A full 40%. That’s how many travel managers said they'd be tightening travel policy as a result of the pandemic, according to Phocuswright's 2020 U.S. Corporate Travel Study.
But let’s face it: As the business travel landscape keeps evolving, policies will have to keep shifting to keep pace. That means building in more flexibility to accommodate quick pivots, as well as incorporate more nuanced controls to allow for more focused approvals and more streamlined processes.
Plus, as travel policy has increasingly become a company-wide concern, policies must incorporate the needs not only of travel managers, but also of other departments, such as human resources, operations, and finance.
Fortunately, companies can find the solution to achieving this new level of demands, thanks to the sophisticated tools of a modern travel and spend management platform. Here are some of the benefits.
Better traveler safety
Duty of care is not only a top priority for travel managers, according to the same Phocuswright study - it's also their biggest challenge. Dealing with border closings, COVID-19 hot spots, and always-morphing travel restrictions has created exponential stress for everyone.
A modern travel management platform can track those travelers and those outbreaks in real time - but that's just the baseline in helping to ensure their safety. It's in the nuances around policy controls where the tools really distinguish themselves.
When challenges occur - whether during the current pandemic or in future events - travel managers can also use those tools to tweak policies on the fly and prevent travel to countries, cities, or even areas within cities.
It's a feature that's gone from a "nice-to-have" to a "must-have," and it begins with giving admins access to real-time health and safety data, then allowing them to make changes with one click.
More efficient approvals
Who approves essential travel? What's permissible travel? What about testing and vaccinations?
Each company will handle these important decisions differently, of course, depending on its needs, size, and culture. And as those needs evolve, so too may the decision makers and the approval process - shifts that demand quick action. It's why in-person decision making is out and automation is in.
After all, those shifts will likely include tweaking policy depending on the destination and the level of employee. And don’t forget about policy additions for new features like digital health passports. Creating rules within a travel policy in order to escalate approvals automatically means less time sorting out details and a more efficient travel department.
Greater compliance and cost savings
"Increase cost savings" is the number one strategic priority for 50 percent of travel managers surveyed in the Phocuswright study.
Making it happen begins with ensuring that traveling employees book their travel on the company's platform and within policy. Yet compliance remains a problem: A quarter of companies struggle to get compliance above 30 percent, while almost half of the bookings for hotels and car rentals are out of policy, according to the Phocuswright study.
That can happen when travelers get frustrated and confused about what's in and what's out of policy. After all, travel costs can vary per destination, and allowable expenses will vary by employee level.
Setting policies to allow for these variations (and tweaking them quickly when necessary) removes some of the frustration and leads to higher platform adoption rates - which in turn leads to greater cost savings.
And that makes for higher profits and a happier finance department. Who said travel policy can't be a win-win?
Modernizing for the future
Learn more about how TripActions can help modernize your travel program.