It's well documented that COVID-19 has had a lasting, if not permanent, impact on the way we live and work. The pandemic has reshaped the business travel industry and, to ensure staff safety and wellbeing, companies are required to adapt to an ever-changing situation. If your staff travel for business purposes of any kind, it is essential that you have a robust travel policy in place. This will help to keep your employees safe, protect your organisation and keep your costs in check.
Travel managers across the world have adapted their corporate policies to ensure that their colleagues can return safely to business meetings, conferences and events across the globe.
Are you looking to write or update your corporate travel policy? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Follow our top tips to ensure your company travel policy is clear for your employees and beneficial to your business.
What is a corporate travel policy?
A company travel policy is, in simple terms, a guide that details all the necessary parameters, information and procedures for both domestic and international travel.
A well-crafted travel policy will not only keep your employees safe, but also help to save your company money and safeguard your business against legal ramifications caused by negligence.
Your travel policy should be unique to your organisation, with your purpose of business and the size of your organisation being key factors that shape the document.
Why is a good travel policy important?
Writing a robust travel policy is about far more than just rules and restrictions. Having a policy that fits your company’s culture and supports your employee’s personal preferences can have a notable impact on the success of your business and the happiness of your employees.
Your travel policy needs to cover every part of your traveller's itinerary, as this reduces the likelihood of running into safety hazards, significant costs, and legal issues. Employee safety should be your travel policy’s primary goal. A well put together policy will put your employee’s safety at heart, providing all-important peace of mind to travellers that you care about their welfare.
A clear travel policy will positively impact your business by minimising any confusion and hassle with bookings, whilst providing your employees with the flexibility and autonomy to book their own travel.
How your travel policy can benefit your business
By managing business travel effectively through a successful travel policy, you can eliminate corporate travel confusion and bring a mass of benefits to you, your employees, and your organisation.
Here are just some of the benefits your workplace travel policy can bring:
Champion traveller confidence and safety
Streamline the process
Achieve firm control over your corporate travel spend
Boost employee satisfaction and support staff retention
Help with the recruiting of staff by positioning yourself as a responsible employer
Support employee work-life balance
Improve your image with clients, customers and suppliers
Combat risk of encountering legal issues
Improve time management and visibility
Enhance communication and engagement
Improve your corporate social responsibility
Discover what's working and what isn’t
Stay current with travel trends and technology
Top tips for creating a great corporate travel policy
There’s a lot to consider when creating an all-encompassing travel policy, so we’ve compiled our top tips to help you write a robust document for you and your employees:
1. Define your objectives
Before creating or updating your travel policy, it’s a good idea to set your policy priorities.
Some areas to consider include:
Is your goal to improve traveller safety?
Do you want to reduce travel costs?
Are you wanting to simplify the booking process?
How will it boost internal efficiencies?
Can your organisation reduce its environmental impact?
Are you seeking to increase compliance?
Would you like to boost employee freedom and flexibility?
Establishing your priorities will guide your policy. Compile and analyse your company’s business travel data before starting to identify any trends, areas that work well or issues from the past. A good analysis will lead to better decision making.
2. Think like a traveller
The key to writing an effective travel policy is to balance your business goals with your employee’s needs. Your employees should be at the heart of your travel policy; therefore, it’s a good idea to get their feedback on which areas they think work well or may need improvement. Outline what problems have arisen in the past and how these can be prevented in the future.
Consider the amount of freedom you wish to give your employees. Empowering your employees through offering flexible choices will increase employee satisfaction. Many employers now factor in ‘bleisure’ options, blending business and leisure travel into one trip by allowing them to add annual leave onto their stay for a better work-life balance.
After all, happy employees that feel safe, comfortable and valued will work more effectively.
3. Set clear guidelines
It’s a good idea to make your travel policy as detailed as possible, whilst still being clear and concise. Your employees are unlikely to read a document that is too text-heavy, so make sure it is easy to understand and locate information.
Incorporating the following will ensure an effective corporate travel policy:
Your booking processes and approved travel booking tool/s
Expense reporting, allowances, and limits
Travel and mileage reimbursement processes
Duty of care policy
Preferred suppliers (hotels, managed taxi organisation, airline, etc)
Travel insurance details
Any special exception of rules (e.g. more expensive cities or routes)
The approval process for trips that exceed the allowable costs
Out of hours contacts
Travel debriefing process
Crisis management and emergency procedures — ensure your travellers know what to do and where to go if an incident occurs, no matter the time or their location
4. Make sure your travel policy is easily accessible and updated and communicated regularly
After laying the foundations, it's time to decide how to communicate and monitor your travel policy. Your policy should adapt and grow alongside your business. Therefore, it's important to keep an eye on the effectiveness and performance of your travel policy, revisiting it regularly so you can track your targets and improve accordingly.
It’s best practice to make your corporate travel policy available for your staff to access at any time. We recommend storing it on your organisation’s intranet or online booking tool. It’s also a good idea for travel managers to remind employees of the travel policy regularly via email, at minimum once every 6-12 months.
Don’t be afraid of over-communicating your policy as this is better than under communicating.
The impact of covid-19 on corporate travel
Covid-19 brought travel to a standstill. The new normal has meant that employers are having to factor in how the pandemic could still impact their day-to-day operations.
Here are some key considerations you might want to include in your post-pandemic corporate travel policy:
Follow the right advice — Your travel policy must be based on recommendations from official authorities such as WHO, OSHA and CDC. Make sure to include these websites in your policy for information on how, where and when to travel.
An analysis of which countries are lower or higher risk areas — Remember to communicate which locations require COVID-19 tests, vaccination certificates or mandatory quarantine upon arrival with your employees.
List the travel precautions needed — Stress the importance of your business travellers taking certain measures to protect themselves and others. This includes wearing a face covering, frequent washing of hands, using sanitiser and practicing social distancing.
Procedure in the event of COVID-19 infection — Be sure to include details on the steps your business travellers should take if they were to test positive whilst on a trip.
Restoring traveller confidence — The pandemic has catapulted employee safety to the forefront of every business’ operations. It’s important to understand your employee’s individual views on how safe they feel when on the road and ensure your policy takes everybody’s preferences into consideration.
Factor in changes and cancellations — With restrictions continually changing, ensuring any plans can be changed or cancelled is essential to avoid incurring significant costs.
Alternative transport options — Whether your corporate travel plans have switched from international to domestic, or your travellers used to favour car share over rail, you might need to revisit your policy’s transport options post pandemic.
Why it’s important for taxis to be included in your corporate travel policy
It is highly important to not overlook taxi travel when writing your travel policy. As one of the least regulated modes of transport, taxi travel is often left to be arranged by the employee, which means the employer has no way of locating their traveller should an incident occur.
Employers have a duty to know where their employees are at all times when travelling for business, therefore it is essential that someone in your organisation is aware of each employees chosen taxi provider and can track the employee and can obtain driver and vehicle details should you need.
We therefore recommend incorporating a managed taxi programme into your travel policy, to take back the control and ensure any risk or liability is mitigated.
A managed taxi programme, such as CMACs, can deliver a multitude of benefits to both your company and your travellers, including:
Ensures full visibility of when and where employees are travelling to
Allocates trusted and reliable taxi providers that have been vetted prior to onboarding
Driver and vehicle information is shared with the traveller before their trip
Simpler booking options mean you can take back control from your employees
Optimises expenditure - streamlines administration and allows complete control over travel costs
Enhances the safety of your employees
Travellers have peace of mind that each journey is recorded and supported through a 24/7/365 contact centre
CMACs managed taxi service takes the hassle of booking travel arrangements and provides total, end-to-end duty of care, making business travel much safer for all.
Remember to keep your employee's needs, safety, and long-term job satisfaction at the forefront of your policy, whilst aligning your objectives with the culture of the company.
It is a good idea to get somebody outside of the business to have a read through and get their feedback on any areas of uncertainty before you communicate your policy with your employees.
Before you put it into action, considering the following will help you to address any loopholes:
Are you able to always pinpoint your employee’s exact whereabouts?
Does your travel policy tell your employees what to do if an issue / crisis arises when travelling for business?
Have you factored in your organisation’s emergency contact details?
Are you able to track and monitor spend? Have you included spend or travel limits?
Do you have any preferred suppliers?
Is your booking process clear?
Is your document easy to navigate, can your employees easily find what they’re looking for from the contents?
Are you able to cancel or amend your trips if you need to?
Have you included taxi travel in your corporate travel policy?
We hope this guide has provided you with a detailed understanding of what your travel policy should include. An equal balance of guidelines, mandatory policies and flexibility should build a winning travel policy for your organisation.