It’s All in Your Travel Policy…Or Is It?

JS-0815By Julie Simpson, Senior Consultant

The one constant in the business travel industry is continual change. This truism makes an up to date travel policy key to the success of your program, yet it is one of those tasks that is easily put off. No less than annually, however, your policy needs attention.

First – where is it? If it is a printed document sitting on someone’s desk, dust it off and get it online. Travelers and arrangers need to know where to locate it. While seasoned travelers may look for ways around policy, new employees or travelers appreciate a place to go to find guidance.

One of the challenges and gifts of the online age is demand for brevity. Travelers need quick access to comprehensive information in a format that allows them to quickly sort through and find what they are looking for. Best practice is a sortable, searchable or tabbed online policy. If your company requires extensive rules (perhaps due to government contracts), find a way to capsulize the basics with links to the detail.

Setting up your online tool in a way that reflects your policy is vital to the success of your program. The more your policy can be managed in the booking process, the more likely it is to be followed. Along the same vein, working with your TMC to effectively communicate policy is very important.

An up to date policy also allows you to manage new industry challenges and address questions such as:

  • Is it okay to pay to check bags? If not always, when? Is it based on trip duration or purpose?
  • Can the cost of a preferred seat assignment be reimbursed? More often than not, seat assignments are available only for an additional fee.
  • What about shared services? Is Lyft or Uber acceptable, treated like a taxi, or ignored?
  • Under what circumstances is an Airbnb property acceptable? Are they part of your lodging program?

Other company resources need to be engaged in reviewing and evaluating your policy as well, such as the human resources, insurance and legal departments. It’s a good idea to have a standing committee in place tasked with reviewing your policy no less frequently than annually – more often if industry changes dictate.

Maintaining your travel policy can be a daunting proposition with so many other demands on a travel manager’s time. If needed, the GoldSpring team can support you in reviewing or adjusting your travel policy. Our offerings include:

  • Benchmarking Existing Travel Policy
  • Identifying any Policy Loopholes or Voids
  • “Pressure Testing” Policy to Determine Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Reviewing Results and Determining Policy Updates or Changes
  • Redrafting Travel Policy (If Needed)

As the business travel industry continues to shift and evolve over the coming years, maintaining a relevant and up to date travel policy will be increasingly important. Although it is easy to leave your travel policy on the back burner, giving it the attention it deserves is an easy way to get ahead of traveler questions that will arise with changes in the business travel environment.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 edition of GoldSpring Insights, the official email newsletter of GoldSpring Consulting. To sign up for our mailing list, please click here.

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