Whether you are revising your current corporate travel policy or starting one from scratch, it's crucial to ensure that the resulting document protects your company's interest while also ensuring that employees can travel safely and comfortably. Begin with outlining your company's challenges and goals and then address them in directives that make sense to your employees and can be implemented quickly and effectively.
What is a travel policy?
A travel policy describes your company's rules and guidelines for scheduling, booking, and managing travel. Just as your employee handbook describes your expectations of all of your workers, a travel policy lets employees know how they should handle travel arrangements. A clear, updated travel policy can help your company avoid unnecessary expenses and possible liability risks. The policy can also help your workers understand what to expect when they travel on company business.
Identifying Challenges, Setting Goals
Whether this is your company's first travel policy or you are updating one that is currently in use, it's essential to begin the process by identifying challenges that your company is already experiencing and setting goals for travel that are cost-effective, safe, and comfortable for your employees.
As you begin this process, it's important to tap multiple departments so that you understand how everyone is affected by travel within your business. For example, you may have a team of salespeople who most regularly use travel services and other teams at your home office that only periodically have to deal with travel-related issues.
You may find, for example, that your accounting team is spending an excessive amount of time processing travel invoices and trying to reconcile receipts and expense reports. Administrative assistants may feel overwhelmed as they try to book travel for their supervisors during tourist seasons.
After you've identified challenges and pain points, start setting goals for your travel policy. Ideally, your travel policy should clarify your expectations while controlling costs and ensuring that each trip directly benefits your business.
What to Include
Every company's needs are different, but here are some items that should be a part of most travel policies. It's also important to speak to your attorney to ensure that your policies comply with federal, state, and local laws.
Employees and managers need to understand how to get approval for a trip. Your policy should designate which executives, managers, and supervisors can authorize travel. Whether an in-house administrator, a third-party contractor, or employees themselves, those responsible for booking travel should understand the permissions they need to begin the reservation process.
If your company has a preferred seller of travel, it should be stated in your policy. In addition, your policy should include preferred brands, including airline companies, car rental services, and hotel brands.
The safety of your employees is paramount, and your policies should reflect this. If your company sends team members to countries or areas that are potentially unsafe, your travel program should address the issues that might arise. Emergency contact numbers, security training, and a policy of canceling or ending trips early when conditions deteriorate should be incorporated into your guidelines.
Expenses, Including Caps and Exceptions
Travel expenses can be a delicate issue, particularly if you expect your employees to charge most or all of their travel expenses to their credit cards and then submit expense reports for reimbursement. Reimbursement disputes can create bad feelings between an employer and employee.
The best travel and expense policies will contain clear guidelines and expectations, including spending caps and the types of reimbursable expenses and those that are not. Your policy should also include guidelines for costs, such as setting an upper cap on meals and hotel rooms, as well as guidelines for exemptions to these policies in case employees are entertaining clients or have traveled to an expensive metropolitan area.
CLC Lodging has extensive experience in implementing corporate travel policies. We also offer full travel services, including booking, payment, and reporting options. Partner with CLC Lodging to help streamline your businesses lodging programs and employee travel management