Travel policies are business travel’s unpopular kid. They’re the goody-two-shoes, the telltale and the party pooper all rolled into one – in the eyes of your travellers.
However, travel policies are in place for good reason. Despite being one of the most challenging aspects of a business travel programme, a travel policy is one of the most effective ways of gaining control over how your organisation travels, as well as how much it’s spending.
So, whether you’re implementing a travel policy for the first time or are just trying to breathe life into an outdated set of rules, take a look at our best practice advice for ensuring that your travel policy is the most effective it can be:
1. Consider a dynamic approach
A dynamic travel policy is like a traditional travel policy, only better. Whereas more traditional travel policies are usually a static set of guidelines that mandate what can and can’t be booked, 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.
This really is the best of both worlds in the sense that it affords the person booking a certain amount of choice, but concurrently controls costs, delivering the best value whilst providing a great user experience – which is why Click have pioneered the use of a dynamic policy for some time now.
Organisations are starting to value the culture that operates within their offices and between their employees more than ever before, with many keen to promote cultures of freedom, flexibility and trust. Using a dynamic travel policy can really be conducive to this type of organisational culture, as the flexibility is often greatly appreciated by travellers who frequently find themselves travelling away from home and can be seen as a vital component of a harmonious, ‘give and take’ culture.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Introduce gamification into your organisation
Most of us experience gamification every time we receive a stamp on our rewards card when we buy a coffee, or receive a discount code as a thank you for purchasing an item online, and introducing these concepts into the arena of business travel can be a really effective way of encouraging travellers to book in policy, be mindful of their travel spend or even just as a way of giving back to travellers who travel often.
Some organisations operate a points system, with travellers who book 3 weeks in advance receiving 50 points, 1 week in advance earning 10 points and so on. The more points that they have the more they can use to buy rewards such as trips or cinema tickets at the end of the financial year.
There are many ways in which the gaming system can be implemented and used, for example booking with preferred suppliers; not checking in unnecessary bags; picking the best value hotels; completing expense reports early and using off airport parking.
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