How to Create a Corporate Travel Policy: A Step-By-Step Guide
A corporate travel policy is the backbone of the travel process in your company and a set of guidelines for how employees should travel while on the job. From preventing costs from ballooning out of control to capturing crucial itinerary details for duty of care purposes, corporate travel solutions such as a travel policy is a basic necessity for any company with employees traveling for business.
Whether you own a large company or a small enterprise comprised of three people who travel two or more times a year, you can benefit from having a plan in place for employee travel. Studies indicate that 50% of business travelers say that they don’t always follow company policy. This is usually due to strict, unrealistic expectations set by the employer that prompt the employee to undercut policy, resulting in losses for the company.
How do you ensure your corporate travel policy will be a hit amongst employees and benefit your company by saving time and money? The key lies in the structure and content of your policy.
In today’s blog, we’re outlining a step-by-step guide on how to put together a resilient corporate travel policy that your employees will embrace and adhere to, no matter the travel destination. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Understand Needs and Set Goals
Before you get to putting together your corporate travel policy, you should have a strong understanding of current travel policies and shape your goals around these expectations.
Current travel policies in major companies have the same problems:
- Not enough flexibility for employees
- Not enough money being saved
- Lack of communication
Next, map out how travel is currently being purchased at your company and collect as much data as you can about traveler practices. How often in advance are your travelers booking? When, if at all, are they booking business flights? Conduct a company-wide survey to collect data in order to better understand traveler preferences and use that information to help you write a policy that finds a balance between traveler needs and company savings.
Finally, create a list of goals that you want to be achieved by the creation of a corporate travel policy:
- Helping travelers book trips
- Reducing employees spending money on items that aren’t reimbursable
- Safety of employees
- Saving time and money
Step 2: Outline Expense Categories
Expense categories refer to what you will reimburse your employees for, as well as the items your company will not cover. When creating the corporate travel policy, be sure to list every travel and entertainment item that your company is willing to reimburse employees for, along with any restrictions or guidelines for booking in those categories.
Here are some examples of what an employer may cover (reimbursable):
- Ground transportation
- Car rentals
- Entertainment expenses (for the employee or for the client)
Here are some examples of what an employee may not cover (non-reimbursable):
- In-room movies
- Airline change fees
- Parking tickets
- Airline preferred seat upgrades
- Hotel staff tips
- Toiletries or clothing purchased during the trip
- Pet boarding
You should also outline any preferred vendors (airlines, hotel chains, rental car providers) through which they should book. In addition, discuss how far in advance an employee should book a trip for approval. One week? Two weeks? Setting advance booking requirements will ensure you have plenty of time to review the plan.
Next, be sure to cover the website, booking tool, and/or corporate travel agency the employee should use to search for travel, and if use of the technology or agency is required or optional.
Are there certain categories for which employees should use a company card versus a personal card? Is all booking completed through the mobile booking tool? These are also important questions your corporate travel policy should be able to answer.
Step 3: Organize Your Corporate Travel Policy
Your corporate travel policy is ultimately a reflection of your company and how it values its employees. Below is a general outline of how it should be organized:
- Introduction: Gives an overview of the employee’s most important responsibilities; the purpose of the policies; and the importance of following policies. Be sure to include the most important information.
- List of policies: Break up the policy into short, user-friendly sections, and consider an easy-to-follow table of contents that helps travelers skip right to the information they need.
- Branding: Think about ways to use images and designs that align with your brand in order to make the policy more engaging. In addition, be sure to stick to your brand tone and voice with messaging.
- Conclusion: Include who to contact in the company for any further questions, comments or concerns and outline next steps.