No matter what your organisation’s business travel goals are, the route to achieving them always begins with the implementation of an effective travel policy. However, if you’re a travel manager or procurement leader then you’ll know that this is easier said than done…

A travel policy is key to changing booker and traveller behaviour, which in turn is the most effective way to consistently achieve savings on your organisation’s travel spend. It all sounds good on paper, but implementing a travel policy that engages travellers and delivers savings is one of the most common challenges faced by our clients when we first meet them.

Whereas once the focus of travel management was squarely on cost reduction and cost avoidance, an increasing number of organisations are quite rightly turning their attention to their duty of care requirements; are they doing everything they can to ensure the safety and well-being of their travellers? If not, how can this be improved upon? It can feel as though travel policies are a tightrope on which travel managers and procurement departments must find their balance.

So, we’ve assembled our experts to provide you with a steadying hand in order to boost the efficacy of your organisation’s travel policy to ensure that it’s working for both your budget and your travellers.

Check the fit…

As tempting as it can be to impose a strict travel policy in order to see dramatic savings, overly prescriptive policies are not necessarily the most effective – in fact, the nature of your travel policy should take its cue from your organisation’s unique culture.

Trying to enforce a policy that is at odds with how the rest of your organisation works is unlikely to produce the results that your stakeholders are after; for example, mandating an incredibly strict travel policy, particularly when travellers have no prior experience of adhering to a policy, is often too stark a change and can actually lead to an increased amount of leakage and out of policy bookings. Instead, take your cue from other policies and approaches around your organisation and honestly evaluate what’s working and what can be improved upon.

One rule for one…

It’s important to acknowledge that, when it comes to travel policies, one size most certainly does not fit all travellers and that in reality many organisations have pockets of employees whose business travel needs require a more flexible set of guidelines.

Considering whether there are specific departments or groups within your organisation that could benefit from different treatment when it comes to their business travel is one way in which to boost your travel policy’s efficacy. For example, many organisations choose to adapt their policy in order to afford more flexibility and benefits to their ‘road warriors’, ie. employees who travel often, which loops back to the increasing focus on employee welfare and duty of care obligations. These travellers might be allowed to book hotels with a higher star rating, in order to enjoy the use of gym, or be able to book a car service to take them home after a long haul flight – all of which can be worked into a travel policy and provide a more tailored, and therefore comfortable, approach to business travel. In turn, this can boost policy compliance, as travellers will be working to a policy that better reflects how they work.

Look for integration…

Integrating your travel policy into your online booking tool is the best way to bring your policy to life and ensure that it’s more than a dry document that only gets looked at on an employee’s first day.

If the user can’t easily determine which options they’re allowed to book, it can lead to frustration and confusion, which may result in the user booking outside of the contract and your controls. Depending on your booking tool, a fully integrated travel policy means that your travellers should benefit from clear indication of which booking options are within policy and which aren’t, therefore guiding their booking behaviour and operating visual guilt.

Dynamic policy options…

Whereas traditional travel policies have specified which classes travellers are permitted to travel by in an effort to cut costs, the introduction of dynamic travel policies is allowing organisations to break away from this more restrictive concept of cost saving and is instead affording travellers more flexibility and choice whilst still allowing organisations to keep control of their spend.

Unlike a traditional business travel policy that is 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 saying a rail ticket must be in standard class, you say that it must be within X% of the cheapest option. This gives the traveller choice but concurrently controls costs, delivering best value and a great user experience.

Always review…

Not all travel policies last forever – in fact, policies can quickly become outdated and ill-fitting as organisations grow over time, meaning they become ineffective and unsuited to changing requirements.

Consider traveller and booker feedback to understand changing or new requirements. Talk to your travel management company 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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About the Author:

Alice is Click Travel’s Content Coordinator and is responsible for all of our digital and print content, packaging up and presenting the wealth of expertise at Click in a way that works for you.