Periodically, we have a corporate client who asks for our assistance on either updating, or revamping, their travel policy. The most important thing for a good travel program is to have at least some type of strategy in place. The benefit of a good, tight travel policy can be witnessed in the savings a company can claim at the end of a year. (Should you or your company need assistance in updating your travel policy, TravelPlex would be happy to assist you).

Earlier this week, Amanda Metcalf of the Business Travel News wrote an article on the importance of a company having a travel policy. What stood out in the article was the belief that a policy too limiting creates unhappy, and sometimes confused travelers. 

The writer states that travelers like to have guidelines for their travel options. Almost childlike, unpoliced travelers desire clarity on what is permissible and what is not. Especially the increasing millennials travelers, who are used to having structure in their work ethics.

Following is Amanda Metcalf's article - read more about the importance of a good, concise and realistic travel policy:

No Policy, No Service

By Amanda Metcalf for Business Travel News

{Excerpt}

A little bossiness may be a good thing. Consider that no group of business travelers is less happy than those who have no travel policy or a policy in which every decision is optional. That's across both genders and various age groups, levels of international travel, trip frequencies and travel policies. All 18 groups studied in BTN's Traveler Happiness survey registered scores between 50 and 60—except those with no policies or optional policies. And after those who travel abroad the most, the next most disillusioned group is those with preferred travel policies.

A strong travel policy, in contrast, presents travelers with filtered but reasonable options and in exchange makes them feel supported and safe. These travelers are among the Traveler Happiness Index's happiest.

Travelers with Lenient Policies Crave Guidance
Based on BTN's survey, the less managed the traveler, the more he or she desires clarity on the travel policy. BTN spoke to two travelers whose companies had eliminated most of the rules around travel. One directed travelers simply to use good judgment, and now, "I find picking hotels and picking flights kind of stressful," he said. The other's company emailed travelers just to "be humble and confident" in their travel decisions. Instead, she feels uncertain. "I kind of wish there was more guidance in terms of what to spend," she said. "I feel like I'm always trying to spend as little as possible because I just don't know what's OK. ... I would stay at a little nicer hotel if I just knew what I could spend."

Those with no policy or optional policies might be even more dissatisfied if they weren't so indifferent. They considered three-quarters of the trip factors BTN studied, such as choice and quality of suppliers and ease of expense reporting, to be less important than their more tightly managed peers did (see the Traveler Perceptions chart below). That suggests managed travelers have been exposed to and understand the benefits travel management can deliver.

Travelers with strong policies not only find most trip factors more important, but they also think their companies are delivering. Stronger requirements on travelers enable their companies to offer more in return. An investment banker, for example, told BTN her company has negotiated airport lounge access for all travelers, enables travelers to use company rates for personal travel, and subsidized Global Entry and TSA Precheck registrations. An HR exec who previously worked under a highly managed program and now works for herself told BTN she misses the VIP treatment of corporate travel discounts for personal travel. "I'm just back to being a regular old mass-produced human," she said.

Mandating May Overcorrect
A travel program can go too far, though. Travelers operating under mandated programs, even if they're relatively satisfied, are less so than their strongly advised counterparts. One traveler who works for the federal government, for example, said, "I'm forced—and the word I chose probably gives you my idea of how I feel about it—I am forced to use" a proprietary online booking tool.

She also expressed frustration with the lack of flight choices available when flying between two non-hub cities. "We can't go out in the commercial market and choose the best flight for us," she said. "We have to choose … contract airfare or go through certain processes that are cumbersome to justify" it. Another traveler's company just instituted a voucher system with a major airline that is now mandated. When she could choose carriers, she'd used business travel to build up status and points with another airline. She has joined the mandated carrier's program, but it'll take a while to accumulate enough "to make any difference," she said. Additionally, the new carrier does not serve her personal-travel destinations well.

BTN also spoke with an HR executive who feels the friction of his company's strong-arm tactics. Should he not book through the company's booking tool, not eat breakfast at his hotel even for months straight or not log expenses in a timely fashion, his chain of command is notified and it factors into his performance review.

The restrictions of a mandated program affect the company, too, according to the federal employee. "If I was able to choose fares based upon what works best for the organization and myself, as opposed to being locked into a government contract, I would have greater flexibility and maybe even cut back on the time spent traveling."

Click here to read the entire article, including sections on 'Opportunities to Improve Strongly Advised Programs and 'Safety & Security: It's for Their Own Good', as well as to view the 'Traveler Perceptions' chart