Business travel has become standard fare for many if not most corporate employees. However, recent research by American Express Global Business Travel found that corporate travel policies are often lacking updates and appropriate oversight, leaving companies exposed to losing hard-earned corporate negotiated rates, and even more importantly, putting business travelers at unnecessary risk.
American Express Global Business Travel analyzed nearly 100 travel policies of global, multinational, and mid-sized companies, and the results showed that:
Less than one-third of these companies overall have updated their travel policies within the last year.
Only 12 percent addressed traveler security despite it being a critical issue for companies to consider as more and more employees embark on worldwide business travel today.
The vast majority (80 percent) 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.
85 percent of global companies require an agency to book hotels. But only 35 percent of smaller companies and large international organizations do the same.
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.
To fill in these gaps, American Express Global Business Travel suggests that companies review their policies and focus renewed attention on:
Security. American Express Global Business Travel wants companies to provide employees with security guidance, including what to do during a travel emergency/disruption, as well as information on security around company assets.
Fees. Employees need to know what fees to expect when traveling, which ones are reimbursable and which ones can be waived in return for booking with preferred suppliers.
Hotel compliance. Travel policies need to address hotel safety and security concerns, as well as cost savings that can accrue with certain reservations.
Mobile devices. Today's business travelers can use apps to help manage trip details before, during and after traveling. Updated travel policies need to include rules for these resources, and help travelers find and take advantage of them to save time and increase compliance.
Lowest airfare. Sometimes, what seems like the lowest air fare really isn't. When individuals book fares with non-preferred airlines, negotiated rates can be jeopardized, unintentionally driving up overall travel costs over time.
"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."