Having a corporate travel policy for your employees is important – in fact, it is crucial. Consider that in the past travel reservations were done by travel agents, mainly over the phone or via fax, meant that the control was largely in the hands of the company. Today, with technology and information how it is, and with the ability to book just about anything (by anyone!) with the touch of a finger, makes the need for a corporate travel policy a must. In order to create the trust necessary for employees to book their own travel yet adhere to guidelines that will keep your company safe, secure, and on budget, you need these four must-haves on your policy:
Set a clear policy on the process by which your employees book their travel. In your guidelines, spell out how and when flights or car rentals are allowed to be booked as well as what budget is allowed for each component. If there are specific hotels associated with a conference, for example, specify that staying in that hotel is preferred. If you have a staff travel manager, be sure they are available for any questions that might arise in the process.
Flexibility and Options
Choices in the marketplace are abundant. With the ease in which anyone can find competitive pricing, simply deciding on travel options can be mind-boggling. In your travel policy, allow some flexibility when booking specific components. If your employee is a member of a rewards program, and it fits into the allowed budget of their travel, allow the option as long as they understand their responsibility is always to the company in the end.
Absolutely write in a set of security guidelines in your corporate travel policy. Identity theft is rampant as is potential personal theft. Advise that employees travel in groups as much as possible (when on company time), and to use their best judgment when booking cars and late night off-hours fun.
There should be a clear set of guidelines and expectations as far as business expenses are concerned. Most employers list a per diem that employees can spend on meals each day when on travel. Does that include alcohol? How much will you approve for tips (20% is standard)? What is allowed to be spent on clients at meals? Further, tracking expenses, compiling receipts, and handing to accounting should be done in a timely manner post-trip – keep a firm handle on this.
A corporate travel policy is an absolute must for any company that has employees who will be traveling. Plan ahead to have a policy in writing (both hard and soft copies) that each employee receives when they start with your business, that is available at all times, and that is updated based on any changes in economics or expectations.