The first step in business travel management is to draft a travel policy. There is a lot to consider when arranging business travel, so it makes sense to have a robust corporate travel policy in place.
But, how is it supposed to be built? Using a one-size-fits-all approach or a tailor-made one taking into account the differences of your traveling population?
Travelers’ perks suffered a major cut during the last big financial downturn. Economy class ruled and hotels’ star ratings dropped even among C-suite executives. Public transport was widely considered and limo rides were severely cut. This lead to an exhausted traveling population and to a poor return-on-investment.
Fortunately, companies are starting to consider other ways of cutting costs and are seeing the benefits of looking after their employees so they can be productive and make the most of their business trip.
Therefore, when it comes to designing a set of rules, is it better to have an egalitarian approach that will not raise any resentments or, on the contrary, is it worth it to have special rules for certain employees?
A clear policy with a standard set of rules for everyone will be easier to implement and follow up, however, you will need to consider if your traveling population is more or less homogeneous.
If you manage business travel for a small or medium-sized company where the travelers have a similar profile and travel cadency, a one-size-fits-all policy might be the perfect approach. It will make your employees feel that you treat everybody in the same way and it will be easier for you to track compliance and negotiate with preferred partners.
However, in big organizations where the traveling population is larger, a one-size-fits-all approach might not be wise.
We are not talking about giving executives unlimited perks and putting the rest of your employees in coach class. Here are five considerations to help you to craft your policy:
- Are they traveling long-haul or short-haul? You can maybe have a cap based on flight duration and allow business or premium economy for flights over a certain amount of hours. When the flights are short there is not much difference from one cabin to another so you might want to save some dollars on your short-haul trips.
- How many trips do they do per year? Obviously, it is very different to take one or two trips per year than to travel constantly. Your road warriors can suffer from exhaustion, so show them some love.
- What is the reason for the trip? It is not the same to travel to attend an internal meeting as to give a presentation that will win the largest account in history. If your employees are traveling to attend a crucial meeting they need to be well-rested. That means business class, a direct flight if possible, nice accommodation with outstanding services, and comfortable and reliable ground transportation.
- Are your top executives leading by example? If you want everybody to adhere to a set of rules, make sure the big bosses also follow them. Nothing is worse than being asked to do something and then see that the rules do not apply to everybody. Consistency will also help you to make the most of your travel program. A lack of compliance can put your whole program at risk. Taking into account that top executives are the ones that travel the most, it is pretty obvious that your travel program will suffer.
- Use gamification to decide who gets extra perks. An excellent way to boost compliance is by applying game techniques to your travel policy. What about tracking compliance and granting extra perks to your most compliant employees?