Adelman clients: For questions or help devising or reviewing your travel policy, contact your client success manager. Not an Adelman client? Contact Us.
Tips for writing a successful travel policy
When it’s time to travel for business, employees need to know what’s allowed, when to book, what supplier to book – and most importantly, why. A well-crafted travel policy provides a consistent, safe, managed and cost-controlled framework that leads to wise travel decisions. Here’s the Adelman/BCD Travel guide to writing a travel policy for your program.
What is a travel policy?
A 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 employees when they plan trips on the company’s behalf.
Why your managed travel program needs a travel policy
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
Which stakeholders should get involved in developing the travel policy?
Travel programs often collaborate with a variety of departments or stakeholders, including finance/accounting, procurement, human resources, security/risk management, C-level, legal/compliance and technology/IT. At minimum, provide your collaborators with opportunities to review and provide feedback on the policy.
Define what you want to achieve with your travel program. Are you going for cost savings, transparency, traveler satisfaction, wellbeing, sustainability or a combination?
Describe the entire booking process from A to Z. Organize it by relevant priorities as agreed with all travel program stakeholders. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for writing a travel policy, but consider this non-exhaustive list as you outline yours:
- Introduction/objective – Explain the goals and sets expectations
- Definitions and terms – Explain or clarify all relevant keywords, terms and phrases within the documents
- Expense reporting – Outline the rules and deadlines for reporting expenses, including links to expense tools, timing for expense reports and approver/approval information. Set per diems and minimum receipt amounts. Where applicable, a separate expense policy may be linked to the travel policy.
- Gifts – Include rules for accepting gifts from or offering them to business partners, suppliers or vendors
- Guest travel exceptions
- People risk management – Define and explain duty of care protocols, safety guidelines, emergency protocols, emergency contacts, etc.
- Spending/expense guidelines – Clarify what is covered and what is not, e.g., reimbursable vs non-reimbursable costs; this may be included as a separate document or policy that links to the travel policy
- Transportation guidelines – This should cover expense parameters (encourage lowest cost options) and rules for rail trips, rental cars, personal vehicles, ridesharing, public transportation, insurance requirements, and accidents.
Write for your audience
Remember that travelers are busy consumers. Make sure the travel policy document is thorough, but keep it as short as possible. Use clear and easy to understand language. Don’t neglect the appearance of the document itself. It should be well designed with examples or illustrations of relevant documents and booking tools. Make sure it’s available digitally and can be downloaded onto any device.
Educate, inform, communicate
Make sure everyone at your company (especially travelers) has access to the travel policy and knows who to contact with questions.
Measure your success
What does a successful travel program look like for you? Define the parameters you’ll measure. If saving is your goal, you should measure total travel spend. Other things you can measure are compliance or traveler satisfaction.
Plan regular reviews
With your travel program stakeholders, decide on a comfortable cadence (quarterly, annually or other) for reviewing, auditing and revising the travel policy. As part of this plan, decide how interim policy changes will be communicated to your organization.