Part of any good travel programme is a strong policy. But establishing one that works for your business and employee travel patterns can sometimes be complex, and ensuring total compliance can be even trickier. A robust, well thought out and easy to understand travel policy, that is mandated across your company, will achieve the best results. The most effective way to achieve this is to work in close partnership with your Travel Management Company (TMC).

The benefits of a well-balanced policy

One of the purposes of a travel policy is to help ensure your travel programme balances cost versus comfort appropriately. It can ensure that higher price bookings are only made with good reason, and can even help encourage the use of phone and video conferencing, when appropriate, to reduce the overall air miles covered by your members of staff.

Online booking and ‘visual guilt’

With the use of online booking tools, an automated policy can help influence booking choice by creating ‘visual guilt.’ Flights, hotels, and rail options can be colour coded as green when in policy and red when strictly out of policy. But an advanced feature is yellow ‘reason required’ coding. If your policy allows for higher spend under certain circumstances, a sophisticated online tool can apply that logic as well. These practices are shown to help improve compliance and quickly reduce unnecessary costs.

What to include in your policy

A lot of different aspects can be incorporated into a travel policy. Job title is a common differentiator – allowing more senior members of staff to travel on a higher class than more junior colleagues. The type of travel is also often considered, with short haul flights booked with low cost carriers, or economy class, and long haul travellers permitted to book Business Class.

‘Reason for Travel’ is not always considered, and can be difficult to mandate without the help of a TMC. But when it is implemented, it can help greatly improve your cost savings, without sacrificing comfort when that is the priority.

How ‘Reason for Travel’ can improve your policy

Instead of sticking to the simple rule of short haul must be economy, long haul can be Business Class, ‘Reason for Travel‘ can refine your booking policy even further.

A member of staff who is arriving on an evening flight and heading straight to a hotel can justifiably travel in a lower class of cabin, even on long haul flights. So too, perhaps, can anyone travelling for internal matters only, i.e. working in one of your office locations. You can add incentives by allowing Business Class bookings for internal travel, as long as the booking is made far in advance (e.g. at least four weeks), as this can often save money compared to even an Economy Class last minute booking.

However, staff members who are coming off a plane and straight to any client-facing meetings need to be well-rested and ready to work. In these cases, Business Class is certainly justifiable and a necessary business cost.

Re-evaluate your travel policy with Management Information

It can be a complex job to look at your travel policies and consider all the different ways you can help balance cost and comfort.

With comprehensive Management Information and an experienced Business Travel Consultant on hand, a TMC can work in partnership with you to ensure every business need is considered in your policy and prioritise appropriately.

Establishing your most frequent travel routes and destinations can be a first step to finding out if route deals with particular airlines can help, or a Preferred Property Programme with certain hotels. Incentivising advanced booking and mandating that a specific reason must be given for travel over a certain price point can both help drive down costs.

Mandating your policy

The key to a successful travel policy is mandating its use on every level of the business. Only then can you be sure that your Travel Programme is working at its absolute best for both the business and staff members.