For some businesses, travel is an absolute necessity. You might have facilities in cities around the country or around the globe, for example, and need to move key personnel between them on a regular basis. In some industries, personnel need almost-constant training updates, and that often means sending them off for a week at a time. It might mean conferences, conventions, sales meetings, factory inspections, and more. Whatever the reasons your company needs its people to travel, it can get costly.
In fact, in the absence of a corporate travel policy, your company could be losing significant amounts of money. If you want to preserve your bottom line and still get your people where they need to be, there are some things you need to put in place:
- Start by reducing travel. Video conferencing, Virtual Private Networks, and a host of other technologies are removing some of the necessities of travel. Any time travel is proposed, ask the question of whether it could be done virtually. Obviously there are many situations where it cannot, but it should always be explored.
- Create a plan that’s clear and understandable. The way to control your company’s travel costs is to have specific policies in place. Those policies need to be clear and specific, and easily communicated to corporate travelers. The plan should necessarily include specific dollar limitations, for example. However, those numbers are likely to change frequently, so they need to be included in a separate chart or appendix, so that your travel plan doesn’t have to be regularly updated.
- Get company-wide buy-in. Your employees need to be on board if you’re going to be able to save on costs. It doesn’t do any good to have a travel plan that will only theoretically save the company money. You need to make sure that every department understands the way the plan works, as well as why the plan is important to the company. Present your goals to the departments before you even develop the plan, and be sure to ask for feedback along the way. Involve people from across the company to help build ownership.
- Consider working with a travel management company. A corporate travel agency can be a tremendous boon. It can take much of the travel legwork away from your employees, freeing them up for other tasks. You should shop around, and even consider doing an RFP so that you can compare the various agencies with one another.
- If you manage travel in-house, make sure you’re getting group discounts. Most of the major hotel chains offer corporate rates. Make sure you’re signing up for whatever group discount policies the rental car companies might offer, and work with the management at your local airport to see if you can arrange a discount on flights, which will also save the expense of traveling to a regional airport.
- Give your employees an online booking tool. By making the travel booking process easy for your employees, they’re more likely to follow your corporate travel policy. This makes it easier to monitor and enforce the policy, as well.
- Educate your travelers. Show your employees how they can book their travel using the online booking tool. Talk to them about reading and understanding the travel limits charts. Make sure they always have the information in front of them. Consider including your policy’s appendix that lists costs whenever a travel packet is sent to an employee, so that she’ll have it right there with her itinerary.
- Be ready to reevaluate. Don’t feel like your travel policies have to be or should be locked in for the long term. If a better offer comes along, thoroughly consider it. You may even be able to simply add a savings option, giving a wider amount of choice to your employees.
- Measure and share results. After your travel policy has been in place for a while, analyze how it’s going. Look at compliance, and identify areas where compliance needs to be improved. Examine costs both in terms of actual travel costs as well as improved efficiency. Provide these results to your company leaders, so they can see the tangible benefits resulting from your travel-saving efforts.
Corporate travel is often simply a necessary expense. Building the right travel policies and finding ways to leverage your group to save on travel is simply the smart thing to do. Follow these steps to get your company on the road to travel savings today.