20 Common Mistakes to Avoid: Business Travel Policy
With £750 becoming the average travel cost for each UK business traveller per trip, you can’t afford to make travel mistakes. With a flawed travel policy being the number 1 contributor towards wastage, it’s best to pay attention to it development.
Developing a comprehensive travel policy starts with knowing what it is and noting common mistakes and misconceptions. This gives you a clear guideline on what to avoid.
Table of Contents :
- Understanding the Basics of Business Travel Policy
- Who Compiles a Business Travel Policy?
- What is Included in Corporate Travel Policy?
- 20 Biggest Mistakes To avoid When Developing Your Business Travel Policy
- Leaving Out Cultural Influences
- No Clear Indication of Accountability and Ownership of Travel Behaviors
- Lack of Clear and Strong Budget Control
- Missing Expense Policies During Tricky Times
- No Mention For Booking or Approval Process
- Missing Out Which Aspects Fall Under Employee and Company Expenses
- Lack of Transparency
- No Guidelines for Special Categories
- Making Way for Discriminatory or Stereotyped Behaviors
- Confusing Policy Guidelines
- Leaving out the Roles of Stakeholders
- No Specific or Important Role in Company Management
- No Direct Line of Communication or Contact Between Management and Employees
- Not Including Any Environmental Consciousness
- Introducing Advantages for Higher Posts
- No Strong Risk Management
- Lack of Instructions For Evading or Managing Business Issues
- Excessively Strong Travel Policy
- Excess Leniency in Travel Policy
- No Contact Direction for Employees During Problematic Times
- Final Thoughts
Understanding the Basics of Business Travel Policy
A business travel policy forms the backbone of seamless and stress-free corporate travel. A policy with definite rules and regulations helps align employee resources, budget allocation, and business activities to suit your company.
Further, creating a business travel policy should never involve applying a “copy and paste” approach. Factors like the number of employees, company budget, and your business travel goals should guide the development of your travel policy.
Importantly, your business travel policy should bring ease and convenience to the travel schedules of your corporate travellers. Duty of care should also play an important role in the development of your policy.
Who Compiles a Business Travel Policy?
Most corporate travel policies are developed in-house by your companies travel bookers, travel managers and executives. This is not always the case and depends largely on the size of your business and your travel spend. TMC’s will often provide guidance in the development of your policy due to their experience in the field of business travel.
What is Included in Corporate Travel Policy?
Any business travel policy should include the following factors:
- Food arrangements
- Air travel, car rental, Airport transfers or other transport options
- Booking process
- Travel Insurance
- Inclusion of traveller rights
- Business document management
- Risk management
- Duty of care
Further, the policy must highlight terms and conditions for fines and traveller reimbursements.
20 Biggest Mistakes To avoid When Developing Your Business Travel Policy
Managing corporate travel starts with having a travel policy and working towards even the last flights details on the return trip. Parameters for planning and experiencing business trips can be subjective. Well-structured business travel includes a well-developed travel policy. Thit requires the exclusion of loopholes in your policy and including every vital element like budget and risk management.
Leaving Out Cultural Influences
Business trips with great opportunities involve travelling to foreign destinations. Be aware of regional culture and avoid expressing habits or practices that could clash with cultural norms.
Assuming one of your team members has travelled to the Middle East for a business meeting. By practicing table etiquette normal in the UK your team could come across as rude and disrespectful. So you should include and emphasise adherence to cultural norms in your travel policy. That shows understanding, trust, and respect while encouraging future contact and potential opportunities.
No Clear Indication of Accountability and Ownership of Travel Behaviors
Every involved party has a clear role vital for every step, starting from trip planning to return flights. But you need to have the roles pointed out in your policy to weed out confusion. Everyone from HR down to the traveller should know what is expected from them before, during and after each trip.
So, you need a business travel policy highlighting the responsibility of the involved parties in each trip. With clear roles in place in policies, you can hold people accountable for travel mishaps. Also, by emphasising the roles, you spread the workload evenly.
Lack of Clear and Strong Budget Control
Organising business travel needs you to take care of flights, car rentals, hotels, and food. Each of these travel amenities comes with expenses during travel booking. Even from the start of the business trip to the return home involves a never-ending list of expenses. With no control over travel expenses, the bill piles up extra costs from corporate employees and employers.
Your business travel policy needs to emphasise cost-effective strategies to avoid financial strain on your business. Further, the policy must apply money-saving tactics without compromising the quality of travel amenities. This is best done by having a set reimbursement process.
Missing Expense Policies During Tricky Times
When corporate travellers encounter any climate, political or religious disturbance they need extra resources to guarantee their safety. During risky times, they have expenses to address booking cancellations and frequent moving to safe locations. Without any focus on managing risk-related expenses, the employee may face issues while travelling to a politically unstable region.
The travel policy should indicate the ownership of risk-related expenses by employers. That only gives reliability and a sense of relief right from the start of a business trip.
No Mention For Booking or Approval Process
Booking for business travel can appear simple. But without any policy outlining its important details like booking timing, and quality parameters, employees can get confused.
Further, the booking process needs a proper arrangement during business trips when employees travel in groups. Book hotels, cars, and flights at a different times might be problematic.
So, when you include the booking process in the travel policy, you can lay down the behavioural norm for your team. Also, with booking norms outlined in the policy, corporate travellers know the exact involvement of the employer in the booking process.
Missing Out Which Aspects Fall Under Employee and Company Expenses
There are expenses that the company needs to cover, and there are expenses that fall under the responsibility of the corporate travellers. With no focus on expense responsibility in the business travel policy, the expense boundaries get blurred. With no policy outlining expense ownership, employees on trips may expect employers to cover personal expenses like shopping and leisure activities.
Also, with clarity on expense responsibility, corporate travellers can plan how much money they should have reserved for the business trip.
Lack of Transparency
Having a business policy filled with ornamental jargon without clarity of travel norms is as good as having no policy. With no clear objectives in the travel policy, corporate travellers get confused. Importantly, a non-transparent business travel policy leaves room for errors.
So, with transparent guidelines, corporate travellers can easily grasp the corporate travel policy. Plus, transparency helps in understanding company instructions. This way, corporate travellers can plan the trip aligning with company goals and preferences.
No Guidelines for Special Categories
If your company has pregnant women and people with disabilities, they need to be addressed in your travel policies. Provide special assistance, due to them being away from the familiarity of the office and the comfort of homes.
Further, they may need extra resources for flights, hotels, and restaurants in business destinations. Importantly, they may face health issues that require supplying them with health assistance. Without guidelines, these employees on corporate trips feel perplexed throughout the business travel schedule.
The chances of having them on a business trip can be slim. But if the employer includes them in a corporate trip, they must consider their convenience. It is important to give them complete ease in caring for their work and well-being.
Making Way for Discriminatory or Stereotyped Behaviors
Any corporate travel policy shouldn’t include discriminatory tones for black people, women, or people with different ethnic origins. Nowhere in the policy should favour preferential behaviour for white people, heterosexuals, or people from your ethnicity. Discriminatory policies cause discomfort, bring down productivity, and get a bad rep in business destinations.
But with resources equally distributed for every employee, you reflect empathy and understanding. This gives you a smooth running business operation in a business destination.
Confusing Policy Guidelines
The travel policy with unclear statements paves the way for misunderstandings. Further, the added confusion can cause disagreements, negatively impacting business activities.
So, while framing the policy guidelines, one must be articulate. Also, every aspect of travel, from flight to food, should lay down direct terms for every involved party, including employees.
Leaving out the Roles of Stakeholders
Business travel includes the participation of every stakeholder, not only employees and company owners. Leaving out stakeholders like shareholders, the policy removes their ownership or responsibility in business travel.
Your business travel policy should integrate the roles of every stakeholder.
No Specific or Important Role in Company Management
The company management plays a key role in important aspects like booking and budget decisions. When a corporate travel policy fails to include company management, travellers fail to get the “green light” to contact management. That makes one of the impactful departments in the company trivial in a highly useful business trip.
So, make sure you highlight the role of company management to make your employees have a stress-free trip.
No Direct Line of Communication or Contact Between Management and Employees
There are many times during which a corporate traveller may need to contact management while doing business in foreign locations. When a corporate policy has no direct guidelines for the contact between management and employees, you need to bridge the gap.
So, outline the rights of employees in reaching out to company management to bring ease to business trips.
Not Including Any Environmental Consciousness
This is one of the most common mistakes found in business travel policies. The policies include risk management, budget allocation, and employee safety. But the guidelines don’t down terms for executing environmental responsibility for corporate travellers. A result is large organisations burdening the earth with the waste of resources and pollution in business locations.
Ensure your policy includes using resources and services during a business trip that helps prevent pollution or other wastage.
Introducing Advantages for Higher Posts
Any person in a superior role (like an executive) may have more importance than an entry-level employee. But don’t let that superiority discriminate against their business travel rights. Including special advantages for executives on business trips but fail to give the bare minimum to interns or juniors causes frustration.
Starting from risk management to food quality, each employee deserves to get similar treatment, especially when they are away from home. Therefore, opt for removing the preferential group, and mention that in your policy.
No Strong Risk Management
Any risk, whether climate-related, political, or religious, makes business travellers vulnerable in business travel destinations. Without any risk management, corporate travellers have no assurance of safety.
Highlight the role of TMCs and employers in helping corporate travellers to access travel amenities during troubled times in business destinations. Importantly, through the policy, the company must indicate the supply of resources to employees for safety and well-being.
Lack of Instructions For Evading or Managing Business Issues
Away from the office, corporate travellers would conduct business activities with available resources in the best possible way. So, it’s natural to encounter any business issue while networking, promoting services or products, or cracking any business deal. With instruction for the corporate team in business destinations, they may employ ways their employer prefers.
To avoid the blame-game, include mechanisms for business strategies to be followed during the business trip.
Excessively Strict Travel Policy
A corporate travel policy needs strict guidelines for getting the most out of business travel. But excessive strictness can limit the flexibility of travel schedules of business travellers. Plus, with excess rigidity in travel guidelines, you induce stress and anxiety in employees on corporate trips.
Therefore, you must design a flexible policy allowing a perfect level of autonomy for corporate travellers. With a flexible travel policy, employees on business trips get an apt balance of freedom, leisure, and work.
Excess Leniency in Travel Policy
A lenient business travel policy is better than an excessively strict one. If you introduce excess leniency in the policy, you may need help with the falling productivity of corporate travellers. Moreover, excess flexibility in travel policy leads to problems controlling free time and tracking business performance during business trips.
Introduce a level of strictness in business travel policy that leads to business improvement without making employees feel overburdened with rules.
No Contact Direction for Employees During Problematic Times
Corporate travellers need to reach out to the workplace and hire a TMC if they face trouble overseas. The trouble can be either business-related or some factor concerning their health like sudden unavailability of hotel or food. The affected employees, away from the office’s familiarity, need the employer’s assistance to navigate through uncertain times in business destinations.
So, corporate employees require a business travel policy that enables them to have a feasible contact process. Further, the business travel policy needs to highlight the type of emergency that gives employees the right to contact their employers. Employees need to get in touch with their employer and TMC during something like a political uprising in the business destination.
A business travel policy must be free from mistakes that dilute its effectiveness. Also, there’s only a point in having a business travel policy with transparent guidelines.
Make sure your business travel policy indicates important aspects like booking and risk management for making a business trip successful. Also, the policy should indicate equal guidelines for each group of employees.
Importantly, one should use the business travel policy to incorporate environmental responsibility in corporate travellers.