Is the one-size-fits-all corporate travel program a thing of the past?

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Is the one-size-fits-all corporate travel program a thing of the past?

The business travel industry seems to be overrun with services these days: TMC Service, online bookings, open bookings or indeed combinations of any of these. 

Today's business traveller has also changed, there are: VIP’s, Millennials and coming next is Generation Z all of who have diverse wants and needs.  Archaic corporate travel programmes demand focus on cost savings for the organisation.  There is little or no focus on the business traveller which is counterproductive.  This approach stifles modern thinking and behaviour with a low trust and high control doctrine of policies.  Policies which are imposed rigidly will result in an increase of rogue travellers who deviate from the programme. 

When travellers become frustrated with the lack of consideration on their time they will seek options out with policy and this will create many headaches for the organisation. For example, many travel policies dictate travellers must use a certain hotel chain in order to maximise on affordability.  However if the location of the nominated hotel results in your employee having to travel longer - this wasteful time does not set harmony in the already exhausted and homesick body. Your policy is out of date and should be renewed.

Travel is 3rd largest expense for many/most organisations therefore an out of date policy may create unnecessary costs.  It is critical for the health of any organisation spending must remain visible. You need to know the who, what, where or when of your spending.

If you are looking for a way to manage your company's travel and expenses the bad news, is, the one-size-fits-all policy is no longer appropriate nor beneficial for today's multi-generational workforce.  The good news is, creating a policy that fits your company and employees specific requirements is easy to create and will prove useful in more ways than one.  In my experience a well designed travel policy must be created using the following principles:

Focus on the user:
Fundamentally there must be a paradigm shift with the move from low to high trust at the core of the policy.  Achieve the correct balance between flexibility, guidance and limitations.  Exercising a common sense approach will have multiple benefits for all concerned such as a happier and healthier workforce resulting in higher retention and less sick days all of which has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Expect your travellers to make good corporate decisions and from positive expectations will come positive results.

Cost control:
An effective policy should encourage and reward the the user when making good decisions which result in positive savings for the organisation. One way of doing this is through gamification.  The younger generation are incredibly comfortable with the understanding of gaming this means a large proportion of your workforce already understands the concepts of rewards and badges, so you should make full advantage of this.

Controlling and reporting expenses:
With travel being the 3rd largest business expense Financial Controllers need to know employees expenses are being properly tracked and will require appropriate measures to encourage accurate reporting. 

Today travel is not complex, with multiple options at your fingertips the process of booking, hiring, reserving, reviewing and paying are all done at the click of button.  Today, travel is much more simplified than ever before.  Complexity is created only by the existence of an out of date travel policy with its many limitations and restrictions. 

A yesterday's policy has no place in todays tech savvy world.