Travel managers face a significant challenge when pushing for greater business travel compliance: Business travelers are far more focused on comfort than savings.
That’s not to say that your travelers are constantly and intentionally spending more than they should on flights, hotels and cab rides. Rather, breakdowns in compliance typically appear when there’s an opportunity for greater comfort or convenience: a little more legroom, a little nicer hotel, a direct flight rather than a connection.
How can you help your travelers be as comfortable as possible while also reducing costs? Here are common sense tips on striking that perfect balance while enforcing your company’s travel policy.
Start With the Right Policy
Travel policies are comprehensive by nature. And they should be. A lot of ins and outs, details and contingencies, come up while your company’s employees are out on the road. It’s only natural to want to address as much as possible through a detailed policy.
But, let’s be honest, your employees haven’t read every word in a travel policy that most likely stretches beyond 100 pages. So what’s the solution?
Make the most relevant aspects of your travel policy as accessible as possible. Consider creating an FAQs section at the start of the policy or somewhere on your corporate intranet that provides each business traveler with fast and easy information when he or she needs it.
Also, it’s essential that your policy evolves and adapts along with trends and new developments in the travel industry. Breakdowns in travel policy compliance often come when your travelers take advantage of something new. For example, when Uber first arrived on the scene, companies had no guidelines that addressed whether or not a corporate traveler could use it. Be aware of how travel is changing, and be responsive with your travel policy.
Offer Regular Trainings
Many of your employees don’t know your travel policies. Some don’t know the policies are mandatory. And still others may not know that you even have a travel policy or expense management guidelines. That’s why regular trainings are so important to business travel management.
During regular trainings, address what the policies are, but also focus on why you have travel management policies in the first place. Your travelers may often see flights and hotel stays that appear to be less expensive on airline or hotel sites, or even third-party aggregators like Kayak. But your travelers should be aware that you enjoy pre-negotiated rates and other perks that may make their trips and stays less expensive than they appear.
Regular training is also an opportunity to ensure your travelers are comfortable using the various technologies that serve as part of your travel policy. If your travelers don’t understand how to use (or why to use) an online booking system or other tools, it’s going to be that much harder for them to thrive under the travel policy.
Provide the Right Combination of Tools
Modern, easy-to-use technology is vital to business travel compliance. Your travelers need a complete booking tool that makes everything simple from start to finish, from searching for trips through filing expenses.
A complete booking tool (like Concur, Deem and others) walks a traveler through his or her cost-approved options for an upcoming trip. After a trip is booked, the right technology can continue searching for better deals, help manage changes, cancellations and rebookings, plus more. And, even after a trip is complete, a modern booking tool can also integrate with expense reporting for automation and ease of filing.
When you need assistance choosing a comprehensive range of tools, a business travel agency like JTB Business Travel can provide expert guidance and help you identify the right tool for your company’s needs.
Enforcing Your Policy
Business travelers lead demanding lives. They fly from time zone to time zone, sometimes continent to continent, and they regularly spend time away from their families and homes.
For these reasons and more, it can feel harsh to punish them for compliance failures. What’s the best way to enforce your policy and make sure your travelers are following guidelines? You can choose from among 3 broad categories:
- Freedom: You can find ways to give your travelers more freedom and control in their booking. The more freedom and control your travelers enjoy, the better compliance is going to be. The right technology (as mentioned above) can help deliver that freedom and control.
- Incentives: Many companies are finding ways to incentivize their employees for business travel compliance. For example, some offer gift cards and similar rewards for cost savings achieved on the road.
- Reminders: This should be your tactic of last resort. You can choose to send regular email reminders to travelers or groups that are struggling with compliance, or you can even refuse reimbursement for non-compliant expenditures. That said, it’s far easier and more effective to invest upfront time and energy in developing tools and trainings that will help your travelers be successful.
The trouble with constant reminders is that most business travelers are experienced and long-tenured team members. They are constantly spending time on the road, and they deserve as much support and respect as possible. For best results, find ways to craft a travel policy that gives them as much freedom and control as possible, and consider incentives that further encourage compliance.
Secure the Right Business Travel Agency
Customer service is also a key to business travel compliance. Your travelers need an advisor they can turn to when they have questions or challenges before, during or after trips.
At JTB Business Travel, we offer dedicated travel advisors who are available online or by phone. They can serve as a knowledge base for your travelers, helping to uncover savings and answer questions in real-time. Behind everything our advisors say, do and recommend is our focus on a common sense approach to business travel.
Contact us today about your business travel needs.