When it comes to sending employees on business trips, corporate travel managers are tasked with controlling company costs, while ensuring a pleasant travel experience for the employee. Travel Managers must consider the preferred vendors, methods used to book travel, and the reimbursement process. In addition, travel managers must ensure policy compliance. If an employee waits too long to book a flight, there may be a drastic cost increase. If the employee fails to reserve a hotel room, big trouble awaits upon arriving to the destination. Failure to maintain receipts for out-of-pocket expenses is sure to hinder the reimbursement process. Employees who don’t travel often may be unfamiliar with company travel policies and per diem rules. That can be fixed with improvements of the policies, along with training employees on travel policies. Many different aspects of employee travel should be considered when constructing and implementing travel policies.
Before traveling, employees should be trained on company travel policies. Employees are more likely to adhere policy when they understand all of the various aspects, including consequences for violating policy.
Consequences can range from disciplinary action to unreimbursed expenses for unauthorized charges. Employees should also receive training on personal safety while traveling. Consider addressing your plan when things go wrong, such as a missed flight, sustaining an injury while traveling, forgetting to take a company credit card, or a plethora of other catastrophes. Inform employees of arrangements made with local ground transportation, hotels, or restaurants. Employees may believe they’ve found a cheaper option, simply because they aren’t aware of the arrangements previously made by the company. Communication all the way around, is a key component for successful business travel.
If your company is focused on costs and savings, you may be ignoring the overall experience of the employee. One method to achieving a positive travel experience, is to request post-trip feedback. Determine how the travel department can make adjustments to policies when feasible. Perhaps an employee felt there were not enough funds allocated for dining. Consider booking a less expensive hotel room, such as a three-star room instead of a four-star room. You’ll compromise just enough for your employee to have more funds for meals, without having to use Motel 6.
From time-to-time, company policies must be updated to reflect current times and travel. Policies should be updated to reflect changes caused by the pandemic. Policies should be easy to follow. If certain policies are misunderstood by employees, those policies should be modified to present clear and plain language. Clear language can promote policy adherence. Per diem expenses should also be updated periodically to reflect inflation. Many companies use the guidelines set by the General Services Administration to set daily allowances for meals, gratuities, and other incidental expenses. Policies should align with the culture of the company. Policies that work for one company, may not work for another. If a generic policy template is being used, your company is likely to experience turbulence, no pun intended.
Corporate travel policies can be improved. Factor in policies that will improve the overall travel experience and safety. Find a good balance in the way funds are allocated. Allocate an appropriate amount of funds for meals based upon the destination city. Food in New York is significantly higher than Salt Lake City. Ensure employees are thoroughly trained in all aspects of corporate travel to ensure maximum policy adherence. Provide refresher training to keep employees updated. Good policies should help both the business and the employee. Travel should be a collaborative effort. When working together in partnership, travel can be cost effective, employees will have improved happiness, and employee safety will be increased. Wheels up, safe travels!