When it’s time to travel, you need your employees to know what’s allowed, when to book, who to book – and most importantly, why. Making sure the travel policy is fit for purpose is a critical first step. Successful travel programs make trips simple, productive and safe for business travelers.
A playbook for travel
The travel policy is the playbook for company travel. It helps travel teams control business travel costs and processes. It’s a set of guidelines that need to be respected by the employees when they plan trips on behalf of the company.
The main objective of an effective travel policy is to keep travelers safe, while also supporting the company goals. When properly constructed, the travel policy sets a consistent framework for travelers and the various stakeholders involved in the travel program. It is a living document that should and will shift over time. Think of your travel policy as a brief but mighty document useful for:
- Aligning business travel with company goals
- Satisfying duty of care and legal obligations for the organization and its people
- Supporting quality travel experiences for employees
Make sure the right departments are involved in travel policy development and regular reviews, including stakeholders from finance/accounting, procurement, human resources, security/risk management, C-level, legal/compliance and technology/IT.
“Should I stay or should I go” questions help craft policies that regulate safety, cost control and sustainability efforts.
Make sure you consider:
- Trip planning and viability
- Shifting meeting type behaviors
- Duty of care
TRIP PLANNING AND VIABILITY
SHIFTING MEETING TYPE BEHAVIORS
DUTY OF CARE
- Establishing or revising pre-trip approval processes and focus on restricted or high risk markets
- Viewing current risk ratings, restrictions and travel requirements of destinations (testing, tracing, health passports)
- Assessing operation and frequency of flights and hotel services
- Visa and Health passport requirements
- Coordination of security traveler tracing with risk teams
- Define business essential trips
- Determine per type of trip the most optimal configuration
- Can this meeting/trip be conducted virtually?
- Reduction in travel trends around: Single day trips / Internal travel / Last minute trips
- Additional pre-trip approval (including online booking tools)
- Implement pre-trip testing protocols, health passports and protocols for illness en route
- Register with safety partners, security teams and BCD Travel's Alerts Application and Security Tracking tools
- Telework tools and policies
- Assess repatriation possibilities
What your travel policy should consider right now
- Expense guidance: Update your corporate travel policy to address expense guidance for tests, PPE, vaccinations and travel safety requirements.
- Transfer to/from the airport: How do they get to the airport? Public transport, own transport, rental car, taxi or a pre-arranged transfer? All have different potential exposure levels.
- Dining options: Do you want your travelers to have the option to choose to eat in locations/venues where they have increased exposure, or do you want them to have a meal in the hotel? If in the hotel, will it be the restaurant or room service?
- Allow lounge access: Do you want your travelers to walk around in the airport and sit in public spaces or do you allow them to go into the lounge.
- Anticipate potential forced extension: Do travelers have enough personal supplies and medicines in case their trip is unexpectedly extended? This is particularly important for any traveler with a health condition.
- Travel essentials: Do you want to provide travel health kits (e.g., gloves, face mask, hand sanitizer) or allow travelers to expense these supplies?
- Medical matters: Do you have procedures in place for travelers who get sick on the road? Are you giving guidance on medical insurance?
- Traveler manual: Do your travelers know the basics? Outline what they need to do in case of emergency, etc.
- Tailored messaging: What health and wellness options can you flag up to travelers? Tailor TripSource® messages to tell them about convenient hotel gyms, nearby parks with jogging paths, juice bars, walking tours and more.
- Supplier mix: Can you add health-oriented hotels to your supplier mix? What kind of offerings would be most valuable to your travelers?
Promote the travel policy on all channels
Once you’ve defined the changes in your policy, you need to engage your travelers in their adoption. Provide them with the tools and the ability to make choices based upon their business needs. Help them understand through easy to digest visual assets, such as infographics, FAQs and videos, via emails, intranet content and OBT programming.
Your travelers will only want to return to travel if they feel safe
Traveler wellbeing is consistently a top three priority for corporate travel managers, just behind savings and duty of care – but pre-COVID travel programs didn’t always reflect this.
The pandemic gave new resonance to this topic. Your people are your greatest asset; an effective travel policy will prioritize their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Ask your travelers how they feel about getting back on the road. Survey them regularly about what helps them stay safe, productive, happy and healthy.
What you can do
Travel policy checklist
What BCD Travel is doing
The last two years have highlighted the importance of having a dynamic, digestible and meaningful policy that is easy to update as global travel risks evolve. If your policy is outdated, your travelers won’t have the information they need as they return to travel. Now is the time to revamp your policy so it can be a cornerstone of your back to travel strategy.
Senior Vice President, Advito