Outlining a well-defined travel and expense policy can be difficult, especially if you are dealing primarily with executive travelers. Executives typically enjoy autonomy in their work environment and make many decisions on their own without seeking approval first. Thus, implementing a travel and expense policy that requires extra checks and balances is challenging, but it can be done with the full support of your executive board for best results.
Build Your Team
In order to create a well-defined policy, you will likely need input from the people who are traveling most. By including them in the policy drafting process, you can ask direct questions about their travel experience and get a good idea of what issues need to be addressed. You will also gain buy-in for the new policy by being inclusive in the early stages.
Asking The Right Questions
Small companies who have very little travel on their dime can get away with very simple travel policies, which include reviewing each travel plan on a case-by-case basis. On the other hand, larger companies need to build a travel policy that serves as a comprehensive guide for all travelers. This means covering all the details from how to book travel, meal allowances, which hotels to work with and more. You will also need to dig a little deeper and determine when, if ever, employees can upgrade to business class, what additional accommodations they should get for entertaining clients on the road, and which expenses need approval in advance.
Often, the most important part of your travel and expense policy is how executive travelers will be reimbursed for their travels. A thorough reimbursement policy will outline how expenses need to be reported, how long it will take to review them, and how the traveler will be paid. It is imperative that your policy also provides ample detail on expenses that will not be covered, such as cancellation fees, overspending on meals or alcohol, or travel arrangements that were not properly approved in advance. When executive travelers are faced with an uphill battle to get their reimbursement, it usually breeds distrust. By defining how and when they will be paid, you can resolve this quickly.
In order to ensure compliance with your new travel and expense policy on the road, the best practice is to provide executive travelers with all of the information they need in an easy-to-read format. This is why many companies choose to break their policy down into searchable sections and post it online. Executive travelers can easily pull up the policy from their phone or laptop and review the guidelines without having to make phone calls or risk their personal money when they are unsure.
A well-defined travel and expense policy will not be built overnight. Instead, you need to work with your traveling team members to determine how you can simplify their travels, while also working with your financial officers to determine where costs need to be reined in. Create a checklist that covers all of the variables of travel from the planning stages to the rental cars and the return flight, and make sure you don’t leave out any important details along the way.
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