In the past few days, I have had a number of discussions with people that manage corporate travel programs for a living, in Australia and overseas. What’s clear is that the way organisations manage travel is changing and so too are their policies.
In this update, I’m going to focus on travel policies and how we communicate them to our travellers. Over the years I have assisted organisations to develop, manage and communicate their travel policy to their people. My biggest observation is that travel policies remain out of sight for most travellers. Fewer than 10% are aware of the content of their organisation’s travel policy. This is an alarming statistic, given we are heading into a significantly different and rapidly evolving travel environment.
Pre-COVID, the majority of travellers had the freedom to cross borders, use any type of transport, and the ability to participate in events and activities throughout most parts of the world.
Fast forward 18 months, and the travel landscape has transformed. The shadow of COVID-19 will remain for a period of time. Travelling anywhere is likely to require vaccinations, an understanding of local health policies and procedures, pre-trip COVID-19 testing regimes, periods of quarantine, and a complete understanding of what their obligations are if travellers are exposed to COVID-19.
So how do we adapt to these new requirements, and importantly, how do we ensure our workforce remains compliant?
Best practices and policies
First and foremost, we need to make it easier for our travellers. To do this, we need to break down travel into logical chunks. These are the chunks I use:
- Travel planning and approvals
- Booking travel
- Pre-trip travel procedures
- Travel expenses
- While you’re away
- Returning home
Within these chunks, you provide the specifics you need people to follow to ensure they are complying with the organisation’s policy and procedures. As an example, I have broken down the specifics relating to travel planning and approvals as follows:
Travel Planning and Approvals
- Planning travel
- High-risk travel
- Private travel
- Travel budgets
Managing changes to your policy
The advantage of chunking information is that it’s very easy to incorporate new processes into your policy and communicate them to your travellers. For example, incorporating mandatory pre-trip COVID testing into your policy and procedures is as simple as adding another section to the pre-trip travel procedures.
It’s also easy to visually display information to your travellers in a place where it’s easy for them to access. This is how we do it within Nutrip and the information sits alongside the links to create a trip plan, submit an expense and track your budgets.
Clear and concise information
Now that we have the structure in place, it’s important to provide simple instructions on what travellers need to do to comply. For example:
You are required to create and register a trip plan within Nutrip for all work-related matters that occur outside your normal place of work, no matter where you are travelling to and how you get there. This includes travel for internal and external meetings, conferences, workshops, training, recruitment and research activities within Australia and overseas.
Why is this important?
70 to 80% of employees travel less than 3 times a year. Therefore, if the majority of your employees travel infrequently, then it’s vital to present information to them in an easily accessible and digestible format.
This is what drives compliance.