No matter what your organisation’s business travel goals are, all routes to achieving them lead back to your travel policy.
That said, implementing an effective travel policy is a tough nut to crack.
They’re challenging to pull together, can be even more challenging to enforce and, after what can feel like mere seconds since you put one in place, can become outdated and badly-fitting as your organisation evolves and grows over time.
In fact, creating a travel policy that looks after the needs of an organisation whilst also benefitting its individual travellers, and enforcing it in the right way, is one of the most common challenges faced by our clients at Click.
That’s why we’ve produced a cut-out-and-keep (or bookmark and keep…) cheat sheet to all things travel policy. Whether it’s your first time creating a travel policy or whether you’re about to make some changes and feel like you need a quick refresher, this short guide features all of the terms that will likely pop up as you’re discussing your organisation’s travel policy, as well as best practice advice on what makes for a successful travel policy.
Dynamic travel policy
Unlike a traditional business travel policy, that’s a static set of business travel guidelines, a dynamic business travel policy’s controls will adapt depending on the options available at the time of booking.
For example, instead of specifying that a rail ticket must be in standard class, you specify that it must be within X% of the cheapest option. This will give your travellers choice but will also concurrently control costs, delivering best value and a great user experience.
Leakage occurs when travellers book their business travel outside of your organisation’s travel contract, doing things such as buying a ticket direct from an airline’s website and then claiming through expenses, instead of buying through your organisation’s contracted travel management company (TMC).
If you want full control of your business travel spend you need to capture leakage. Reasons for leakage usually include, a poor booking process, rates that are not competitive and a weak business travel policy.
Gamification is a method that your organisation can implement to improve user engagement and motivation through the use of game type elements such as loyalty rewards cards.
In travel management this can be a powerful tool to drive a desired travel behaviour within an organisation, such as booking through an online tool only or booking with preferred suppliers, by rewarding travellers through incentives.
In travel management, traveller behaviour is a way to describe certain recurring patterns that travellers perform throughout an organisation. Your travellers’ behaviour can either have a positive or negative impact on your organisation’s travel goals; an example of good behaviour is booking train tickets a month in advance – creating savings, whereas bad behaviour would be booking a few days before a trip – meaning unnecessarily expensive fares.
Organisations often work with TMCs to create a travel policy that drives a desired traveller behaviour; achieving these changes can lead to significant savings on business travel.
Visual guilt refers to the technique of prompting a user to reconsider the travel that they are about to purchase if a more cost effective alternative option is available. It is used in travel management programmes to reduce travel costs by driving behavioural change.
Examples include marking a product as non-compliant with an organisation’s travel policy; requiring the user to tick a checkbox to confirm they understand that they are not buying the cheapest available option.
And when it comes to actually writing your travel policy…
#1 Keep to the point
Travellers and bookers will not have time to read a lengthy or complicated policy document. Focus on keeping it simple, referencing all travel types and try and stick to 2 or 3 pages max. Even better, if you use a TMC make sure it is built into your business travel solution so that travellers know instantly which options are ok and which ones fall out of policy.
#2 No ambiguity
Be precise about what is permitted within your policy. Avoid wording such as ‘unless it’s not convenient to do so’ as this will only dilute the effectiveness of what you are trying to achieve.
#3 Consider your culture
Every organisation is different and it’s important for your travel policy to reflect your organisation’s culture. Take note of the industry that you’re in and write the policy using language that your employees will be familiar with. Once your policy has been signed off, senior management should also be endorsing it for maximum effect.
#4 Fit for purpose
Always keep in mind what it is you want to achieve from your policy. Is it all about achieving savings and reducing travel spend, or is it primarily to ensure traveller welfare? Most likely it will be about both, but keep focused on the end goal throughout to avoid getting lost along the way! Your TMC should be able to help you find the right balance of all factors and help you avoid traveller friction.
#5 Duty of care
Your policy needs to be fair and fit for purpose. Take the time to balance your company objectives and cost-saving measures against your responsibility as a business for your employees. See the policy as your chance to have a positive impact on your business travellers, make them feel valued and well-cared for while away from home on business.
#6 Review regularly
Consider traveller and booker feedback to understand changing or new requirements. Talk to your TMC about industry updates that may affect your policy in either a positive or negative way. By reviewing your policy regularly you can ensure it continues to work for your business and your employees.
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