Five Traveler Habits That Undermine Your Travel Policy

Some booking behaviors could be costing your business big. Whether it’s splurging on a hotel room or arranging business travel at the last minute, deviations from your company travel policy can have an impact on operational costs.

By identifying the main drains on your travel budgets, you can amend your corporate travel policy to make sure the same mistakes aren’t being made over and over again. Here are five issues which you may find are common, along with suggestions on saving some cash.

Going rogue

Most business travelers will book through their corporate travel agent or the specialized app, but some may still ‘go rogue’ and look for better deals on their own. Without prior authorization though, entire trips may be canceled, which means money out of the company war chest. Business travel policies should make clear who is in charge of signing off on travel budgets so that there is no risk of miscommunication.

Tip: Make it clear in the policy who’s in charge of authorizing business travel bookings, and have employees check in with them for any questions or queries.

Third-party bookings

If your employees aren’t booking through the proper channels, they could be missing out on savings with approved suppliers. One of the many reasons to entrust travel policy enforcement to a travel management company (TMC) is that they’ll often be able to offer more cost-effective options through their relationships with providers such as airlines and hotel chains. There is potential for a huge and needless overspend if a more cost-effective option exists and employees just simply weren’t made aware of it.

Tip: Send regular updates via email or company intranet to keep employees up to date on the latest discounts and deals on corporate travel.

Cutting it fine

A recent study of 2.9 million flights within the continental United States found the prime time to book. It showed that, on average, a ticket booked within two weeks of departure costs about $150 more than one booked within the window of three weeks to three months before the trip. Of course, there are just as many short-notice meetings booked as there are scheduled, so it isn’t always possible to optimize savings. But if you have an employee who is regularly requesting travel just days before departure, it may be worth closer examination of your policy to see if there’s anything that can be done.

Tip: Have your travel policy encourage employees to book travel as soon as possible so you have more time to prepare a money-saving itinerary.

Pulling rank

Although your travel policy should aim to be as flexible as possible when it comes to meeting employees’ needs, it’s important to emphasize that the policy applies to everyone. Employees may feel frustrated if the policy dictates different rules to different levels of seniority. By setting out guidelines that apply to the whole company, your policy can present a forward-thinking approach to cutting costs across the board, rather than picking and choosing arbitrarily. Also, by averaging out allowances across the whole company, employee morale will be raised along with the potential price points – which means less cramming into coach.

Tip: Give employees some control over their accommodation – let them state their own preferences on hotel room features, and pack the meal budgets together so they aren’t restricted to fewer options during the day.

Spending your money

The dominant attitude among business travelers can be that, because it’s not their money they’re spending, they won’t mind if the cab costs a little more or they want to impress the client with a fancy dinner. Incentivize employees to come up with their own ways to save the business money. Whether it’s flying to a smaller airport or picking the more affordable hotel room, you can improve the process of delivering savings by rewarding the biggest savers. CWT Trip Estimator analyzes its vast database of past travel transactions to find spending trends, saving opportunities and cost estimates – a handy tool to have if you want employees to consider their spend more carefully.

Tip: Reward the big cost-cutters with a standardized percentage of what they’ve saved your business on travel.

Shaping your corporate travel policy to cover every aspect of business travel can be a difficult process. But knowing how and why employees sometimes try to cut corners is an important step towards creating a policy that will keep them happy and safe – and save you money.

Reap the rewards of increased employee engagement and compliance with our behavior management whitepaper on Changing Travel Behavior.