A corporate travel policy is integral to an organization’s travel management process. The policy outlines clear guidelines and rules for employees who regularly go on business trips. However, the same may not apply to executives or C-suite people. This is because their travel needs and the guidelines they may follow are very different.
Therefore, most companies choose to have a separate travel policy for executives, known as an executive travel policy. However, many companies make mistakes while crafting it, impacting your business outcome and the executive’s business travel experience.
Mentioned below are some of the common mistakes company owners or travel managers should avoid when crafting an executive travel policy.
1. Not Setting Clear Guidelines
The first crucial mistake most travel managers make while crafting an executive travel policy is not setting clear objectives. With clear and proper goals, it can be easier for C-level executives to understand the policy, leading to travel policy compliance.
Hence, while crafting an executive travel policy, you must set crisp and clear guidelines which align with your company’s goals. Setting clear goals helps in providing transparency regarding the company’s expectations regarding executive travel, information on executives’ safety and security, reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses, and many more.
For instance, you should mention in the policy what airlines and hotels are allowed for C-level executives, how much they can spend on their personal and client lunches, what leisure activities they can indulge in, etc. This way, executives will have a clear idea of what they are allowed and not allowed to do on a business trip.
2. Neglecting Executives’ Preferences
Another major mistake companies and travel managers make is not incorporating executives’ preferences into the executive travel policy. While it’s important to stay within budget and follow guidelines, it’s also essential to take into account the individual preferences of executives who will be traveling.
This can include considerations such as preferred airlines, hotel chains, and specific amenities or services that they require. Neglecting these preferences can result in executives being dissatisfied or stressed, which in turn leads to low productivity.
You can avoid this mistake by understanding executives’ previous travel preferences. For instance, if most of your C-level executives have traveled earlier by Southwest Airlines or American Airlines, or some of them stayed in hotels with healthy breakfast options or gym facilities, you should include them in your policy. By considering executives’ preferences, you can ensure that they have a seamless travel experience.
3. Overlooking Duty of Care
The number of employees traveling for work purposes has increased post-pandemic, including the executives. Therefore, it becomes necessary for travel managers to ensure the safety and security of their employees.
Moreover, companies also have a legal obligation of duty of care towards their employees. Overlooking executives’ duty of care can land employees in deep trouble, which will impact your company and your business goals.
A comprehensive executive travel policy should include measures that address duty of care concerns. For example, the policy should require executives to attend pre-travel briefings that provide information on potential risks, such as health concerns, political instability, civil unrest, weather conditions, etc., in the destination country. The policy should include guidelines on how they can access business travel support in times of emergency.
The executive travel policy should also require employees to have adequate travel insurance coverage. The insurance should cover expenses for medical emergencies, emergency evacuation, flight cancellations, loss of luggage, etc.
4. Ignoring Cost Control
Corporate travel can be expensive, especially when executives are traveling as their preferences require a higher budget. While providing executives with comfortable and convenient travel options, you should also consider your company’s travel budget. If travel managers fail to set guidelines on travel costs, then you may find your executives’ travel expenses spiraling out of control. This in turn can lead to financial strain.
Hence, the executive travel policy should include guidelines encouraging executives to make cost-effective choices, such as booking travel in advance, using preferred vendors, leveraging business travel discounts, etc.
You should provide clear guidelines for executives on controlling costs. This way, they can minimize unnecessary expenses and ensure that travel costs align with the company’s travel budget. This will help in improving the company’s financial health, and you can utilize the saved amount for other areas of the organization. With travel costs under control, you can ensure better policy compliance.
5. Having a Strict Travel Policy
Another grave mistake most travel managers/ company owners make is enforcing a strict travel policy. While it is essential to ensure policy compliance and cost reduction, having a strict policy in place can ruin many things for executives.
It can limit the flexibility that executives need to manage their schedules effectively. If forced to adhere to a rigid set of guidelines, they may feel stressed to constantly be monitoring their travel arrangements and ensuring they are complying with the policy. Ultimately, this can lead to decreased job satisfaction and reduced productivity.
Therefore, you must draft a flexible travel policy for the executives. A flexible travel policy, unlike a strict travel policy, is designed to provide executives with a high degree of flexibility and autonomy when it comes to their travel arrangements.
6. Ignoring the Importance of Cultural Sensitivity
When C-level executives travel to foreign countries, they encounter various cultural differences that can affect their business interactions. Culture includes a wide range of factors such as values and beliefs, language, business travel etiquette, and many more. If your executive policy does not mention these cultural norms and etiquette, it can offend your prospective clients or stakeholders.
For instance, an executive has to travel to the Middle East to sign an important contract. They lend a hand to shake to the opposite gender as a sign of greeting. However, shaking hands in the Middle East is considered rude or offensive, which your executive may not know. Hence, including cultural information in your executive travel policy is important. This strengthens not only your business relationships but also helps in business travel management optimization.
Have a Robust Executive Travel Policy in Place
An effective executive travel policy is essential for ensuring executives travel efficiently, safely, and within budget. However, travel managers can commit some mistakes, such as failing to set clear objectives or not considering the needs of executives, which severely impact their business travel experience and business travel goals.
However, you can develop a robust executive travel policy by taking the help of a travel management company (TMC). A TMC such as ITILITE helps you prepare a robust executive travel policy according to your executives’ needs. We also provide 24/7/365 business travel support, help you maintain a flexible travel policy, and also help in cost reduction.
Get a free demo of ITILITE to know more about how we can help you get the most out of business travel management.