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Tips for Making Corporate Travel Policy Connect to Travelers, by American Express Travel

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May 2  |  meeting and event industry news, meeting and event planning resources  |   Andrew Maxwell


“As today’s global marketplace is constantly changing, and the logistics of capitalizing on growth in emerging markets make travel more complex than ever before, it is not enough to just develop a corporate travel policy and assume that employees know what to do with it,” said Helen Brough, Advisory Services Global Policy Practice Director, American Express Global Business Travel. “Companies should be actively leveraging and communicating their travel policy to employees and enlisting influencers within the company such as Human Resources, Security and Legal to support these efforts.”


Less than One Third of Companies Have Updated their  Corporate Travel Policies within the Last Year According to New Research from American Express Global Business Travel.

Corporate Travel Policy Tips Include:

  • Make it Accessible: There are many ways a company can address communicating to travelers and encouraging compliance, including using pre-trip tools, policy messages integrated at the point of sale and even prior to booking. Intranets and other portals can also provide a channel to communicate policy to help travelers make the right decisions.

 

  • Appeal to the Traveler: If travelers do not understand their travel policy or know where to find it, it is unlikely that it will be adhered to or that travelers will be able to benefit from the perks.  Most employees want to do the right thing by the business, so businesses need to let employees know what is in it for the company and for them.  That way the traveler can benefit from the perks of following the policy and the company can benefit from travel policy compliance.

 

  • Revisit for Relevancy: Establish a policy team with representatives from all stakeholders, including those that can represent the traveler, and charge them with the maintenance of the travel policy.  Then communicate changes to travelers so everyone can stay current.

 

  • Eliminate Uncertainty: It has been reported that one in four expense reports is typically sent back to the traveler for clarification or additional documentation support. Travel policy should take into consideration the process for expense reimbursement. The better a traveler understands the reimbursement process, the less time will be spent on re-doing these reports.

This new Best Practice Roadmap report on Travel Policy, produced by EXPERT INSIGHTS, shows many organizations still need to close the gap between their policy content and emerging industry trends.

 

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Does Your Company Need To Update Its Travel Policy?

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April 26  |  meeting and event industry news, meeting and event planning resources  |   Andrew Maxwell



 
New research by American Express Global Business Travel outlines gaps and opportunities for companies to strengthen managed travel programs by focusing on their travel and expense policies early this year. Analyzing nearly 100 travel policies of global, multinational, and mid-sized companies, the research shows less than one third of these companies overall have updated their travel policies within the last year. This oversight can leave companies exposed to losing hard-earned corporate negotiated rates, and more importantly, may put travelers at unnecessary risk.

“It’s a new year and with any good business practice, corporate travel departments are setting goals, including bringing their programs in line with the competition and external marketplace dynamics,” said Christa Degnan Manning, director of EXPERT INSIGHTS research, American Express Global Business Travel. “However, like many improvement resolutions, reviewing and revising travel policy tends to get neglected. Yet a healthy travel policy can help companies achieve long-term success. Policies can support business-critical goals such as risk mitigation and employee engagement, as they touch on issues from traveler safety and security to corporate social responsibility.”

 


 

This new Best Practice Roadmap report on Travel Policy, produced by EXPERT INSIGHTS, shows many organizations still need to close the gap between their policy content and emerging industry trends.

Highlights of the policy gaps exposed in this report, based on 100 corporate policies reviewed, include:

  • Only 12% addressed traveler security despite it being a critical issue for companies to consider as more and more employees embark on worldwide business travel today
  • 80% did not address reimbursement of ancillary fees such as checked bags, reservation change fees, or other for-purchase services offered at hotels and car rentals
  • Only 35%  of smaller companies and large international organizations require an agency to book hotels, compared to 85% of global companies
  • None of the travel policies addressed the use of mobile applications or even referenced tools they may have available for travelers to use on the road or when working remotely
  • 70 percent of companies do not provide specific guidelines to travelers on when it makes sense to book airfares through a non-preferred supplier if the ticket price is less expensive

“Policy is the foundation of a successful managed travel program and maintaining this infrastructure by conducting regular check-ups is paramount,” said Helen Brough, Advisory Services Global Policy Practice Director, American Express Global Business Travel. “In our policy practice we have identified over 300 areas companies should be reviewing in their policy for the best outcomes – for the company, for the traveling employees, and for ultimate travel management program success. Companies that are most successful are those that regularly review and update their travel policies based on changing market conditions as well as focus on communicating those policies to their travelers.”

FILLING THE GAPS

  • Security: Companies should provide guidance to their travelers for the range of areas associated with security, such as how to prepare for a trip, what to do during a trip, and after travel, particularly when traveling to high-risk destinations. Guidance around what to do during a travel emergency or disruption should also not go overlooked in policies, as well as information on security around company assets.
  • Fees: Addressing the various fees that travelers are confronted with while on the road remains a policy opportunity. It should be made easier on travelers in understanding what is reimbursable as well as being made aware of waived fees and other benefits associated with booking with preferred suppliers, such as free checked baggage on airlines or complimentary wi-fi as part of a hotel rate.
  • Hotel Compliance: Safety and security rank at the top of the list of reasons for traveler compliance to hotel policy. Knowing the city to which a traveler is headed is only half of the equation, particularly when locating travelers in an emergency. This area also poses the greatest area of leakage in travel policy, compromising negotiated rates when booking hotels outside of policy. Companies should communicate to travelers the reasons for booking hotels at the same time as air reservations.
  • Mobile Technology: There have been advancements in travel technology that can help business travelers manage trip details before, during and after traveling. Company supported mobile applications can be used to facilitate communication, both during critical issues like travel emergencies and for day-to-day support, including policy and traveler benefits notifications.  A successful travel policy should include rules for these resources, and help travelers find and take advantage of them to save time and increase compliance.
  • Addressing Lowest Logical Airfare: Companies increasingly have introduced language instructing employees to find the lowest fare possible, regardless of whether or not a flight is with a preferred supplier. The reality of this practice is that the individual trip savings by booking cheaper fares with non-preferred airlines can jeopardize negotiated rates, unintentionally driving up overall travel costs over time. Guidelines should be established indicating when this practice should be used. Recent capacity constraints, merger and acquisition activity, and even low-cost carrier dynamics require that travel managers revisit this concept and communicate it appropriately in policy.

The one thing companies can’t afford not to do: UPDATING TRAVEL POLICY. Less than one third of companies have updated their travel policies within the last year according to new research from American Express Global Business Travel.

 

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9/11 Anniversary: WTTC urges governments to promote Freedom to Travel

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September 14  |  meeting and event industry news  |   Andrew Maxwell

On the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC.org) is calling on governments to adopt smarter visa and border security policies to promote Travel & Tourism as a driver of jobs and economic growth.

After the 9/11 incident the security of air transport for both passengers and freight has been transformed and visa regulations heightened. As a result, the aggravation factor for travellers has increased immensely. High costs and lengthy procedures for obtaining visas, bans on liquids in hand baggage and intrusive body scanners are just some of the obstacles travellers have to overcome.

David Scowsill, President & CEO of WTTC says: “Ten years after 9/11 the sympathy of the world is rightly focussed on the families who were impacted by this terrible tragedy. The enhanced security processes put in place post 9/11 were entirely appropriate as a short-term response to a very dramatic situation. Over the last ten years, however, the barriers to travel have become even greater, rather than diminishing through better use of technology and passenger profiling.”

Processing times for those lucky enough to obtain visas to visit many countries can run in to hundreds of days, and airport security has become an unpleasant experience.

Rather than welcoming visitors with their export dollars, many countries are closing the door in the face of travellers. It is time for a fundamental change in the minds of governments – balancing security needs with freedom to travel by moving away from the current approach to a faster implementation of visa waiver and trusted traveller programmes.

“Tourism accounts for 258 million jobs and 9% of the world’s GDP – it is a driver of global economic recovery. It is vital that countries take the necessary steps to protect their borders; but equally important that governments recognise that smarter policies exist to achieve that aim,” David concludes.

 

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What in the World Is Going on with Air Travel

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September 6  |  meeting and event planning resources  |   Andrew Maxwell

It seems every other day we keep hearing weird stories about air travel. Whether it be a celebrity getting kicked off a plane for not wearing the “proper” clothes, a flight attendant flipping out on passengers for no apparent reason or somebody urinating in the aisle because the plane was waiting too long on the runway. Which begs the question – “what in the world is going on with air travel”?

No doubt air travel has changed since 9/11 but come on…

Of course since 9/11 we have come to expect longer lineups and delays as the airlines make sure all passengers are safe. And we really do appreciate that. But it seems lately that the airline stories we’re hearing are just plain weird. Is this a sign of an industry that has been stressed out economically for close to a decade now? Or is this the result of an industry that is simply abusing its increased authority?

In the last few weeks there have been stories with mixed messages being picked up by traditional media. First there were the stories about airlines banning pets completely on board only to be followed up weeks later with news that those airlines reversed their policy on pets and now they were all allowed back on board again. Rather than try and keep up with each airline’s policy (mind you for groups I would suggest you contact the airlines directly) here’s a site that gives an overview on pet friendly airlines.

And it seems today that fuel surcharge is an item line that is just here to stay regardless of the cost of fuel. And I can certainly sympathize with any industry where fuel is a large cost of doing business. But now we are starting to hear that airlines are looking at additional add-ons that they can charge. I was just getting used to making sure my stomach was full so I didn’t have to buy a meal on board and now I find out that I’m going to have to start to pay for each and every bag I check. It seems it’s getting harder and harder to distinguish between the discount airlines (where in fact we’re used to paying for everything extra) and the mainstream airlines (where we used to think we were getting better service than the discount airlines).

Does the airline industry need to develop new passenger policies

By looking around a plane’s cabin no doubt you would notice that we are very much a diverse group of people. And trust me there have been times where I believe I’ve even said out loud that I wished there where business only flights. I read the other day where the lead singer from Green Day was kicked off a flight because his pants were hanging too low. Hereto I have to admit there are times when I’m walking down a street and I want to grab the pants of the person in front of me and pull them up. That’s an age thing I know. Incidentally the airline in question apologized and the singer was promptly put on the next flight. But this raises a larger question. Is it time for this industry to develop a new set of policies? Policies that are consistent so that there are no gray area as to what we can wear, what the airline is responsible for and what we’re are responsible for. Sort of like the policies they put in place for luggage years ago. With luggage, we have a clear idea of what the airline would pay for and what they would not pay for should our bag go missing.

Maybe we would be better off if the airline industry did sit down and come up with a clear set of policies that they all could live with. Then, whether we agree with those policies or not, at least we wouldn’t be left guessing if we’ll be allowed on board at the airport.

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