Travel and Expense
Outdated Travel Policy? 5 Tips to Update It Today
An outdated travel policy can cost your organization in many ways, including financially, strategically, and culturally. Today’s best-in-class travel policies are based on regularly assessed, achievable, and measurable goals; reflect organizational cultures and values; and provide flexibility and agility.
To learn how organizations can best craft and update their travel policy, Barb Bammer, a Senior Solutions Consultant at SAP Concur, talked to Ben Claxton, Online Technology Manager for Fox World Travel, and Jeff Saydah, Director of Global Client Solutions for Fox World Travel.
Tip #1. Don’t Wait to Reassess Your Travel Policy
Many organizations fail to update their travel policy on a regular basis. “Travel policies are put in place, and they just move on their own and no one takes a look at them — and I think that’s very typical,” Saydah says. However, the “set it and forget it” mentality of years past is not only outdated, but inadequate in today’s dynamic business environment. “Over the last almost 10 years, a lot of things have changed,” Claxton notes. “Your workforce has changed, your goals as a company have changed, so [you] want to continue to reassess.”
External events, such as the pandemic, are forcing organizations to revise their travel policy. “When they’re prodded by some external need, then all of a sudden eyes are opened up to this,” Saydah says. Instead of waiting, assess where you are currently and reevaluate on a set basis, such as quarterly or at least annually.
Tip #2. Set Goals for Your Travel Policy — And Revisit Them Often
When setting goals, Saydah recommends that you ask yourselves questions such as:
- What’s best in class for travel policy?
- What’s going to work for our organization?
- How do we get there?
Claxton adds that you also need to examine the extent of your success by asking questions such as:
- Are we making progress?
- Are we moving forward in the way that we need to?
- If not, where can we tweak travel policy, the travel program, or the data set we’re getting?
“Everyone’s goal is to save money to have a better travel experience,” notes Claxton. “The number-one way to save money in a travel program is through the better application of travel policy.” There are, however, multiple avenues to achieve this. Factors that will influence your choices may include cost perspective, time perspective, and sustainability preferences.
Tip #3. Align Your Travel Policy with Your Values
Travel policy reflects your organization’s values, which in turn represent your company culture. Saydah views a travel policy as an agreement between the organization and the traveler. “It’s a compact that says, ‘Here’s a statement of our shared values, here’s the statement of our culture, and here’s how we are going to address what we think is important within that policy,’” he says. This approach helps define how a traveler’s going to interact with the policy and how an employer is going to interact with the traveler.
Tip #4. Keep Employee Experience Top of Mind
Organizations are increasingly prioritizing employee experience in addition to organizational goals when it comes to shaping employee travel. “We need to take a healthy look at how we’re managing things so we can better move forward and create a better experience, not only for the people that are traveling on our behalf but the organization as a whole,” Bammer explains.
One way to improve employee experience is to involve employees and travelers, along with executives and department leaders, in the conversation as travel policy is crafted, Saydah says. Claxton adds that it also helps when you’re setting goals to view a travel program as a service to the people who are traveling and to keep their needs and wants in mind.
Tip #5. Track Your Successes, Learn from Your Failures
When you’re setting travel policy goals, make sure they’re achievable and include a way to measure success. “You want to make sure that you are getting feedback and understanding what’s working and what’s not,” Bammer notes. Assessing where you’re at right now, where you’re going, and what the pathways are to get there are key steps when you’re determining how to measure success, Saydah says.
In terms of metrics, don’t try to measure everything or make tracking progress too complicated. Instead, prioritize where you’re most looking to increase adherence to a policy and begin with those top goals, Saydah says. “It could be as simple as online adoption for a certain segment of your travelers,” he says. Other metrics may include savings in terms of average ticket price or costs associated with the bookings.
Claxton adds that measuring success relies on being data driven and that organizations should ask questions such as: How can we make measurement data driven, and how can we move forward in that same direction?
Whether you’re making updates to your travel policy, or starting from scratch, this template is your step-by-step guide for crafting a travel policy that supports your organization's goal and aligns to your organization's culture.