers the controversial subject of entertainment expenses.

Meals & Entertainment Policy Guidelines

Employees are sometimes tasked with entertaining clients, perspective clients, business partners or others. You must establish a section in your corporate travel policy that details best practices for entertaining. It isn’t just about avoiding excessive expenses. It’s also about behavior and tolerance. Is it acceptable within your organization to take a client to a strip club? Only you can decide what is and isn’t appropriate behavior when entertaining with company funds. Many things can be considered entertainment. From cocktails to theater tickets, strip clubs to ball games. The term, “entertainment” is subject to personal interpretation unless you have guidelines that spell out expectations.

Policy Considerations

  • Spending limits for meal expenses. Spending limits can be set with a per day allowance or a per meal per diem allowance. The current average daily allowance is $60 to $70 per day. Per meal allowances should be set based on the average cost of breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Set rules on what is allowed when employees are entertaining clients. Considerations include a maximum per meal/per person cost, limits on the number of alcoholic beverages or wine bottles that can be purchased during a meal.
  • Alcohol can quickly turn into a booze fest when the money being spent belongs to the company. Provide clear instructions on when alcohol can be expensed and a maximum amount that can be spent on alcohol per person.
  • Provide employees with a list of allowable personal expenses. Perhaps you are okay with using the hotel dry cleaning service, so employees have pressed attire. Maybe an employee needs to have their laundry done when traveling for longer periods of time. Is that allowed? Are mini-bar charges allowed? With clear instruction, there will be no surprises with the final hotel bill.

Reimbursement Policy

Make sure you specify what information is needed to be reimbursed for travel expenses. Will you require the original receipts, a cell phone photo or PDF file? What other documentation will you require to process reimbursement requests?

Explain your expense reimbursement process in terms of when expenses should be turned in, who the final approver of expenses is and when payment will be made. These rules might differ based on employees who have been assigned a company credit card for travel expense and those who use their own debit or credit cards.

Safety Matters

All employees traveling for business should have a company contact they can call upon in case of an emergency while they’re away. You should also include a regular contact schedule so that there are no long intervals of non-communication.

Coming Up: Part 4: How to Successfully Implement Corporate Travel Policy