Getting employees to comply with an organisation’s travel policy is one of the biggest challenges in the business travel industry.
Technological advances and the subsequent introduction of more online booking sites than you can shake a policy-resistant stick at has given us all the ability and confidence to book our own travel arrangements, and your organisation’s employees are no exception; they’re familiar with using certain sites and processes for booking their personal holidays, so they often try to revert to using these same sites when asked to arrange their business travel.
But where does this leave your travel policy?
Well, it will eventually cause some leakage, as it will mean that employees will begin to book their travel arrangement outside of policy – compromising not only the control that you have on your organisation’s travel spend, but also the reliability of the MI that reports on your travel trends.
The first step to improving compliance with your travel policy is to understand why employees are resistant to booking within the defined parameters set out in the policy; is it a matter of convenience? Is your current booking system difficult to use or access? Does your travel policy seem inflexible or unrealistic to employees? Do employees feel like they have more choice using online booking sites?
Once you have a clear picture of why out of policy bookings are being made, you can then take steps to negate these problems and boost your travel policy compliance rate. Here’s a quick-fire course in how to boost compliance in your organisation:
1. Increase choice and accessibility
Identifying how employees prefer to book their travel is key to boosting policy compliance within your organisation; for example, if employees tend to book travel and keep track of itineraries on mobile (something that’s particularly prevalent amongst millennials…) then you could enquire as to whether your current system, or TMC, can provide that level of accessibility.
Lack of choice can also drive employees in the opposite direction to your travel policy, so it’s important to ensure that your current TMC provides you with access to a variety of content, rather than remaining reliant on traditional GDS approaches.
2. Re-visit your travel policy
Checking your travel policy to ensure that it sets parameters that are realistic for employees is worthwhile; a travel policy should guide employees, whilst not being so restrictive that it causes negative sentiment.
Analysing your management information regularly will show trends in how employees travel (as well as helping you to identify whether compliance is a departmental issue, or more widespread…), as well as popular hotels and locations; once you’ve pulled this together it would be useful to then have a conversation with employees and gather their feedback; they may have valid reasons that can be worked into a more flexible, but effective, travel policy.
With that in mind, it may be worth talking to your TMC about whether they can help you to introduce a dynamic travel policy.
3. Educate and incentivise employees
Not only do employees need educating on how to book within policy, but they also need educating on ‘the bigger picture’; how and why booking within policy benefits the business as a whole. More often than not, employees are operating outside of policy due to a lack of relevant knowledge, rather than a deep seated desire to ‘break the rules’.
Incentivising employees is also another tactic you could consider using to boost travel policy compliance, as if a traveller is rewarded for sticking to policy then they are more likely to comply and connect their behaviour to company goals. Incentives to comply with your organisation’s travel policy could include gamification, or even a split in money saved with employees if they actively offer to travel economy class in long haul rather than business, for example, could both bolster your efforts to boost compliance.
No matter how you encourage employees to book within the parameters of your organisation’s travel policy, nothing can begin or progress without an open discussion with both your TMC and your employees. Once that’s taken place, you can begin to work towards crafting a travel policy that not only works for your employees, but also works for your organisation.
If the term ‘leakage’ makes you want to call a plumber and ‘gamification’ stirs your competitive side then you can decode travel management’s most used terms, phrases and acronyms by downloading our complimentary travel management glossary below.