The MacNair Travel Leadership Blog

5 Travel Policy Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Posted by Mike MacNair on May 26, 2016 12:00:00 PM

5 Travel Policy Mistakes You Can’t Afford to MakeWhy do corporate travel policies fail? There can be many reasons including not enough stakeholder buy-in, user adoption, clunky payment systems, and an overly complex policy.

If you’re a corporate travel manager, you know that when your travel policy fails it’s a sign of problems on multiple fronts. You leave yourself open to liabilities if employees are non-compliant and you don’t meet business goals when it comes to budget and procedures.

It’s no secret that T&E can be the largest line item on your company’s budget after salaries. Developing a comprehensive, yet easy to follow travel policy can make a dramatic impact on your bottom line. But where do you start?

First, consider the value of travel management. You probably already realize the many important roles that travel managers play, which includes ensuring your policy avoids costly mistakes. You can make sure the executive team knows it too when you incorporate the following strategies in your travel program.

Here are 5 Mistakes to Avoid:

1. Not Assessing Your Current Travel Policy

 If you’re not sure where the gaps lie in your current policy, it’s tough to prioritize. But don’t let a lack of data prevent you from doing anything at all. Review it with your travel team and see where you think the gaps lie on paper and where they lie from the perspective of your travelers.

You might find that your top travelers routinely go “rogue” and book premium seats on the airline of their choosing. They use Uber when they arrive at their destination and they expense it all on their personal credit card.

On the other hand, you may find your travelers routinely book flights with additional connections because it’s “cheaper”, even though the hours spent waiting around airports is largely unproductive time.

It’s up to your travel policy to meet your business goals and adhere to your company culture. One way you can do that is have clear objectives and spell out simple procedures for your business travelers.

2. Eliminate Ambiguity

This is one of the biggest causes of travel policy failure - especially when it comes to costs. Outline exactly what the “lowest cost airfare” means to your company. Is it the lowest dollar amount or the best value as it relates to your traveler’s objectives and productivity? Sometimes the cost is measured in convenience rather than dollars.

Likewise, outline the steps that your travelers should take if they fall into an unplanned scenario. Today’s travel is filled with routine flight cancellations and the possibility of terrorist attacks. Strategic travel management ensures your employees know who to call and have a way to reach them if something should happen and they need alternate arrangements.

3. Not Outlining Your Goals and Objectives 

Many times, companies aren’t sure of the goals they want to meet in the first place. It’s not surprising since there are so many issues to address. Do you want to increase risk mitigation for your employees? Help them streamline their booking and reimbursement processes? 

When you go through a travel policy workbook exercise with your stakeholders, you’ll get a clear idea of their priorities.

That way you can review your business objectives and narrow everything down to your top 3-5 strategic goals. That will help you focus so you can move ahead.

4. Not Getting Buy-In Ahead of Time

Make sure your travel policy fits your company culture. The worst mistake you make is to create a travel policy in secret and then unleash it without warning. Like most initiatives delivered in this way, it’s not likely to be embraced.

Instead you’ll want to create a team of stakeholders from various departments as well as include top business travelers. That way you can create a set of policies that works for everyone.

Maybe employees don’t use the current system because it’s outdated or complex and you realize current travel management software can save your entire team hours of time on every trip. Then, researching such software becomes a major objective.

5Ignore technology 

It’s 2016 and technology keeps rising in sophistication. Uber, AirBnB, online booking tools that streamline booking and reimbursement processes; all of these can impact your T&E bottom line. In some cases they’ll save money and increase convenience and in others they may not.

However, you won’t know if you don’t gain context for what’s available and you won’t know what other similar size companies are doing. An experienced travel management company (TMC) can provide you with best practices and important data points in this area. A TMC can also help you make sense of the data in order to understand what technology and automation systems will be the right fit for your organization.

Are you ready to review your corporate travel policy to ensure you’re not making these mistakes? Let us know your top priorities in the comments below.

If you need help, download the Travel Policy Workbook to help you develop a framework.

Travel Policy Workbook

Topics: travel policy