Employees often have to travel to work to meet with clients or colleagues, attend conferences, and secure partnerships on behalf of their company. Business travel is essential, and it can also be very stressful. Employers should aim to help make the travel experience as enjoyable and simple as possible, but balancing employee satisfaction with company needs can be challenging.
Developing a corporate travel program can help companies cater to employee needs while keeping the organization's best interests in mind. These programs give employees the freedom to make decisions about their travel arrangements and preferences while staying within company guidelines. Some businesses might require employees to work with a manager or third-party organization to ensure they adhere to policies and optimize efficiency.
The following guide can help you create a corporate travel program that meets the needs of both the employees and the company.
Developing comprehensive corporate travel programs where employees have more say offers many benefits to the organization. Understanding how corporate travel policies affect your staff can strengthen your relationship with them and encourage decision-makers to implement a formal program.
Individuals often have travel preferences to increase their comfort and enjoyment. Some corporate travel programs allow very little room for individuals to customize their travel methods, itineraries, or accommodations.
Other programs, however, increase employees’ flexibility and autonomy by letting them book their preferred experiences. Some factors that can change depending on the individual include:
By offering more preferences and leaving choices up to the individual employee, companies can help streamline the travel planning processes while ensuring the trip meets each traveler’s standards.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, around half of American employees say their expectations of employers have changed. They’re looking for more support, resources, and perks from their employers to stay loyal to the company. Companies can meet these new expectations by evaluating and updating their benefits and programs — this includes business travel and leisure extensions, which can be positioned as a company perk.
Giving employees more control over their travel experiences can improve their time spent traveling and increase their job satisfaction. It’s an important consideration since travel can cause increased stress and anxiety; it can also reduce sleep and disrupt routines and lifestyle standards. For example, individuals might get stressed when waiting in security lines, making tight flight connections, or taking “red-eye” flights with a late departure and early morning arrival.
By allowing employees to choose elements of their trip and supporting their needs, companies show employees they care about their well-being and enjoyment. Travelers might feel more ready to return to their regular duties because they could rest and relax during downtime on the trip.
The right programs and benefits can help ensure that employees are happy with their position, responsibilities, and employer, reducing their interest in looking for a new job.
When individuals have more control over their travel, the experience becomes more enjoyable. Employees who have positive memories of their work trips are more likely to embrace future business travel with enthusiasm or even volunteer for more travel opportunities. These individuals can become advocates for your work-travel program by talking about what they loved and accomplished with their co-workers.
Creating a positive experience for travelers can help keep employees happy, but it can also benefit companies.
When individuals arrange their travel within the guardrails of a managed travel program, they can access exclusive rates that companies or the travel management partner books. For example, Navan has negotiated savings of up to 15% off the best available rates at thousands of hotels globally.
Some travel management software even incentivizes traveling employees to make price-conscious decisions. For example, the Navan Rewards program enables employees to earn rewards when they book business hotels below a “price to beat.” The company saves money, and the traveler gets a kickback to use toward Amazon gift cards or personal travel. The program encourages employees to make cost-conscious choices while saving the company money.
A quality travel program can improve organization for your company. When individuals travel for work, they have to track expenses, use specific booking websites and tools, and stay within a budget.
Because there are so many moving pieces when it comes to travel, some companies have entire departments or teams that handle planning and organizing travel. A travel program can set clear guidelines for business travel, which helps employees understand the rules and reduces the impact on administrators and managers. When employees have the freedom to book their own travel — on the company’s platform and within company guidelines — it saves time and increases organization for managers. Approval, booking, and reimbursement processes will free up time that managers would otherwise spend explaining rules to employees; they also reduce employees' frustration over expenses and reimbursements.
Because having more flexibility and control with work trips can improve the employee experience, employees are more likely to stay with your organization. They may even become better advocates for your company, sharing good experiences with their friends and family.
With this increase in employee retention, your company can save time and money on onboarding and training — and invest more in existing employees.
To improve the employee travel experience and reap the benefits of a corporate travel program, companies must develop policies and programs to support the program’s goals and initiatives. These policies, resources, and services should provide employees with the information they need while outlining what your company is responsible for.
Travel programs should be comprehensive and cover many types of travel-related expenses for employees. However, you can reduce the chance of incurring charges for out-of-policy items or experiencing program abuse by establishing what your program covers.
Some common expenses covered by travel programs include:
When employees understand what they can charge to the company, they can better optimize their resources and avoid breaching policies. You should also be explicit about what the company won't cover. For example, tourist activities or souvenirs are often not included in travel expenses because they’re for personal enjoyment.
It’s also important to outline how employees should go about the approval, expense, and reimbursement processes.
Clarifying these processes sets expectations and parameters for employees and gives the company recourse in the event of any violations.
Whether you have administrators arrange trips on behalf of employees or let employees plan travel themselves, you must set price restrictions and ranges. You can establish your budgets in various ways, depending on the freedom you want to provide your employees while they travel.
You can break expenses into categories with price limits or parameters to accommodate different tastes and experiences, like lodging, food, travel, etc. Alternatively, you can provide a fixed per diem or daily allowance and allow employees to spend it as needed.
Fixed policy caps can present challenges for companies. During high travel seasons, employees may find that available rates are above policy guidelines. And when the opposite is true, travelers may book the most expensive hotel room available — so long as it is within policy. Implementing dynamic expense policies and offering incentives for booking below market prices are two modern solutions that help companies save money while keeping employees happy.
Regardless of how much freedom you give employees during the planning process, they will need to make purchases themselves on behalf of the company. Whether they’re booking their travel and hotel or charging meals during the trip, these costs will come out of their trip's budget. Because they must make payments, you should outline how these procedures will work as well as your expectations for employees before, during, and after their trip.
Some factors you should explain to employees include:
Providing your employees with as much information as possible can increase understanding and reduce questions for individuals taking trips. The right resources can improve work trips, increase job satisfaction, and decrease stress.
Your travel program policies should be comprehensive, detailing many circumstances and variables. Making these resources accessible to employees preparing for a trip can help ensure they comply throughout their planning and time away from the office. People may forget original instructions, so online resources can help individuals find the clarification they need without disturbing managers and supervisors.
You can increase accessibility and visibility by using a cloud documentation service to host your policies. Individuals can view documents and information from any device, streamlining work if they are planning from home or need a refresher while away on their trip.
Managing a corporate travel program requires sharing the right tools and resources with your employees. A corporate travel and expense management solution can provide the visibility and assurance employees and employers need when planning work trips.
These solutions can simplify flight bookings, optimize savings, and track spending. Your investments in tools can streamline and improve employee experiences, making travel more enjoyable for managers and individuals.
Navan is a comprehensive, all-in-one travel expense and planning solution that employees can access on-the-go from their phones. It allows individuals to manage their company card, bookings and travel arrangements, and expenses in one location for increased organization and visibility.
Navan also incentivizes traveling employees to make price-conscious decisions through its innovative travel rewards program. When employees choose hotels below the fair market price, they receive rewards in the form of personal travel credits or Amazon gift cards. The company saves money, and the traveler gets an incentive — it’s a win-win!
In addition, the app tracks data and reports information in real time, so employers can better understand how employees are utilizing their benefits and saving your organization money by using Navan. The platform can scale to match your operations for seamless implementation and integration. You can easily adjust spending limits and policies to accommodate different needs and budgets.
Request a demo today and discover how Navan can support and improve your company's travel policy and management.