It’s that time of year when we deep dive into providing consulting services to our customers regarding the best ways to manage T&E, the second largest controllable cost for the average U.S. organization. In providing guidance in how to best manage this line item, we start with a review of the organization’s travel and expense policy. Ensuring they are current, effective and complete, balanced, and in alignment with business objectives are the key benefits to updating this “job aide.” Sure, at times business process isn’t often top of mind and updating it can easily get put on the back burner. There always seems to be something that comes up that takes priority and distracts you from this task. In fact, many organizations have travel policies that no one has taken a look at, much less updated, in 10 years or more. On top of that, travelers are sometimes unaware that a policy even exists and they often go rogue.
When your policy is done right, it will keep your travelers safe, protect your company culture, improve your preferred supplier relationships and result in savings for your organization. Here are four benefits to regularly review your T&E policy:
With technology constantly changing, like advancements in integrated travel and expense or automated pre-trip authorization, new options like Uber and Lyft becoming more popular among road warriors, split ticketing and bundled fares confusing the marketplace, new threats coming our way every day, and prices constantly changing, it is important to take a look at your policy every year and address areas that need to be updated to make it current.
Making the case for these processes is often under articulated. In articulating the best possible processes and direction for travel and expense to meet your business objectives is key to ensuring you gain better savings, productivity, support and control in your travel program. Writing the policy as your policy with defined partners and technologies behind it versus a document that simply offers up your TMC’s services is very useful.
Direction, hints, tools and more that take the employee from requesting travel, your making arrangements in the preferred fashion, making changes, handling issues and safety concerns on the road, and submitting an expense report should all be covered within this tool to make the company more profitable and effective. Many organizations are diving deeper into the tools and suppliers that can help keep employees safer on the road while more and better data is collected.
Travel policies should include recommended procedures regarding the safety of all employees who travel. You want to ensure that the appropriate partners have been secured to keep employees and the company safe and protected. Emergency communication procedures such as checking in with a risk mitigation company, what to do in case of a weather emergency, where to get health-related answers, or what to do in case of a terrorist act should all be addressed in your policy as well. Once you have your policy updated and have buy-in from senior management, (as mentioned above) having a focus on communicating these procedures to your employees should improve your results. I am sure you will all agree that traveler safety is of the upmost importance to any organization.
Allowing travelers to use ineffective sites that use predictive technology and biased search tools to find fares will cost the company more. Overly securitizing each reservations and complicating the process can also be ineffective. You want to ensure your policy is fair and effective on both sides of the equation. Striking this balance makes the results exponentially great. We call this the yin and yang of travel management. As organizations change, it is important to go back to your policy and ensure it is still in alignment with any possible culture or overall corporate policy changes. GBTA recommends that you ask these questions when reviewing your company's travel policy:
When you ask these questions, you can ensure that your policy meets the needs of your travelers while respecting the needs of the organization. If the policy makes the travelers happy, they are more likely to follow it.
Reviewing and updating your policy with key business leaders will give you an opportunity to understand how the management of this expense can impact the bottom line and in doing so, the right adjustments will take place. In addition, pulling together the right representatives from all applicable departments – legal, HR, finance, procurement and senior management – will increase their engagement in and awareness of the policy. This gives them a stake in the policy and makes compliance more likely. In addition, pulling in senior management will facilitate support and buy in for the T&E policy. This will result in increased adoption of the overall travel program and policy if everyone is on board. The data we can provide can show the results and opportunities.
Ask us for support! An effective corporate travel policy will help your organization realize maximum savings within your travel and expense program. By defining price thresholds and guiding travelers to the right buying decisions on spending limits for all components of a trip, you are ensuring that purchasing decisions are dictated and overseen by the organization. In addition, ensuring the policy fully leverages your preferred supplier agreements can help ensure no savings are left on the table.
Our recommendation is to set a plan to annually review and benchmark your T&E Policy. Make it a priority, as it is something that is easily overlooked. However, it can provide real benefits to your organization. If you need help on how to get started, download our free Travel Policy Workbook and contact your Account Manager.