A travel policy, or corporate travel policy, is the document that brings together all the guidelines of business travel management, particularly regarding cost management, defining what can and cannot be booked, the approval procedures and what is paid for by the company and what must be reimbursed to the employee on business trips. The travel policy is not just about bookings, it is highly customised and requires a common understanding between different departments within the same company to make it clear and meaningful.   It usually concerns the travel manager – i.e. a chosen person who deals exclusively with travel arrangements – management and human resources.

What is a travel policy for?

As already mentioned, the travel policy is a necessary document not only for the correct organisation and success of a business trip, but also for the management of company costs. By defining certain cost and organisational rules, it is possible to calculate with relative precision how much will be spent on business trips. Consequently, a failure to use this can significantly increase the predetermined costs and have repercussions on the company’s budget, as well as slowing down all practices related to company travel.

A travel policy includes different types of regulations, one for each of the different elements that come into play within the same trip.

Within this we can find:

  • A car policy, which deals with the journey to the traveller’s airport. 
  • A safety policy, which deals with the safety of the traveller and the place of travel
  • A reimbursement policy, which may cover taxi travel or daily allowances 
  • A duty of care policy which concerns the employee’s duty of care towards his employees.
  • A travel risk management policy, which deals with the risks that travellers may face during their journeys.

How should a travel policy be written? 

First of all, it is important that the language is clear and effective because very often they are difficult to understand, are too bureaucratic and are not simplified by the use of technology (which could, for example, make them more user-friendly).     

These points should always be kept in mind:

  • Information regarding accommodation, meals and mileage should be easy to understand and remember.
  • Specifics regarding the delivery of expense claims and who to contact in the event of problems should be made clear so that no-one is in any doubt as to what to do whenever such a situation arises.
  • Everything concerning exceptional and unforeseen expenses or how to behave when taking a customer to lunch or dinner must also be specified in an unambiguous way.
  • A traveller also wants to feel safe, so including travel insurance or reimbursement for medical expenses can be a way to make him feel comfortable.

What are the guidelines to be considered for a proper travel policy? 

A good travel policy should:

  • Always be up-to-date; if you already have one, it is important to review it and keep it constantly updated.
  • Decide on priorities; the travel policy must contain everything that travellers need and need to know.
  • Don’t confuse travellers; being clear so as not to run into unexpected events is very important for the correct use of the travel policy.
  • Reduce work for the administration department; a clear and explanatory travel policy will allow the traveller to know what to do when they need to receive reimbursements, simplifying the work of the administration department. 
  • Be detailed; explain exactly what the procedure is for submitting expense claims, what to do and what to do in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
  • Systematise expense control; having the ability to keep track of everything can be a great help in controlling costs.
  • Make the traveller happy to travel; the well-being of the traveller is also important to make the trip a rewarding experience.

What should a Travel Policy contain and how should it be structured?

To be effective a Travel Policy must contain everything a traveller needs to know about business travel in general:

  • cost management
  • rules of conduct for travellers
  • reimbursement arrangements
  • travel guidelines (reference to means of travel, class and structure of stay)

Specifically:

  • how travel is booked and what the approval process is
  • maximum costs of air travel and how far in advance they must be booked
  • preference for public transport
  • maximum costs for train tickets
  • guidelines for vehicle use and fuel reimbursement
  • guidelines for car rental
  • what is and is not covered by the travel allowance
  • how are expenses related to client entertainment (dinners, lunches, gifts…) managed?
  • how the reimbursement process works: what can and cannot be reimbursed
  • how bleisure activities work – how they are handled and what is included in the reimbursement

Best practices for an efficient travel policy

  1. All bookings in one place
With the use of automated booking platforms for your business travel (such as Bizaway), the whole process of checking your business travel schedules and everything related to them will be more convenient and simplified.  

Let’s look at some of the advantages together:

  • Full control over the budget that is spent
  • Possibility to categorise by department for more comprehensive reports
  • Summary of expenses in a single monthly invoice
  • Abolition of reimbursement to employees (all expenses will be made via company credit cards)
  • Know exactly which employees are travelling
  • Ability to monitor your travellers if they are in areas where there has been a natural disaster or any other emergency
  • Travellers’ booking choices are already subject to the travel policy

  1. Turning your travel policy into a resource
Treating the travel policy as a list of rules is not very productive, but if it is treated as a resource your travellers will know where to find what they are looking for.

Here is a list of information your travellers will need:

  • which trips they can book themselves
  • how to get assistance with their trips
  • travel policies
  • how to deal with emergency situations
  • what expenses are considered non-refundable
  • how refunds work

  1. Automate your travel policy 
As we mentioned above a list of rules can bore the traveller but using an automated platform for booking trips will simplify this problem. By setting up a few automated rules, travellers will only be able to book where and how they have already been approved.  

In fact, only with the approval of the travel manager, or whoever, will the traveller be able to complete the booking.

  1. Use a booking tool that your travellers appreciate
A platform that is easy to understand and use is essential to avoid wasting time on bookings by your travellers, otherwise they won’t use it. It must offer a convenient and extensive archive of places and prices but also have a nice interface. If there is no appreciation on this part there remains the possibility that they will continue to book elsewhere.

  1. Enabling car reservations
Self-bookings, i.e. bookings made directly by the traveller, are convenient for all departments:

  • To the administration – there is no longer any need to manage the requests of each traveller and they can be directly directed to the booking platform.
  • To the travellers – they can book independently as they wish but following the travel policy set.

The template for a corporate travel policy  

In addition to taking into account all the aspects mentioned in the other paragraphs, there are two other aspects that should be clear before drawing up a travel policy:

  • travel management; how much autonomy is given to travellers? will they be able to book their own trips?
  • the level of rigidity; do you want to leave travellers to decide their own travel or do you want to be asked for approval? or do you want to allow expenses outside the travel policy but want to be notified about them?

We know how difficult it can be to draft a travel policy, so after much research we have prepared a template for you. Download the template for your travel policy.

Positive aspects of a travel policy 

Although it may seem very boring, the travel policy has many positive aspects for both the traveller and the company, such as.

For travellers:

  • they can book their own trips, but with guidelines.
  • travellers are safer because their movements are known
  • it makes booking trips much easier

For the company:

  • control of expenses
  • avoids problems caused by advance payment of expenses and reimbursement requests

How to enforce the company’s Travel Policy 

Enforcing the travel policy is not always easy. Often employees choose to book higher priced rooms for convenience or book through familiar websites rather than through an agency to save money.

The difficulty in enforcing the travel policy can be caused by a number of reasons, such as the travel policy being out of date, a lack of communication between departments or difficulties in booking through the platform. It is very important to keep track of who is booking outside of the travel policy in order to understand if the problem is with the travel policy or if it is a problem with your employees. By keeping track of this you can determine whether the problem relates to additional but necessary expenses (such as last minute bookings, luggage storage during events) or less necessary ones such as choosing accommodation in higher star hotels.

Asking for feedback from travellers after each business trip can help to understand how a travel policy should be set up – the clearer and simpler it is, the easier it will be for the employee to follow.

What can Bizaway do for your travel policy?

But this is where the convenience of booking through travel business platforms comes in. Having a travel management system allows your employees to choose their preferred itinerary and accommodation within the budget you set.  

This simplifies a lot of cumbersome processes, such as calling the agency to book travel or reviewing all preferences with a travel agent, which can result in them deciding to book through a site they are familiar with because they book their holidays there.

Booking through a platform is much simpler and allows you to manage the administrative and financial processes as well. For example, here’s what BizAway offers you:  

  • Clear interface – Easily book your trip and in addition have a number of features that can be useful to you such as:
  • Wide choice – The more choice there is, the happier the traveller will be to book through the platform and avoid looking for solutions elsewhere.
  • 24/7 assistance – Our platform offers multilingual assistance 25/7 for all your needs.
  • No refunds – With the automation of these processes the employee will no longer need to book out of pocket.
  • longer need to book out of pocket. Travel policy setting – BizAway offers a number of customizations for travel policies such as the ability to set limits that are visible to the traveler as alerts/guidelines at the time of booking or as requests that need approval (so-called approval flows). Let’s see them in detail:
  1. 1.Hotels You can set limits for:
  • Maximum price per night per person
  • Star limit of hotels
  • Minimum days in advance before check-in
  • Maximum price per night by location

2. Airline flights You can set limitations for:

  • Maximum price per trip per person
  • Minimum booking advance before departure
  • Maximum permitted class of travel
  • Minimum duration per class of travel
  • Maximum price per trip per person
  • Maximum fare per period on the route

3. Trains You can set limitations for:

  • Maximum price per trip per person
  • Minimum advance before departure
  • Maximum fare per period on the route

4. Car rental You can set limits for:

  • Maximum rental price per day
  • Minimum days in advance before collection

An automated platform will allow you to streamline the travel policy, focusing for example on how to deal with customers (dinners, gifts, etc.), reimbursement of meals or reimbursement of taxis and transport in general.

To sum it up

A travel policy should be clear and detailed without bureaucratic complications, as it should be a tool to simplify all the processes of a business trip for the employee and the company.

To help you, you can download our travel policy template here and we recommend that you consider adopting a dedicated business travel platform such as Bizaway.