Travel and Expense

8 Corporate Travel Policy Best Practices

SAP Concur Team |

Corporate travel policies need to address some of the most complex and important issues related to business travel. 

When written well, corporate travel policies provide both employees and employers with clarity and answers to common questions and scenarios. 

Developing, reviewing, and revising corporate travel policies is an ongoing process, one that should consider multiple perspectives and needs and evaluate data. A business travel policy for employees should also adapt to changing patterns of travel, employee needs, and practical considerations. 

Best Practices in Corporate Travel Policies 

Here is a closer look at some corporate travel policy best practices to consider. It can help your organization decide what should be included in a travel policy and your business travel guidelines. 

1. Involve Key Stakeholders 

Your travel policy will touch nearly every employee and department within your organization. Involving key stakeholders in human resources, payroll, finance and operations ensures that the policy reflects their unique perspectives and needs. If there are departments that are frequent travelers, they too should be included in conversations. 

Bringing together the major players allows for better collaboration and discussion of complex or controversial elements of the policy. Regular meetings among the stakeholders allows for a well-rounded policy and can ease the process of review and revisions when necessary. 

2. Track Expenses for Reporting and Analysis 

Your organization needs systems that will collect, report on, and analyze data related to your corporate travel program. These data points help leaders understand what’s working and not working within the program and provide insights that can guide revisions to the policy. 

Having the right tools and applications provide those in charge of the policy with information necessary to make important decisions. The company needs a standardized system for completing expenses to avoid data duplication and creating a consistent reporting process for all employees. 

Accurate expense reporting helps to develop the true return on investment of your corporate travel program. 

When developing your systems, consider integrating your policy with your travel management software. Doing so creates automated enforcement of certain policy elements, makes it easier for employees and managers to remain in compliance with the policy and helps accelerate processing and approval. 

3. Factor in Employee Satisfaction, with a Focus on Communication 

For travelers, a policy can generate lots of emotions and feelings, especially if policy changes force changes in the way people travel for business. For example, some employees prefer certain hotel or airline brands. A change to mandated providers can create significant ill-will. 

The key is to communicate regularly about the process by which the policy is created, evaluated, and modified. There may be generational or departmental differences in how employees prefer to travel and any changes can become problematic. 

Remember to emphasize why a corporate travel policy is necessary and important. The policy itself should be clear and easy to understand, using subheadings, bullet points, examples, and short paragraphs to make it more readable. 

4. Provide Resources 

A good corporate travel policy does more than just list do’s and don’ts. It can also be an effective resource that employees and managers turn to. Among the resources to include are: 

  • Links to your travel management and booking platform 

  • Forms for expense reporting 

  • Travel insurance coverage with a link to your carrier 

  • Lists of purchases that are and are not allowed 

  • What to do in case of an emergency 

  • Key phone numbers – human resources, finance, corporate travel office (if applicable) 

5. Set Clear Policies for Booking and Costs 

Your policy can clear up many gray areas around corporate travel. Be sure that the policy addresses some of the following areas that can cause concern for travelers and administrators: 

  • Whether travelers must use a corporate travel agency or website 

  • Expected turnaround times for expense reports and reimbursements 

  • Budgetary guidelines for airfare, hotel and ground transportation, including whether there are mandatory vendors 

  • Guidance on bleisure (combining business and leisure travel), including whether it’s allowed and cost-sharing guidance 

  • Procedures for handling rejected expense submissions or requests 

6. Understand Duty of Care and Reflect in the Policy 

Employers are responsible for duty of care, the legal obligation to research and develop a plan that reduces the risk for employers traveling on behalf of their employers. 

The policy should explain what duty of care is and the employer’s commitment to its employees and how far that extends. 

Begin by discussing any necessary changes to the policy with travelers who regularly must complete high-risk business travel and their managers. Examine global risk trends, discuss past experiences, and draft initial guidelines. 

Your policy needs a pre-travel process and a standardized risk assessment report, especially when traveling to high-risk areas. Incorporate travel alerts into the itinerary and ensure that the company has access to employee contact information and health records, if applicable. 

The policy needs to have multiple contingency plans detailed and ready to implement if needed. Be sure that employees have access to technology that can help them if problems occur while traveling. 

7. Include Travel Risk Management Considerations 

Travel risk management is the practice of anticipating, preventing, and reacting to issues that may arise while employees are traveling. The risk can run the gamut from weather issues and natural disasters to social unrest and terrorism. 

The goal of travel risk management is to identify and prepare for potential risks and decrease the risk of those threats materializing, if possible. If threats do materialize, the risk management also develops the plans to address with them. 

Travel risk management and duty of care are interrelated and often overlap. Both are critical to keeping employees safe. 

8. Practice Continuous Improvement 

Keeping corporate travel policies up to date requires diligent scrutiny of the policy itself and the supporting data. Factoring in employee safety, costs, and compliance requires regular review of the policy. Doing so allows your company to have policies that continue to benefit the organization and employees alike. 

Why Are Corporate Travel Policies Important?  

A well-constructed corporate travel policy is a powerful tool. It can help shape employee engagement, recruitment and retention. 

By engaging key stakeholders, communicating regularly, gathering data, integrating systems and focusing on safety, your corporate travel policy will serve all employees well. 

At SAP Concur, we help businesses seamlessly integrate business travel, expense and invoice management. Our solutions simplify and automate travel mechanics, integrating real-time data and artificial intelligence to drive efficiency and accuracy. 

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Learn more about how SAP Concur solutions can improve your company's corporate travel operations. 

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