By Julia Versaci 02.07.18

When is the last time you updated your travel policy? Many companies write their travel policy once and then forget about it. Despite the seemingly endless length of many policies, often key conditions are missing as travel technology and business traveler preferences change.

A travel policy must evolve to meet business objectives. Small changes in travel habits can mean big savings. The question becomes where to start?

Your policy compliance and transaction data will be useful when updating any policy. One approach is to look first at issues that seem to be occurring most often. Repeated violations can mean that travelers are finding a certain policy frustrating, outdated or not applicable to them. An artificial intelligence-based solution like Oversight’s Insights On Demand™ provides you with one-click visibility to find the root causes of recurring violations and manage repeat offenders.

We know of one company that quickly changed its “no in-room movie” policy after they began analyzing spending patterns across all transactions and discovered that travelers who watched in-room movies spent considerably less during their hotel stay than those who did not. Beyond hard data, you also need the opinions of your travelers. Few things at work are more personal to an employee than their business-travel experience. Today, improving traveler wellbeing and reducing traveler risk is as important as managing business travel costs. Given this shift, here are five areas you may want to evaluate for updates to your travel policy:

1. Reimburse seat upgrade fees and supplemental purchases

Fast-track passes (e.g. TSA PreCheck or early boarding) and pre-reserved seats are some of the most commonly purchased upgrades in business air travel. Even still, many policies haven’t caught up with these options. But it’s not just policy that should be addressed. Companies should look to negotiate with suppliers to include fast-track, baggage, and seat upgrade fees in contracts. If it’s not possible to update supplier contracts, consider making these incentives reimbursable for frequent travelers, which shows them that their time and comfort are important. Your employees with long legs will definitely appreciate it. Of course, you’ll need to determine what qualifies as a frequent traveler. A good place to start is someone who makes 12 or more trips per year

2. Make the most of downtime delays

Delays happen. In the busiest airports for business travel delays seem rampant. Your business travelers can make the most of this downtime and turn it into work time with a membership to a global lounge program. These clubs typically offer a comfortable lounge with free Wi-Fi and complimentary food and drinks, eliminating expenses elsewhere and saving your travelers added frustration. Update your policy to offer frequent business travelers membership into club programs to maximize time spent on the ground.

3. Embrace self-service technology

Business travelers like self-service apps to check flight status, access boarding passes, change hotel or flight booking, navigate to destinations, and book rides. Travel policy needs to address these apps and encourage travelers to download the company’s preferred apps, so you can best track travelers’ whereabouts and promote in-policy behavior. Use duty of care concerns to help travelers understand that booking through the proper channels also helps to ensure their safety.

4. Accept the sharing economy for rooms and rides

Don’t fight it; the sharing economy is here to stay and has benefits for your travelers and your company. A Global Business Travel Association survey found that half of corporate travel polices don’t explicitly allow for ride-hailing apps and 70% make no mention of using home-rental services. These services are easy to use, which makes travelers happy, and often cheaper. Staying tied to outdated policies that don’t account for what travelers want is a surefire way to drive travelers to sidestep policy

5. Get flexible

Someday personalized travel will be the new normal. Today, it can be a differentiator for your company as an incentive to attract candidates. A flexible travel policy can consider such factors as travel patterns, job role, travel budget, and individual preferences to increase traveler satisfaction.

Many organizations are looking at ways to update their travel policies to address travelers’ well-being and to provide perks that make their road warriors feel more appreciated. Your travel policy is more than a document full of rules and restrictions – it’s also a reflection of your company’s values and culture. Updating your entire travel policy handbook once a year or so is a good practice. However, it’s equally important to keep monitoring and adapting your policies continually as ongoing business needs change.

change empSee how AI-based travel expense analysis provides the visibility into your data that you need to create better policies and deliver T&E savings.

See Related Blog Posts: Travel & Expense, Purchase Card

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