Written on September 19, 2012 at 8:09 am, by Kristel Wills
Remember when a business trip meant getting there and back as quickly as possible? Well, things have certainly changed. Now, business travelers are taking advantage of their travel opportunities and extending their business trips. That’s right, folks: Business travelers are looking to stay longer by turning their business travel into a personal holiday. Sound crazy? Read on.
The more, the merrier
Business travelers are no strangers to finding a balance between work and home life. So it’s no wonder that they’ve found a way to do just that:
- In one study, 72% of business travelers said they added a leisure component to their business travel
- Another 81% said they planned to do it again the following year
- And 1 in 3 business travelers had already taken a friend, spouse or child with them
Grab that opportunity by the horns
There are a couple of ways business travelers turn their trips into a bit of holiday. One way is by taking along a favorite traveling companion on the next trip to Boston, Paris or Mumbai. Talk about instantly turning travel into pleasure now that there’s someone to take along to the Ethiopian restaurant, the ballpark, or the city’s most famous – or infamous – sights.
Another way is by adding a few days to wherever you’re heading and taking those days off to enjoy the sights – either solo or with a travel companion. Imagine heading to Denver but taking a few extra days to hike the Rocky Mountains. Or going to Cleveland and spending a day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. By the time you come back to the office, you’ll certainly feel more well-traveled not to mention refreshed and relaxed.
Wait, what about the corporate policy?
Keep in mind, in both scenarios, business travelers have to pay for the ticket and the meals of their non-work traveling companions. Hotels can be a different story and you may or may not be expected to pay part of the room on behalf of your guest. In addition, every company has different policies about what else can and can’t be covered in an expense report – so know before you go.
Also, even though business travelers are off sight-seeing and seemingly off-the-clock, your company is still responsible for you from the time you leave until the time you get home. As travel managers like to say, “Wheels up to wheels down.” Duty of care isn’t an option. In the US and in many other countries, it’s a legal requirement. Employees shouldn’t put themselves in a situation that could be troublesome, or take unnecessary risks.
And for you travel managers out there, what does this trend mean to your corporate policy? If you haven’t already, it’s probably a good time to update it to address this growing trend. Fraud is the last thing on a business traveler’s mind but accidental expense fraud can certainly be the byproduct of not updating and communicating out your company’s policy.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Does my company have a leisure travel policy for employees on the road?
- Where and how does my policy draw the line between a personal and business expense?
- How do hotels, taxis, car rentals, and other expenses get reimbursed if an employee brought a non-work companion along?
- Are employees aware of possible tax deductions they are eligible for when engaging in mixed-purpose travel?
- What systems do I have in place to easily locate and communicate with employees on the road?
Remember, employees who take advantage of their travel opportunities are using no more company resources than they would ordinarily. They are, however, getting a unique chance to pursue personal interests and have their company to thank for it.