5 common and costly travel policy mistakes to avoid

Stressed and frustrated employees, overspending on expenses and even expenses fraud. These are all risks you face if you don’t get your company travel policy right.

Without a carefully-honed policy, your employees won’t know how much to spend on what, nor to use any travel providers you might favour. Ultimately, it’ll be harder to plan your business budgets if you don’t control how much people are spending.

On the other hand, a clear, up-to-date and well-structured policy - that everyone in the business knows about - will help your bottom-line. And remember, business travel is already complicated and stressful enough, so a well-formed travel policy should help alleviate travellers’ pain, rather than add to it.

Here are some common travel policy mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t make it too long

Martine Holland-Robinson, head of sales and marketing at ACE Travel Management , says that if your travel policy is longer than two pages it may contain too much information for the reader to absorb. This will only lead to frustration and confusion.

“If the policy is too long, it will deter people from reading it and if there are multiple caveats, exceptions and details then it will be difficult for your employees to absorb and execute them,” Martine says.

2. Don’t hide it away

There’s no point in creating the perfect travel policy and then keeping it hidden away. It should be easy for all employees to find.

Martine suggests the following simple ways of communicating your policy:

  • Discuss it during new employee inductions
  • Keep a copy of the policy in your company policies and procedures manual
  • Put it on your company intranet site, if you have one
  • 3. Don’t forget to update it

    According to Good Travel Management, it’s common for travellers to complain to their employers that expense limits in their policy don’t reflect reality. After all, the costs of fuel, hotels and transport frequently change.

    The travel management company advises companies to set realistic expense limits that also take into account higher costs in different parts of the world.

    4. Avoid rogue travel bookings

    Good Travel says: “Rogue bookers making bookings directly with airlines and hotels themselves outside of travel policy cause leakage within company travel expenditure reports.”

    Rather than tackling this problem through a lengthy travel policy document, it suggests: “Why not provide a more visual version of your policy which is easy to follow? This may help with greater engagement.”

    5. Don’t be vague

    Have you ever bought a bite to eat while travelling for work and wondered if you should or shouldn’t put it on expenses? Or maybe ordered an Uber and then had doubts about whether it was against your company’s rules? Such examples show the importance of providing a clear and unambiguous travel policy.

    That also means using precise wording. For example, if you tell staff to book the lowest cost airfare, does that mean the flat-out cheapest one, or does it mean the best value considering other factors such as convenience and productivity? Make it clear.

    This also extends to explaining what to do if the unexpected happens. So, if there is a flight cancellation or other disruption, have a procedure in place, including someone your stressed traveller can contact if they need help making alternative travel arrangements.

    Taking these simple steps will make everyone’s lives easier.

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