Not surprisingly, one of the hardest feats of an effective travel policy is an active implementation. No matter how well planned or laid out, there always seems to be a disconnect between the company’s travel policy and the travelers who use it. Unfortunately this beast isn’t just compliance, but also what the travelers believe the policy allows. A new report from the GBTA Foundation and HRS recently provided data on just how large this perception gap is. Unfortunately, it’s larger than most of us had hoped.
According to the report, 96 percent of North American business travelers say they are knowledgeable about their company’s travel policy. On a broad scale this looks pretty good, right? The inconsistencies come down to the smaller details of the travel policies. For example, half of the surveyed travelers said their policies are mandated. According to the travel managers, it is really only a third. Another example of dissonance is ride sharing. 24 percent of travel managers say ride sharing is prohibited under their travel policy, while half as many travelers believed that as well. It sounds like a no-brainer, but most often a lack of communication causes this disparity.
These travel policy miscommunications may be costing your company money
Noncompliance of any kind can run up travel costs. Without a constant eye on expenses and billing, things can get out of control quickly. But something often overlooked is the value lost caused by this policy miscommunication. For example, 89 percent of the travel managers surveyed had negotiated free wi-fi in hotels for their travelers. Unfortunately, 22 percent of the business travelers were still expensing for wi-fi. The report concluded that they were simply unaware of the negotiation.
How to increase travel policy communication
One key discovery in this report is that perception is more important than reality when it comes to relaying travel policy guidelines. If your traveler does not see or recall seeing an email sent with pre-boarding information, was it helpful in the end? Understanding how your travelers and company as a whole can best understand your travel policy decisions can improve compliance. As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, age and generation has been found to play a factor into how information is best communicated. This report found Generation Y and younger preferred being about travel policies directly. GBTA Foundation hypothesized it may be the employee’s first introduction into business travel policy, and they want to fully understand the process. Understanding how your travelers work best, and their comfort level with compliance will certainly get everyone on the right foot.
Closing the gap between traveler perception and policy reality
Increased communication and through the right channels will hopefully improve your own compliance. Here are a few other tips to close this gap even further.
- Set up an approval process ensuring the travel policy is enforced.
- Alert travelers to noncompliant behavior before they book.
- Keep happy employees by taking note of their traveling preferences.
- Use different channels to communicate and disseminate information.