A Travel Policy an internal document that details everything relating to business travel for a particular business. And it’s just as important for small businesses as it is for large ones - in fact, with tighter funds, it’s even more important in many cases.
Travel Policies unambiguously set out things like how to book business trips, how to pay for them, and spending caps or budgets for different aspects of a trip (from airfares to client entertainment).
One of the dual considerations when creating a Travel Policy is ensuring that it’s cost-effective enough to not damage the business itself, while at the same time providing a certain level of comfort to travelling employees (in other words, if a Travel Policy is solely concerned with saving pennies, it would dictate that employees could only book 1 star accommodation, but that in turn could result in employees refusing to travel for work).
It is important that a single person or team takes charge of producing a company’s travel policy, and who this falls to will depend on your specific circumstances and the size of the business. If writing a travel policy for a small business, with less than 10 employees, it’s probably a job for the CEO or founder; if you’re a larger company, with 50-100 employees, it could fall to the CFO, or even an HR manager.
Whatever the case, it should be approved at the highest level, and various stakeholders should be consulted - especially your accountant, who will be able to ensure it’s in keeping with HMRC guidelines.
This is an area where Flight Centre Business Travel (FCBT) can save you huge amounts of time and stress. Our travel agents can do far more than book flights; they are experts in guiding such policies, and can help you avoid classic traps and pitfalls, even providing a template for you to work from, if you request. Further, when our agents know your travel policy inside out, they are able to more efficiently suggest the best possible travel options as per your unique guidelines.
Okay, we get it. The words ‘travel policy’ aren’t going to muster a ground-shaking level of excitement and enthusiasm in the typical employee. Therefore, it’s really important the end document is as simple as possible, and as readable as possible. This is something that needs to be appreciated, read and understood by normal people, and not just the legal department (not that there’s anything abnormal about lawyers, but we’ll leave that for now).
As long as you cover the following key areas, you’re off to a winning start.
WHERE TO BOOK
If you use a service like FCBT, it will be imperative to communicate to employees that that’s how they should book their travel, and not, say, using random apps on their smartphones.
HOW TO PAY
Similarly, employees must have a clear protocol for this. It’s normal for flights, for example, to be paid for straight from the company account, whereas for purchases on the road, employees typically pay from their own accounts, and claim back later.
HOW TO CLAIM BACK
It’s very important employees know not only how to claim money back, but what they can actually claim for (more on that below). If you use FCBT, we recommend you use our app, Sam, which among other things provides a platform for filing expenses.
AIR AND LAND GUIDELINES
If there are certain airlines or routes you prefer your employees to use - or indeed to not use - these should be clearly noted in your travel policy. Again, if using FCBT, consultants would know automatically to follow such guidelines when booking your trips.
HOW TO USE BOOKING TOOLS
Last but certainly not least, a quick ‘how-to’ for preferred booking tools is a useful thing to include in the policy. If using Sam, our custom-built app, we could help with this part of the policy.