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 travel programme can help companies cater to employee needs while keeping the organisation's best interests in mind. These programmes 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 organisation to ensure they adhere to policies and optimise efficiency.
The following guide can assist you in establishing a business travel initiative that aligns with the requirements of both the company and its employees.
Developing comprehensive corporate travel management where employees have more say offers many benefits to a company. Understanding how corporate travel policies affect your staff can strengthen your relationship with them and encourage decision-makers to implement a formal programme.
Individuals often have travel preferences to increase their comfort and enjoyment. Some travel programmes allow very little room for individuals to customise their travel methods, itineraries, or accommodations.
Other programmes, however, increase employees’ flexibility and autonomy by letting them book their preferred options. 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 traveller’s standards.
Giving employees more control over their travel experiences can improve their time spent travelling 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 wellbeing and enjoyment. This could mean adding personal travel time on to a business trip. Travellers might feel more ready to return to their regular duties because they could rest and relax during downtime on the trip.
The right programmes 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.
Creating a positive experience for travellers can help keep employees happy, but it can also benefit companies.
When individuals arrange their travel within the guardrails of a managed travel programme, they can access exclusive rates that companies or the tral 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 incentivises travelling employees to make cost-conscious decisions. For example, the Navan Rewards programme enables employees to earn rewards when they book business hotels below a “price to beat.” The company saves money, and the traveller gets personal travel credits which they can use for their next holiday.
A high-quality business travel initiative can enhance organisation within 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 travel management. A travel programme 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 chosen platform and within company guidelines — it saves time and increases organisation for managers. Approval, booking, and reimbursement processes will free up time that managers would otherwise spend explaining rules to employees, and 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 organisation. They may even become better advocates for your company.
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 business travel initiative, companies must develop policies and programmes to support the programme’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 programmes 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 programme abuse by establishing what your programme covers.
Some common expenses covered by company include:
When employees understand what they can charge to the company, they can better optimise 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 accommodation, 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, travellers 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 programme policies should be comprehensive, covering 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 their managers.
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 corporate travel 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, optimise 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 organisation and visibility.
Navan also incentivises travelling employees to make price-conscious decisions through its innovative travel rewards programme. When employees choose hotels below the fair market price, they receive rewards in the form of personal travel credits. The company saves money, and the traveller 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 utilising their benefits and saving your organisation 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.
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