Every business with traveling staff needs a policy that clarifies the processes involved.
This requirement isn’t just for the travelers and those planning the trip. It’s the evidence you’ll need that you covered your duty of care should anything go off-kilter before your staff gets home.
For that reason, your travel management plan needs to be a fluid, interactive document people refer to and know how to use. This takes a lot of resources to put into action, but once it’s ready to go, an efficient travel policy saves everyone time and hassle later.
So how can you make a travel management plan that keeps the control firmly in your hands without leaving you with all.the.work? Pull out your old manual, review what works and what doesn’t, and then create your new, improved version using these tips.
1. Integrate Your Company’s Mission in Every Step
What’s the overall mission of your company? That aim should drive your travel policy.
For example, if your mission is empowering people to live their best lives, your corporate policies should help make this possible for your staff. But if the mission includes establishing smart financial steps, much of the focus on traveling would be optimizing expenses and reducing unnecessary spending.
Note that the overall assumption of a travel policy is always traveler safety. It’s your company’s legal duty of care to ensure each person who leaves on a business trip returns in the same condition in which they left.
You’ll need to combine the company mission with the core aim of keeping your staff safe along the way. As an example, if an oil field company’s goal was maximizing profits, they’d still need to find accommodations for their workers. Whether they used mancamps or hotels, they would need to invest funds into comfort and hygiene rather than booking the cheapest lodging possible, even if it was unsafe.
Make sure each step of your travel policy integrates the values and mission of the company while promoting safety over all else. When these aims are clearly established before you start planning the rest of your policy, it falls into place.
If your policies are called into question due to an accident, you can point to the policy that shows a direct link from each aspect of travel to individual safety.
2. Keep it Simple
You want this document to be usable by the general employee. Chances are, your busy worker will be put off by lengthy manuals. Instead of trying to find the answer to their question, they’ll come to you or skip it entirely.
Try to narrow your travel policy down to the bare bones. Using a web-based site to house the document helps make this feasible. You can have a basic manual that gives simplified instructions most people will need to do the task at hand, then include a hyperlink to more detailed information in case someone wants to learn more.
E-documents also simplify the travel policy process because you can include links to your approved vendors, pages that streamline booking or answer FAQs and more. That hundreds-of-pages document becomes a few dozen or less, with internal links to applicable resources instead. And if you do need a printed copy, you’ll reduce waste and stay eco-friendly.
3. Include What’s Covered and What’s Not
You’re giving your travelers more freedom to control certain aspects of their trip. Whether the expense is paid for by a company virtual credit card or reimbursed as Meals & Incidentals, each person needs to understand covered versus non-covered expenses.
Don’t assume something is common sense. You need it written explicitly in your document to cover your bases in a court of law.
Take the time to research and write out instances that are unlikely to happen but might, in which your company wouldn’t be responsible for the damages or expense.
For example, if your insurance company specifically prohibits coverage for a behavior or activity, include that in the travel policy. You might be surprised when your employee returns from a business trip with a broken bone due to ziplining and wants you to pay their hospital bills. But if ziplining was expressly prohibited, your attorney may get you out of that obligation.
Be clear about who covered vendors are and who are excluded, what kind of meals and beverages are reimbursed as M&IE, and what behavior is acceptable while your staff is representing your company. It may seem like overkill right now, but it could come in handy later.
Designing an effective travel management plan lets you delegate the pieces while staying in control of the whole. Make sure it’s mission- and safety-aligned, easy to use, and covers your expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask for input from the stakeholders in your company to help minimize gaps and loopholes.
Train your staff on how to use the manual, and enjoy the extra time you’ll have now that you don’t need to do everything yourself!