Generally speaking, anything with the word ‘policy’ in it seems like a complete snoozefest, right?
If you think of all of your favourite policies next time you can’t sleep then you’ll certainly nod off within seconds.
Well, grab some matchsticks to wedge your lids open, because no matter how dry you think policies might be, successfully implementing even the most basic of travel policies within your organisation is the most effective way to save money on your business travel spend long term.
What actually is a travel policy?
A business travel policy, also known as a corporate travel policy in some parts, is a document that outlines an organisation’s guidelines when it comes to booking business travel.
Although policies can vary in complexity, severity and just plain old length, they all do the same thing – tell all employees what they can and can’t book when travelling for business. For example, a policy may prevent employees from travelling in 1st class on the train or may only allow them to spend £80 on a hotel room.
Why do I actually need a travel policy?
By clearly stating what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to booking business travel (we’re looking at you, Steve – serial 5 star suite booker…) you’re better able to control what is being spent on business travel, meaning that you’ve got a much better chance of sticking to budget and even reducing your spend if you need to.
It’s this greatly enhanced level of control that is the biggest benefit of implementing a travel policy and is the key reason why travel policies remain the best way to consistently reduce your travel spend long term.
A travel policy can also be tweaked and adapted over time, meaning that it’s an effective approach for organisations who are experiencing rapid change and growth – if your budgets or requirements change as your organisation evolves then all you need to do is edit the guidelines in your policy and you’re good to go.
It’s worth noting that travel policies also help organisations to fulfill their duty of care obligations to their travelling employees. Policies can feature guidelines and stipulations that prevent your teams from travelling to dangerous or volatile locations, or more commonly from staying in accommodation that doesn’t offer facilities such as a safe, smoke detectors or a sufficient lock on the door. So, if you don’t want your team staying in a damp motel on the side of the M6 and waking up to find their hair has been stolen then put it in your travel policy.
How is a travel policy going to save my organisation money?
Broadly speaking, a travel policy sets out the parameters within which your team can book their business travel and so if you state that they can’t book a hotel room that’s more than £80 then, if they’re used to booking £100 rooms, you will of course see a reduction in spend.
So, there you have it, money saved. Easy.
However, that reduction in travel spend relies on most, if not all, of your team sticking to policy and if they’ve never had to do that before then an iron-tight set of rules might be met with some resistance.
This is where new and improved, dynamic travel policies come into play.
A dynamic travel policy is like a bog-standard travel policy, only better. Whereas more traditional travel policies are static, a dynamic business travel policy’s controls will adapt depending on the options available at the time of booking. For example, instead of stating that a rail ticket must be in standard class, a dynamic travel policy would say that the ticket must be within X% of the cheapest option available.
It’s with a dynamic policy that you really can have the best of both worlds; this approach affords your team with a certain amount of choice, but concurrently controls costs. Your team will be less resistant to booking within policy because the rules won’t seem so restrictive – in fact, there’s no reason why they can’t book a first class ticket if the rate falls within budget. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The kicker is that you won’t be able to benefit from using a dynamic policy if you’re booking your travel through standard booking sites – you need something that offers a little extra.