Stop Travel Policies That Do Not Consider the Traveller
Ever since the worldwide economic slump of the mid 2000s, companies have been focused on making savings wherever possible and their travel budget has been no exception. Despite the current economic growth, such budgets have remained the same. It’s almost as if the C-suite sees no correlation between growth and people meeting customers and prospects face-to-face. Gone is business class, often forever, gone are the 5-star hotels and gone are the fashionable restaurants and welcome everything ‘economy.’
We are seeing a resurgence of business travel worldwide however and corporations around the world need to facilitate an easy and comfortable travelling experience while keeping cost under control.
A Solid Travel Policy Is Based On Your Travellers' Needs
While most companies have a travel policy, at least a basic one, many use them as a cost-controlling tool while the more progressive companies put their employees at the centre of such policies.
Before embarking on the drafting of a smart travel policy, companies must bear in mind that each of its travellers has different needs, varying travel frequencies, distances and durations. The policy should be brief, easy to understand and flexible to ensure both compliance and comfort. Here are the top questions such policies need to consider and you should be able to answer the following questions in a positive fashion:
Do your top deals close faster when your team meet and know their counterparts? Are all stakeholders involved in drafting the policy? (Management, Finance, Human resources and the road warriors, those travellers who almost seem to be always on the road.)
Is your current travel optimising cost or is it out-of-control? (you can never escape good cost management.)
Is it optimising cost at the expense of the traveller’s comfort and safety? How do you know?
What is the trip planning process? Who makes the booking? A central agency or the employee?
What can and cannot be reimbursed?
Do you have recommended airlines or leave it to the traveller to make a decision?
Is economy mandatory for all travel or do you allocate travel class based on distance or time?
Is your hotel selection based on users’ feedback or selected by someone who never travels? (cheapest is not always best and could put your employees’ morale at risk.)
What ground transport do you favour? Car rental? Taxis? Buses? Private vehicles? Are you aware of the local variations? Their benefits? Their risk? Where can your team eat? What is reasonable in your traveller’s view?
How much can your traveller safely invest in a client to impress them?
If something happens to your team, how do they get back? Which hospital do they go to? How can they be evacuated? How do you ensure business continuity? How do you even know where they are?
Who’s paying for the travel insurance? Are you relying on a credit card’s limited benefits or have you negotiated comprehensive coverage for them?
Do you allow your travellers to combine their business trips with pleasure? Do you cover their costs within reason or leave them to their own devices? (paying for a ticket to the Great Wall of China can go a long way to make a traveller feel appreciated.)
Do you encourage or forbid your travellers from posting their trips on social media?
The Importance of a Business Traveller Focused Travel Policy
Research widely indicates that investing more results in employees working harder at getting desired results and many companies have had to find out the hard way that saving money on business travel can ultimately lead to significantly reduced profits.
If a travel policy is a mere cost-saving tool, it will inevitably make for unhappy business travellers and lost deals. Costs obviously need to be controlled and kept within a reasonable budget, however, this should never negatively impact on traveller comfort, health and well-being. Providing guidelines for mishaps and emergencies is also an absolute necessity. Whether these misfortunes are as seemingly insignificant as minor delays, double-booked rooms or bad meals or as major as life-threatening situations for business travellers, a policy that does not include safety procedures, emergency phone numbers and emergency action is not worth the paper it is written on.
Bad travel policies ignore the traveller’s needs, preferences and concerns and excludes her/him from the entire booking process.
Good travel policies award travellers a certain amount of autonomy and flexibility and are written from the travelling employee’s point of view. If employees are involved in making travel arrangements, they are bound to be more content and produce better work.
Furthermore, legally, companies have a duty of care towards their employees and by including health & safety guidelines in a travel policies, companies can ensure that they are meeting their legal requirements. Let’s face it, you don’t want your employees to even the odds if they feel they’re being treated unfairly.
Taking the wishes and needs of business travellers into consideration when drafting a travel policy is a must as well as an aspect of a successful business.