The findings of a travel policy audit can come as a surprise to many companies. Outdated per diems, preferred suppliers that no longer make sense for the company’s travel patterns, and minimal or non-existent duty-of-care plans are just a few of the findings that can raise concerns. It’s common for travel policies to be written and then forgotten for years, especially for small and midsize businesses. This “set it and forget it” approach can be detrimental for achieving travel program savings, duty-of-care and process efficiency goals. That’s why it’s important to audit your travel policy once a year, as your travel patterns, program goals and supplier policies may have changed and may need to be realigned.
Part of auditing your travel policy is evaluating your current air, car and hotel contracts. You may not have noticed that your spend volume increased with your preferred suppliers yet your contracted rate hasn’t improved. On the other hand, your travel patterns may have changed and now another supplier may be a better fit for you. Remember, your suppliers won’t knock on your door announcing they’ve lowered your rates. It’s always best to take a proactive approach.
Supplier offerings and policies are areas to consider when auditing your travel policy – both can change quite often and negatively impact your travel program. Think about how changed cancellation policies could be adding costs to your travel program. Many hotel brands have changed their cancellation policies form 6 p.m. day of check-in to 48 hours and sometimes 72 hours out. Were your travelers aware of that? Be sure they are so that they don’t unknowingly incur cancellation fees because they weren’t aware of a hotel’s cancellation policy. Also, have you addressed the airlines’ basic economy fare in your travel policy? Basic economy fares are highly restrictive fares that cannot be changed or cancelled. Their lower cost may attract some of your travelers, but if it turns out that the traveler can’t make that trip, the ticket is lost.
Duty of care is another important topic that should be addressed in your travel policy, but is often neglected. Duty of care is the company’s obligation to its employees that are traveling on behalf of the company. That obligation consists of knowing when and where an incident (terrorism, extreme weather, political instability, crime, etc.) happens in the world, the severity of that incident, if any travelers are potentially affected and how to communicate with those travelers. If this isn’t part of your overall travel policy or if you feel your current duty of care policy is lacking in any way, now is the time to look at this.
Auditing your travel policy and making adjustments to it can be a daunting task due to the time and travel industry knowledge required. For expert assistance with this task, contact Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited.