A well thought out travel policy supports your company ethos and strategy, ensuring the correct balance between total cost, comfort and productivity.

If you have multiple offices, either across the country or internationally, a consolidated policy allows you to maximise your buying power and reduce your costs by negotiating lower rates for your highest volume routes.

Keep bookings within your Travel Management Company

Part of your policy should include a mandate that all business travel be booked through your Travel Management Company (TMC). As part of your Duty of Care responsibilities it is crucial that you are able to track your travellers, and having every booking in a single system is the cleanest way to do this.

However, frequently travellers are making bookings online through one of the many leisure booking engines available in the market, often driven by the belief that these sites provide the best value for money. It is not uncommon, therefore, for travellers or their bookers to go outside the TMC to make their own bookings.

Not only is the perception that leisure tools provide access to cheaper content often ill founded, the risks faced when booking through a leisure travel site far outweigh any perceived cost savings. The largest risk of booking outside of your TMC is the inability to track a traveller’s whereabouts in an emergency situation. Should anything happen that could affect your travellers, the capability to locate everyone at risk and contact them quickly whilst arranging any necessary transport to safety is paramount. In today’s society where delivering on your Duty of Care is crucial and emergency situations are an all too familiar occurrence, no business can afford the risk of losing visibility.

Controlling policy with an online tool

For travellers and bookers who prefer to book online, a booking tool managed by your TMC has several benefits. The two most significant benefits being the ability to help control costs by ensuring bookings are within policy and the ability to easily track all your travellers.

A robust travel policy will have different allowances depending on the type of travel, the seniority of the traveller and the reason for travel. A corporate online tool can process these different policies for each individual traveller, meaning a completely bespoke policy engine, prioritising cost, comfort and flexibility differently for each scenario.

Using visual guilt

To push travel bookers into staying within policy, a corporate online tool can provide ‘visual guilt’ through various methods, such as a traffic light system highlighting in-policy bookings in green and out-of-policy in either amber or red.

Green in-policy allowances may be based on the overall cost of the ticket, but can also consider the class of travel, the length of the journey and the reason for travel. This would allow, for instance, an employee who is going straight to the office, or straight to a client meeting, the additional space and comfort afforded by a higher class of travel. Someone who will have the opportunity to go straight to their hotel for the evening may warrant an Economy booking.

Out of policy bookings can be justifiable if the timing or flexibility of a booking is more important than the cost. In which case, travel options can be highlighted amber – to warn the booker that they are booking out of policy. If they choose to go ahead, it may be that your policy requires they provide a reason to justify the booking (which can then be examined in Management Information and addressed with specific travellers), or you can go a step further and require that amber bookings be pre-approved by a Travel Manager before the booking can be made. In this case, an online booking tool can send the requested itinerary to the appropriate person for approval.

For bookings that are too far out of policy to be acceptable (too high cost, with banned suppliers, or in a class of travel that is not allowed), the options will be highlighted red and cannot be booked. It allows the booker the opportunity to see what options are in the market for a comprehensive comparison, but means that their ultimate choice will still be within your business allowance.

Manage information on the go

By using your TMC’s online tool, all your bookings will be consolidated into a single system – whether made online or offline. This means that if your TMC has a mobile phone app, you can sync all of your upcoming bookings, as well as approve trips on the go if you are the Travel Manager.

With all of these elements combined in a single system along with good adoption rates across your business, your company travel will quickly align with your policies and result in far more cost effective behaviour whilst ensuring you are doing everything you can to mitigate your employee’s risk abroad.