How to make sure your travel program is better than it was last year

Spring is approaching and nature isn’t the only thing coming out of hibernation. Business travel is picking up. If your travel program isn’t already bustling with flight, hotel, car and rail bookings, it’s likely to happen soon. Are you prepared?

1. Review the travel policy.

The travel policy is critical to your travel program’s success. It defines what you want to achieve and usually covers issues such as cost savings, traveler experience, risk and security, and sustainability. But it shouldn’t necessarily look the same from year to year. Given current circumstances like inflation, shifting air and hotel rates, climate change, and geopolitical concerns, the travel policy you operated under last year may not be sufficient now. Have you taken a close look recently? When was the last time you communicated to your organization about when travel is business-critical and when it can wait? Have any travel and expense rules changed? What about updates in the online booking tool (OBT)? Think about approval processes. Will any travel requests need special approvals or advance reviews that weren’t previously required?

If you uncover opportunities or gaps in the policy, call in your internal stakeholders to address them. This may involve senior leadership, human resources, procurement, travel risk management, sustainability, finance/accounting, and the IT team. Once the travel policy review is complete and all changes in place, re-introduce it to your organization. Make it a regular practice to communicate about the policy throughout the year (maybe once a quarter). And invite travelers to share feedback about their experiences under the policy to help inform travel policy reviews.


2. Ask your business travelers for their opinions.

Asking business travelers what they think is an effective way to get the insights you need to build a strong travel program or improve policies already in place. Managing a travel program isn’t always easy, but neither is being a business traveler. Beyond duty of care, supporting your travelers’ needs is simply the right thing to do. To find out what they need, ask.

Be clear about what you want to learn from your surveys. Set goals, build a survey review process, plan to send surveys regularly, and decide how you will use what you learn to make improvements. Further, how will you demonstrate that you integrated survey findings into the travel program?


3. Make sure travel program communications are digitally accessible for all.

A well-dressed woman wearing tinted glasses checks a phone as she walks down the street.

You may be surprised to learn who within your organization has difficulty simply reading your travel program communications. People with disabilities, English-language learners, and those with limited technology skills may not be as engaged simply because they have trouble accessing what you send. Overlooking this can lead to lower engagement, less satisfactory and missed opportunities for your people. To help meet travelers’ needs, create content using alternative text, color contrast, captioning, and multiple formats, like audio recordings or video tutorials.


4. Keep your business travelers’ profiles clean.

Travel program servicing and fulfilment rely heavily on accurate profiles. Updating traveler profile information should happen at least annually and will require action from travelers and travel managers. We recommend using an HR feed for profile delivery. Run reports from your OBT and compare them against the company’s employee reports; purge travelers who are no longer with the company or no longer traveling. For new and separated employees not on an HR feed, add or update profiles as soon as the employment status changes. Then set up a communication plan to regularly encourage travelers to keep their profiles current. At minimum, this could happen during your company’s “downtime” (if such a time exists), but regular checks throughout the year may prove more efficient.



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