What to consider when creating the travel policy

In an increasingly globalized world, business travel has become the norm. Travel policies offer companies many advantages: they prevent excessive spending on accommodation and transport and define how employees should behave in the case of an emergency. There is no one-size-fits-all solution because what is important in a travel policy depends on various factors. For example, the size of the company, but also cultural influences have an impact on the travel policy.

5 reasons why creating a travel policy is important

1. The budget

It is not uncommon for companies to limit their budgets to ensure that travel costs do not get out of hand. This is possible, for example, with the help of a lump sum for overnight stays or fixed expense rates. These rates vary depending on the company and the destination of the business trip. Typically, a lump sum for accommodation is between 60-100 € per night. For higher management levels, however, some companies are willing to spend 200 € and more. Many companies choose to cover all accommodation and travel costs. The travel policy should establish clear rules for this. Usually, neither the most expensive nor the cheapest option is chosen for accommodation and transport.

Checklist for your travel policy

Are you interested in our checklist for creating the perfect travel policy? Just fill out the form and download it now!

Travel policy checklist for companies

2. The well-being of business travelers

This includes not only the satisfaction of business travelers, but also their productivity during the trip. In the future, greater emphasis will be placed on ensuring that employees remain fit even after their business trip and that their accommodation and travel plans do not exhaust them physically or mentally. In addition, the question arises as to whether the classic kinds of accommodation and means of transport are really ideal for the respective type of business trip. On shorter routes, for example, rail journeys are often perceived as less stressful than flights. The same applies to accommodation, for which companies usually book a hotel room. However, temporary living is better suited for long-term business trips and allows those affected to feel at home even on business trips.

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3. Legal security and due diligence

The travel policy is also to be understood as a safety concept. It defines the procedures for road accidents, medical matters and other emergencies. Ideally, it also provides the employees with emergency contacts, especially if the contact person in the company is not available. Companies thus also protect themselves legally, as they have not violated their duty of care in the event of misconduct on the part of employees. It should also be noted that every business traveler has different needs. It goes without saying that physical impairments should be taken into account.

 

The guidelines must always be adapted to the local safety and political conditions. It should be provided that people who travel abroad are informed about possible risks in advance. Keep in mind that female business travelers might have different needs than their male colleagues. So make sure that safe accommodation and safe means of transport are chosen and that guidelines for this are documented in your travel policy.

4. Employee satisfaction

Employee satisfaction has never been more important than in 2018, which is why HR departments have a keen interest in providing their employees with a pleasant travel experience. Binding regulations on business travel entitlements can contribute to employee satisfaction, since they rule out envy among employees, e.g. due to stays in hotels with different ratings.

5. Protection of the environment

In the light of climate change and rising sea levels, protecting the environment is becoming increasingly important, even when it comes to business travel. In the context of corporate social responsibility, acting sustainably can also contribute to the company’s brand reputation. Environmentally conscious travel guidelines primarily affect the choice of means of transport. On shorter routes, for example, train journeys could be booked instead of flights or employees could be encouraged to form taxi carpools.

Checklist for your travel policy

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As with all things in life, there are mistakes that you can easily avoid when creating a “travel policy”. Here are our top 5 tips for your company’s perfect travel policy!

1. Be clear and comprehensible!

What becomes apparent when talking to travel managers is that the most important criterion for a good travel policy is “clarity”. The upper price limits for hotels must be clearly defined, without vague wording such as “hotel costs will be reimbursed at an appropriate level” or “mid-range hotels should be selected”. Regulations and responsibilities must not only be crystal clear but also easy to understand and implement.

2. Ensure the support of your company’s managers

A clear mandate from the management is recommended to ensure the enforcement and compliance with the policy. The involvement of relevant departments such as HR and Finance is just as important for the creation of the policy. In addition, all areas of the company relevant to labour, tax and travel law should be covered in order to avoid unpleasant surprises. If a company’s senior managers set an example and follow the travel policy, this increases the motivation of less experienced employees to follow the guidelines themselves.

3. Include your employees in the process

A common challenge in creating the travel policy is that travel managers lack the practical business travel experience and find it difficult to put themselves in the shoes of those affected. It is therefore essential to actively exchange ideas with employees and find out what worked well in the past and what caused problems.

4. Leave room for flexibility!

Another common mistake is to leave no room for personalization. Every situation is different and people have very different needs. That is why there should be room for small adjustments and personal preferences. For example, you should give employees the option of using public transport and not require them to use rental cars. In other situations, furnished apartments might be more suitable than a hotel room.

5. Ask for feedback and see if the employees follow the policy!

The following applies to every travel policy: acceptance is the most important thing because, without it, it loses its raison d’être. However, if it turns out that the policy is not being complied with, the exact reasons for this must be investigated. Is it possible that the guidelines are too rigid or is the wording of the directive too vague and conveys a sense of optionality? Where the directive does not consider the needs of employees, it misses its purpose. Only when it benefits both, the company and its employees, it is an appropriate guideline for the year 2018.

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A comprehensive travel policy determines:

1. How to travel

2. How to make the booking

3. Which costs the company reimburses

4. How they are billed

5. What happens in the case of non-compliance with the guidelines

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Johannes Hönnerscheid

Johannes Hönnerscheid is passionate about writing and business travel.