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Travel Policy That Considers the Traveller

 Sooner or later, if you manage your company's travel, you'll be tempted to draft a Travel Policy.  Beware: it will be a thankless task, and here's some things to consider and some things to avoid.

Usually, the subject arises when one of your travelers has booked an unauthorized trip, paid too much for a ticket, stayed in an expensive hotel, or something like that.  Suddenly, someone in your organization goes ballistic, and vows, "We've got to get our travel under control!"  And, of course, this person will be right.  But don't think it is going to be easy.

Given the trigger for developing a travel policy is usually negative, it is very common that the policy will reflect this: lots of "don't dos" and not many "dos."  Considering how much effort your company has gone to recruiting top notch staff, the very last thing you want to do, however, is make their mandatory travel obligations any more painful than is necessary.  So, do consider, for example, building in a cushion between the absolute cheapest hotel rate or airfare and the one your traveler might prefer (because of airline/hotel preference, status considerations, ability to upgrade, etc.)  A common rule for airfare might be up to $75 per direction over the lowest applicable airfare.  This might allow your valuable employee to upgrade with status/points or earn more frequent-flyer miles.

Another consideration is whether or not to permit your traveler from using a business trip to add on a holiday.  This is a pretty common practice, and if done right it can be a win-win for the employee and the organization.  Make sure, however, you nail down your policy on this ahead of time.  The best practice, in the case of airline tickets is to insist the travel management company provide a quote AT THE SAME TIME AS THE TRIP IS FINALIZED for the trip that would have been booked for business purposes.  Make sure this is done in synch with the actual airline ticket issued; otherwise, it is impossible to go back in time to figure out what the business trip only should have cost.

An excellent article on drafting a travel policy can be found here.




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