Changes that drive travel policy compliance

Travellers who book outside their company's travel policy put their safety and satisfaction at risk, not to mention their employers’ travel budgets and program data. To improve compliance rates, travel managers should consider the following four tips:

1. Understand why non-compliance happens

Before your organization can take steps to redress travel policy non-compliance, travel managers must first understand why travellers book off policy in the first place.

In some cases, employees simply might not know the details of the travel policy or why those details serve them and the company. Travellers might also fail to comply in order to save time or gain some other convenience on the road, which they may feel is in service to their employer, but is often evidence of costly miscommunication. For example, according to one survey from GBTA, even though nearly 90 percent of travel managers negotiate free Wi-Fi in hotels, more than one-fifth of business travellers still purchase it, then expense it later.

Travel managers should consider what will best help their travellers comply with company policy. Monetary compensation or bonus paid time off days are powerful incentives for policy adherence, which we will discuss later, but sometimes a short in-person meeting to discuss the travel policy before a trip is all a traveller really needs.

2. Create a policy with clear language

If your travellers have never read the corporate travel policy, they can’t be expected to follow it. If they have read it but don't fully understand it, the same holds true. It is management's responsibility to draft a policy that uses clear language for easy comprehension.

Although 79 percent of travellers polled in the aforementioned GBTA survey claim that their policies are what guides them when booking travel, many do not understand the basics, such as whether their policies are mandatory or flexible. Half of travellers believe their travel policies are written in stone, when in reality only 36 percent are.

Once the policy is written and has been vetted for clarity and readability, it should not be left on a shelf. Travel managers must update the policy regularly as the organization adopts new travel technology, makes new travel partnerships and identifies new safety risks.

3. Offer tangible rewards for travel policy compliance

Business travellers respond well to rewards. To encourage travel policy compliance, many organizations have developed compensation programs designed to reward employees who book travel according to policy. And when travellers receive rewards for their behaviour, they're more likely to book on policy every time.

But your organization doesn't need to build a rewards program from scratch in order to do this. There is a universe of business travel apps and other technological solutions that are capable of creating a rewards program that matches your policy, your people and your plan for capitalizing on the benefits of corporate travel.

4. Explain duty of care to travellers

A travel policy isn't only a tool for saving money. Provisions within the policy aim to protect travellers from harm. Failure to adhere to duty of care considerations could land an organization in legal hot water. Under criminal code 217.1, anyone who has the authority to direct how another person does work is expected to take reasonable action to prevent bodily harm to that person.

If travellers fully understand how the company's travel policy impacts their personal safety, they are more inclined to follow it. So when explaining the travel policy to your employees, be sure to stress how it benefits and protects them on the road.

Maintaining policy compliance is an ongoing challenge, but being proactive with these strategies can make a significant impact.

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