Writing a travel policy isn’t necessarily easy or “black and white”. There can be many grey areas too (cancelled flights, upgraded cars, upgraded hotel rooms, town cars/limo’s and extravagant meals). This may leave you wondering if creating a travel policy is worth the effort!
It’s actually the grey areas that are the very reason to create and/or update your travel policy. Travelling employees need to understand what is acceptable; what is acceptable with reason; and what is not allowed.
Travel policies vary by company and organization. Policy depends on company goals, travel practices and culture. Here are some things to keep in mind in creating an effective travel policy:
AIR TRAVEL POLICY
- What is your company’s standard for air travel? Are travelers required to select the lowest in policy options or do you allow flexibility and options for longer flights?
- Are changes allowed once the flight is booked? If so, do changes require approval?
- How far in advance should travellers be booking their flights to ensure they are leveraging the best rates? Should last minutes booking be allowed, if so, what are the restrictions/requirements?
- Are upgrades for air travel reimbursable, or at the traveller’s expense?
- If a non-direct option will provide a savings of $XXX dollars or more, should these flights be booked instead of direct flights? If so, you need to set parameters, for example; routing requires no more than one (1) stop with one change of plane for each way of a roundtrip. Routing does not increase the one-way total elapsed trip time (origin to destination) by more than 2 hours.
When determining the lowest in policy airfare definition, consider the following:
- Specially Negotiated Fares
- Non-refundable Fares and Penalty Fees
- Connecting and One-Stop Flights
- Alternate Airports
- Advance Purchase Fares
- Group and Meeting Fares
- Lower Cost Non-preferred Carriers
- Is there a limit to the number of baggage charges that your company with reimburse for?
- Are employees required to book company negotiated/preferred hotel properties, and/or their agencies negotiated hotel properties, or can they book other properties? Organizations should make available their list of negotiated rates and encourage travellers to leverage these properties whenever possible and within policy and meet volume requirements.
- What is your company’s standard accommodation? Is it a single room in a moderately priced business class hotel?
- Does your company have major city rates and guidelines that should be adhered to? For example, in Canada, hotel rates may not exceed $300/night; however, efforts must be taken to secure accommodations within industry benchmarks of $180-$200.
- Can travellers upgrade their room without permission? What if there is a cost to the company?
- Is the use of Airbnb and other shared type accommodations outside the travel program allowed? Currently, organizations are reviewing the use of Airbnb and other similar accommodation rental programs. Before permitting such programs into your travel policy, it is important to consider all aspects including savings, traveler satisfaction, safety, regulation, and integration into the travel program.
CAR RENTAL POLICY
- Are employees required to book with company negotiated/contracted car rental, and/or their agencies negotiated rates, or can they book other rental companies? Organizations should make available their list of negotiated vendors and encourage travellers to leverage them whenever possible and within policy and meet volume requirements.
- What size car is permitted to be booked and are there exceptions to this rule? For example; a full-size vehicle or minivan is permitted if the traveler is required to transport bulky equipment or more than three (3) employees travel together in a single vehicle. Approval prior to booking is required for any vehicle larger than intermediate size.
- If the traveller forgets to fill the gas tank prior to dropping off the car, will the company cover any excessive charges incurred?
- Does your company’s insurance cover car rental insurance? If not, are travellers required to purchase car insurance?
- Are costs associated with car accessories such as GPS system, etc., reimbursable?
- Can travellers accept car rental upgrades if there is an additional charge?
- Are traffic and parking violations while operating a rental vehicle or personal vehicle for business reimbursable?
- When are rental cars permitted? For example; only if less expensive than other modes such as taxis and airport shuttles.
- Is the use of Uber and other car share rental programs permitted? Before permitting such programs into your travel policy, it is important to consider all aspects including savings, traveler satisfaction, safety, regulation, and integration into the travel program.
Most Travel Management Companies will provide travel policy assistance, samples and templates. Be sure to leverage their expertise and resources to help you when developing your company travel policy! Can we help? Contact us for more information and assistance with your travel policy.