Travel is a large part of a company’s allocated budgetary expense. Therefore, making sure your policies are compliant is key. After all, it centers around controlling costs employees spend on trips, as well as helping to manage employees’ travel experiences and safety while on the road.
Typically, a company’s travel policy covers everything from which vendors employees should use, to how travel should be booked, what associated costs are covered on a company card, and what the company process is for reimbursement. These policies — whether or not they’re overseen by a travel management company — often must be strictly adhered to; however, some companies take a more flexible approach. In the case of the latter, pitfalls may occur.
Check out our top tips to improve your company’s travel policy compliance.
1. Consider employee satisfaction
Cost savings are important, but so is the satisfaction of employees. According to an August 2015 survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), 75% of respondents believed that boosting the traveler service experience improves compliance since it has the power to change employee behavior. So how do you go about achieving a greater level of satisfaction? Involve employees in the process. Ask for their feedback — and take it seriously. By learning about their travel preferences and perspectives, you can incorporate it into future decision-making.
2. Inform employees about duty of care
Travel safety — especially in light of current events — is in the forefront of everyone’s minds. Many business travel agencies, like AmTrav, feature technology that allows immediate access to travelers’ locations. Whether or not a travel management company (TMC) is used, it’s important that employees understand the company’s approach to duty of care, risk assessment prior to travel and in-place crisis management plans, as well as its approach to employee tracking.
3. Keep policies clear, concise and accurate
It’s integral that travel policies — and the expectations associated with them — are accessible and clearly communicated. Employee education is not just important to new hires, though: longtime employees should be regularly informed about travel compliance policies and updates to the policies that are already in place. Travel policies should be reviewed and updated annually. And it goes without saying that travel managers must be kept informed about policy compliance expectations. They should also receive training on using online tools so they can properly enforce the policies that are in place. Finally, all policies should be made available on the company’s intranet for easy reference by employees and travel managers alike.
4. Use technology to your advantage
According to the April 2013 Aberdeen Group Report, “End-to-End Visibility Into T&E Expense Management: Mobile Comes to the Table,” investing in an all-encompassing, end-to-end solution — from travel to post-travel reporting — improves compliance by 44%. Given all of the new technology that is available, you should harness it. That means using one system throughout the travel cycle to improve compliance. Helpful is the fact that TMCs often have tools that do the heavy lifting, both in terms of tracking expenses and managing company compliance. In the case of companies that do not use a TMC, however, employees are left to book travel on their own. That means trusting they’ll adhere to policy and making them wait for reimbursement. Let it be said that this approach leaves businesses open to less robust analytics and less consistent compliance. If you’re managing travel in-house, you should enlist a fully functional travel portal that tracks spending, policy compliance and more to avoid potential issues, such as the one that AmTrav offers.
5. Incentivize employees
It’s important to recognize that sometimes employees need a little nudge. For instance, tech firm Rocketrip uses a unique algorithm that employs a company’s travel policy, price data and employee parameters to motivate travelers to save the company money through smart bookings. If employees opt to take a less desirable flight, they may be able to pocket half of the money they saved the company. You may also want to consider perks like offering time off to employees who book economy class flights. Incentives like this show an increase in travel policy compliance among employees.