You may have heard about the travel policy violations recently uncovered at the Environmental Protection Agency. Cabinet Secretary Scott Pruitt is alleged to have violated some of the strictest travel policies around – those of the Federal Government. He appears to have committed a long list of travel policy infractions like: upgrading himself to first class when only authorized for coach, requiring his admin to book him only on Delta so he can rack up frequent flyer miles when other flights were cheaper, upgrading work associates to First when they weren’t eligible, staying at unapproved luxury hotels and arranging to travel back to his home state under the guise of calling it a ‘business trip.’
While this is an extreme example that could result in jail time if he’s found guilty, you don’t want this kind of abuse to run amok at your company. Take a look at these travel policy guidelines, and then communicate the plan to your team. It’s easy to get everyone on board if there are clear rules for everyone to follow.
Do’s & Don’ts
Do decide who gets to upgrade a flight: if it’s based on seniority or title, make it clear in your travel policy’s booking guidelines. If it’s based on the number of miles flown, set the number and stick to it.
Don’t allow some of your team to travel in comfort while others squeeze into coach. Keep it fair or you’ll have some resentment building.
Do book the trip as soon as you know the dates. The cost of airfare and car rentals increases as you approach the departure date. Ask your staff to book their flights and cars early to save on transportation costs.
Don’t let unused tickets expire. When a trip is cancelled, many travelers forget to apply the refunded airfare value to upcoming flights.
Do some planning around traveler safety. A failure to plan is a plan to fail. You may have been lucky so far, but one day there will be a security issue or safety threat and you don’t want to be scrambling to help your staff when they’re across the country.
Don’t let your team travel without collecting their contact information and schedule. Unless you have an agency that houses everyone’s itineraries, you need to stay in the know about where your team is traveling and where they’re staying during the trip.
Don’t forget to gather documentation. The details of a trip’s cost can be hidden in an employee’s credit card statement. Unearth receipts for air, car & hotel so you can account for your yearly travel spending when it’s time to negotiate supplier contracts.
Do explain the reason you need this data. Educate your employees about how their choices affect the company’s bottom line. Your company loses its bargaining power for volume discounts when your employees book hotels, airfare or a rental car outside of the list of preferred suppliers.
Don’t let your employees stay just anywhere. When you consolidate your business with a certain hotel chain, you can demonstrate your spending power and negotiate for preferred rates and elite status. Using a managed travel company to monitor compliance can tell you which employees book at the preferred vendors and which don’t.
If travelers are routinely ignoring your company travel policy, examine your policies to see if they match your company’s culture and employee expectations. Travel Leaders Group can help create a travel policy and booking guidelines to keep your company’s business travel program on track. Check out our article - Travel Policy Health Check: Are Your Employees Buying In?
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