If your business requires your employees to travel, you probably have some form of travel policy in place. But when was the last time you reviewed it? If it’s too limiting, it can be a constant frustration for your regular travelers. And an ambiguous policy can result in an employee spending spree.
You should review your travel policy regularly (at least once a year) to make sure it’s adapted to any business growth or change. This way you can make sure your dedicated travelers get what they need to drive business results without tallying up too many expenses.
Here are five things to consider when creating or updating your company travel policy.
1. Keep your road warriors content
Often times finance teams create the company travel policy. But, typically, they aren’t the ones pounding the pavement every day. Base your policy around employees who will be traveling the most. It should give room for employees to make some of their own decisions.
For example, your employees may not care what hotel they stay at, but would prefer to eat well while they’re away. In this case, you might allow them to book a three-star hotel and reallocate funds for better dining options.
Avoid a one-size-fits-all policy. Instead, let it adapt to your employees’ lifestyle, if it’s practical.
2. Document the details
A travel policy is a communication tool. It can’t control behavior, but if properly communicated, it will provide clarity and create guidelines for employees to follow. From booking flights to reserving rental cars, be sure to outline every procedure and process you expect your traveling employees to follow.
For example, do you allow employees to purchase refundable tickets? Would you prefer your employee purchase the lowest fare or is first class acceptable? Or, perhaps, you have a company booking site that you expect them to use.
All of these elements need to be communicated and documented in your travel policy.
3. Create incentives for your tireless travelers
Travel takes your employees away from their family and friends, not to mention the physical toll it can have on them.
Alleviate some of that burden by allowing them to benefit from obligatory business trips. For example, let your employees use their personal travel reward memberships for flights and hotels. This way, not only are they collecting a paycheck for their business trip, but they’re also accumulating points toward their next vacation.
Also, allowing for some “downtime” during their trip can help make up for the hours they spend away from home. This gives them a chance to explore a new city or unwind between the journey and meetings.
4. Review regularly
The price of travel is constantly changing. Therefore, it’s important to audit your travel policy on an annual basis to ensure you’re able to balance the additional costs.
Here are a few examples of questions you should ask when reviewing your company’s travel policy:
- What is the current cost of travel? Does your budget and policy allow for the necessary expenses?
- Are your employees getting what they need when they travel? Are they making unnecessary purchases?
- Have there been any changes to the way you expect your employees to book their trips?
- Have there been any issues or employee complaints that might change your policy or procedures?
By answering these questions, you can craft a company travel policy that accurately reflects your business need and respects your company’s budget.
Evaluate industry trends and assess your budget. Are your projected travel expenses accurate? Did you consider all your employees’ expected expenses? Even small costs, such as hotel Wi-Fi connection charges and room taxes should be considered. These seemingly insignificant charges can quickly add up and put you over budget.
Business travel forecasts are a helpful resource when strategizing budgets.
5. Be aware of scams
When creating your travel policy, be sure you set up safeguards to prevent employees from taking advantage of your company. If you think simply requiring your employees to turn in their receipts after a business trip is enough, think again.
As technology advances so do the chances of employees manipulating travel policies. For example, there are websites that allow users to generate fake receipts. And since it’s illegal for an employer to request employees’ personal credit card statements, it can be difficult to prove whether receipts are legit.
For this reason, many businesses choose to issue their regular travelers corporate credit cards. While this can be convenient for both you and your employees when making purchases, corporate credit cards don’t help you monitor and control what your employees are spending when on the road.
Another solution: company expense cards. These cards can easily be managed and expenditures can be tracked and accounted for. You can approve card funds and set limits on spending. For example, with the Insperity ExpensAbleTM Plus MasterCard® you decide how much money to put on employees’ cards before they leave, and you can limit spending to specific merchants.
With company expense cards, every purchase your employees make is automatically tracked in your expense management system. And because it’s your company’s card, you can see the statement and ensure every purchase is authentic.
Before you start updating your travel policy make sure you’re including all the right information. Download our guide, Nine Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Write Your Travel Policy.