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Building a travel policy is more than just about setting rules and budgets. The key to creating the best travel policy for your company is to strike the perfect balance between your business goals and employee needs.

Having a policy that supports business travellers from start to finish can positively impact your bottom line. Especially since business travel generates huge value for businesses. For every $1 spent on business travel, the average return of investment (ROI) is between $10 to $14.99, according to a 2009 report by Oxford Economics.

If you are looking to create a travel policy for your company, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide explains:

  • What a company travel policy is
  • Why it is important
  • How to write a travel policy and best practices
  • How automating your travel policy can benefit your business.

What is a company travel policy?

In short, a company travel policy is a guidebook that covers all the rules and procedures of business travel for its employees. The is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to creating travel policies. A number of factors such as the size of your company, nature of business and purpose of business travel will shape your travel policy. 

The travel policy can usually be accessed on the company’s internal website. But if your company uses a travel management app, it may implement an automated policy for greater compliance and smoother approval processes.   

Why is a good travel policy important?

Ideally, a good company travel policy should remove any “grey areas” for employees and clearly define all information on travel cost, safety and booking procedures. In fact, a well-crafted travel policy will also encourage employees to optimally budget their business trips, which in turn, will save the company money. 

Crafting your travel policy also gives your company an opportunity to embrace changes and technological opportunities. Using a business travel management tool for bookings can result in quicker travel bookings and up to 30% in cost savings. There is no better time to adopt best practices and do away with unnecessarily rigid policies.

The climate of uncertainty caused by the global pandemic is a major reason to put your employees at the heart of your travel programme. Including Duty of Care and insurance details in your travel policy reassures employees of their travel safety and shows your appreciation. Travel policies can go a long way in keeping employees happy and productive. 

What should your company travel policy include?

If you are creating a company travel policy for the first time or reassessing your current one, here are some details it should include:

  • How to book business trips through your company’s approved booking tool
  • Allocated travel costs across employee tiers and departments (flights, hotels, transport, car rental, meal allowances)
  • Travel and mileage claims process
  • Company’s preferred airline, hotel chain or other vendors
  • Travel insurance coverage details
  • Company’s Duty of Care
  • Approval process for business trips above budget limit
  • Budget exceptions for certain cities (Eg. Business travel costs in Tokyo is second highest worldwide behind New York)
TruTrips smart travel policy builder
TruTrip’s smart policy tool

Importantly, your company travel policy should be applicable to everyone who travels on behalf of your company including members of the board, executive managers, other employees and corporate guests. A travel management tool can be particularly handy for this purpose. You can set different policies across employee groups and even make policy exceptions.

How to write your company travel policy?

Think of your company travel policy as a way to provide support to employees and add value to your business. Before jumping into a long list of things employees can or cannot do, consider the benefits that each part of the policy will bring.

Ultimately, it should make business travel as easy and seamless as possible, save business costs and take care of your employees’ needs. To help you get started, here is a 5-step guide to writing your company travel policy:

1) Understand travel practices of your people

Are you crafting a travel policy from scratch or looking to upgrade your current one? Either way, understanding why and how your employees travel will help shape your policy. Since 82% of business travellers in Asia Pacific are more likely to book hotel stays using online tools, using a travel management service with vast choice is an ideal step. 

Just remember, the copy paste approach doesn’t work when it comes to travel policy. Your policy should best reflect the needs of your people and business. If your company has increased in size, it is smart to base your policy on the different types of business travel across departments.

One tangible way of understanding your employees’ needs is through their past travel bookings and expenses. You may be able to identify booking trends and find areas for saving travel costs.

Expense management
Breakdown of company travel expenses on TruTrip

 

2) Set your policy goals

Assess your top priorities for updating or creating your company travel policy. Do you want to reduce business travel costs? Are you looking for easier bookings and improved traveller safety? Clearly-defined goals will help ensure your travel policy is set up to achieve your targets.  

Other good goals to set include increased policy compliance, better expense tracking, smoother booking approvals and convenience for business travellers. Rank and create a checklist for your business priorities so nothing is left out.

3) Make people the “heart” of your travel policy

Employees will depend heavily on the policy during business trips. Now that your goals are clear, it is important to engage with a diverse group of employees to gather insights. Your company C-level executives may have plans for reducing travel costs, improving efficiency, and prioritising Duty of care.

Identify frequent business travellers within your company and ask for their thoughts on what works and areas for improvement. They will be able to shed light on challenges and concerns from past business travel. Not only will you keep employees happy – but taking care of your people can help you avoid significant costs and unexpected legal issues. 

trutrip travellers dashboard
TruTrip’s traveller dashboard provides travel risk alerts

The COVID-19 global pandemic has brought up the pressing need for better Duty of care and traveller safety measures. Even before the pandemic, a quarter of business travellers in Asia claim that their employers do not adequately communicate their duty of care responsibility.

Incorporating a solid duty of care programme will give both business travellers and business owners peace of mind. Consider using a  travel management solution that provides up-to-date travel risk alerts, real-time traveller tracking, travel restriction information and 24/7 contact support should your employees need help.

4) Choose your technology and flexibility

How flexible should your company travel policy be? This depends on the level of freedom you want to give your travellers. McKinsey’s 2015 report shows that Asian business travellers prioritise convenience and seek to combine business travel with leisure. Some preferences include direct flights, close distance to work and high speed Wi-Fi. 

Of course, you can adjust the level of booking autonomy and travel budgets based on your business needs. But choosing the right technology for your travel management can help you strike a balance between flexibility and policy compliance. Setting your budget thresholds within your travel booking tool will result in automatic policy compliance. If your policy allows exceptions, booking requests above limit will be flagged to travel managers for approval.

5) Write and enforce your travel policy

Congratulations, you are now ready to draft your company travel policy! Once your company travel policy is written, seek approval from the relevant stakeholders and senior management. Make sure the travel policy is readily available on your company’s internal website, and if your company uses a travel management platform, remember to update the thresholds and necessary information. 

It is also good practice to keep an open line of communication with frequent business travellers in your company. In order to establish greater trust, gather feedback about the travel policy, share traveller safety guidelines and reiterate objectives of the travel programme from time to time. 


Business travel management that understands

Looking for the right business travel solution? TruTrip has got you covered with its smart policy tools, travel risk alerts and seamless booking experience. Book a demo or get in touch with us, we’ll be happy to show you around. 

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