Corporate travel is a significant part of your company’s budget – so making sure your travel policy is compliant can be key to your bottom-line results.
From helping employees understand your policy to enforcing specific guidelines and procedures for them to follow, policy compliance is key to achieving your corporate travel aims and objectives.
What makes business travelers compliant?
Giving employees more freedom and greater responsibility over how they manage their own corporate travel could actually help reduce overall spend rather than increase it.
However, while every business has its own way of managing its employees, there’s no one-size-fits-all way of making sure they stick to your corporate travel policy. So let’s look at the common reasons why some employees might not comply with your corporate travel policy.
It’s been poorly communicated
If your employees aren’t aware of your corporate travel policy, you can’t expect them to comply with it. The first step towards enforcing your corporate travel policy is making sure it’s widely circulated.
Whether you choose to deliver it in a printed document, over the intranet or in an email, the relevant channels will differ between organizations – and it’s important you know which of these is the most effective within your company if you want the policy to reach your employees.
Employees don’t understand it
Is your corporate travel policy easy to understand? If you invite employees to give feedback, you can help them grasp the guidelines and procedures they need to know about, and answer any questions they might have. This will help them to better understand how to comply with the policy.
You’ll also be able to use their suggestions to make sure your corporate travel policy is consistently evolving and improving alongside the needs of both your business and your employees.
Employees are breaching it accidentally
For the most part, business travelers want to do what’s right for their company, but occasionally employees might breach policy without realizing it. Often this is because they’re not clear whether certain rules are mandatory.
Improve travel policy compliance in your organization by making employees aware of guidelines and procedures. To do this you must first have a corporate travel policy that covers everything from airline bookings, to hotel reservations and ground transportation.
There also needs to be clear guidance on issues such as approval procedures, additional areas of expenditure, and gifts and favors, so they’re clear on what is expected of them at every point of their business trip.
Employees are knowingly breaching it
According to a study by the London School of Economics, there are some areas of policy that business travelers tend to ignore more than others. Getting the right approval before making a booking, and abiding by restrictions for airfares and hotels, are the most common rules employees tend to ignore.
You can improve travel compliance around these areas by using software such as your online booking tool, which only displays airfare and accommodation results that fall within policy guidelines, giving the traveler no choice but to work with the policy.
5 ways to improve your travel policy compliance
Your methods of improving corporate travel compliance must be adapted to your business culture, and be flexible around your employees, industry and economy. However, there are a number of general strategies for boosting policy compliance that make a good starting point for enforcing your corporate travel guidelines and procedures.
Educate your travelers
It’s good practice to involve employees in any initiative that affects them – and this is particularly important when writing a corporate travel policy. While the entire policy document itself might be delivered in an email, over the intranet or as a print-out, taking extra time to guide employees around the processes most relevant to them can ensure policy compliance in those areas.
One way of doing this would be to set up workshops about the correct way to book hotels, change airlines and gain approval. Better still, if corporate travel training was a key part of your company’s induction process your new hires would be well-versed in your policy guidelines from day one, naturally improving travel compliance over time.
Use a corporate travel agency
Hiring a corporate travel management specialist can really boost policy compliance. Teaming up with a company such as Carlson Wagonlit Travel will give you access to innovative software, providing a powerful overview of what’s being spent where, when and by whom. It means you’ll know instantly if a traveler has booked outside of policy.
Being at the forefront of corporate travel compliance trends and best practice means our industry expertise will keep you ahead of the curve – and head of your competitors – when it comes to outlining and enforcing an effective travel policy.
Communicate policy guidelines
The success of your corporate travel policy rests on how effectively it’s communicated. This doesn’t just mean sending an email to all your business travelers with the policy document attached – it means actively engaging with them to make sure they understand it.
Clarify the preferred booking channels, types of expenses they can claim, and key points of contact – taking care to explain why those decisions have been made. To improve policy compliance, communicating with your employees about travel policy needs to be an ongoing process.
You can do this by using apps like CWT Program Messenger to get in touch with business travelers while they’re on the road, when you need to remind them of policy or make them aware of any changes.
Use travel booking tools
With an abundance of cutting-edge technology on the market, your company has a range of innovative software it can harness to improve corporate travel policy compliance. Some tools allow travel managers to make sure employees stay within the policy’s parameters.
For example, the CWT AnalytIQs software lets you see in real-time when travelers are booking outside of policy and get in touch through targeted messages to help them make better decisions. This technology empowers you to see when there’s been a policy breach, and react instantly, so you can keep on top of your corporate travel spending.
Restrict expense reimbursement
Clear and concise rules on expenses are essential for any good corporate travel policy. Any confusion over whether, for example, room service charges are included in the list of permitted expenses, could result in your company – or the traveler – facing a significant outlay in unnecessary costs.
To avoid this, all aspects of accommodation, meals, tips, entertainment and additional travel should be factored into a robust reimbursement procedure. Refusing to reimburse travelers for erroneous claims is a simple but effective way of discouraging them from breaching policy, therefore improving travel compliance in this area.
Measuring your compliance
To improve travel policy compliance, you need to be able to measure performance by setting goals and metrics for:
Making time efficiencies
Make a note of how much time you and your travelers are spending on planning and making business trips, and compare it over a period of weeks and months. You might find you can help your employees become more productive on the road by using apps such as CWT To Go™.
This app syncs employees’ travel schedules with their business smartphone calendars, giving them crucial travel information when they need it – so they have more time to work.
Optimizing travel budgets
For an accurate real-time overview of your corporate travel spending, CWT AnalytIQs gives you a detailed analysis of specific areas of expenditure. This allows you to measure your spending against your budget targets, draw conclusions and make financial decisions across a broad range of areas.
Reducing travel expenses
CWT AnalytIQs software also gives you real-time insights into how your corporate travel budget is being spent to help you identify key opportunities for savings – and allow you to keep on top of your reimbursement guidelines and procedures.
Improving employee satisfaction
By regularly surveying travelers to see if their needs are being met, your company can make necessary changes to guidelines and procedures, improve employee engagement and ultimately boost policy compliance.
A corporate travel policy will help you reduce your business’s travel spend, meet your objectives and improve employee security. But you won’t see any of these benefits if your business travelers don’t comply with it.
Just look at the facts: businesses with travel compliance rates of more than 80% spend less on expenses per business traveler, according to the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply. To achieve this, you must be flexible to the needs of your employees, business and industry.