Travel policy, risk management systems are important

Is your company's business travel costing you more than it should? Are you taking preventative measures to insure the comfort and safety of your company's travelers? You need to have a travel policy and travel risk management system in place.

A travel policy states customized established guidelines for both a company and its employees. It addresses which airlines, hotels, and rental car companies that a business prefers. The policy specifies who can use the corporate credit card, a guideline before spending personal funds for business travel, allowable ticket classes, types of vehicle rentals and when a company will pay for lodging. It can also include how much travelers may spend on business meals, parking, tolls, and very importantly what is a reimbursable travel expense.

Employees need to be trained on the policy. A professional travel account manager can report to you how to improve your current policy or even write a new one. They will make suggestions proactively to save you more money on travel, negotiate vendor agreements, and be in regular contact with you regarding your company's business travel. Call centers and online travel websites don't do that.

Business travelers create a profile that gives them a voice in preferences for their travel arrangements. Professional agents have a company's travel policy and the traveler's profile to make reservations efficiently. Special requests from travelers can be accommodated with permission from a designated company employee. Account managers onboarding new businesses will collaborate with a decision maker to see what exceptions can already be added to a specific individual's travel profile to save time. These exceptions can include upgraded seating, when a more expensive ticket may be purchased, and which individuals can have upgraded VIP services.

Now that your company's travel policy is in place, there is an additional issue to address. Does your company have a travel risk management system? This is a common oversight by businesses when individual employees self-book their travel.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Do you know where your children are?" CEO's should be asking themselves, "Do I know where my travelers are?" Do I have an efficient proactive reporting system in place when an emergency arises in a location where my travelers are? If employees are self-booking, how is that possible? What expert can you delegate that reporting system to? Can they re-accommodate your travelers quickly and efficiently? If not, you may have a very stressful day in your future.

What if you had 5 employees in Boston during Boston Marathon in April of 2013? Would your company be scrambling to figure out where people were? Would additional stress be spent trying to reach the travelers and somehow re-accommodate them? Oops, the phone is ringing. Somebody wants a status update on the safety and whereabouts of their loved one. Could you answer them? You now have a liability issue on your hands.

If you have a professional travel agency that has a travel risk management system for you, simply check your email. You will receive an updated report stating modifications made to employee's original reservations and know your people are safe.

Travelers deserve to have the assurance of personalized service and comfort while traveling so that they can focus on business. Having a live person to call is reassuring if their connecting flight has been cancelled. This can be done while sitting on the tarmac. Their agent team can re-accommodate them before even entering the airport. They won't have to stand in long lines or be put on hold with an internet site to make their meeting.

Top leaders possess the value of delegating responsibilities to experts. They need complete confidence that every person that works or represents their organization consistently reflects their company's mission statement and core values. Having a travel policy and a plan for travel risk management needs to be done by a professional that cares about the success of your business.

You've hired excellent representatives that can handle your business professionally, efficiently and with care. Take that philosophy a step further. To get those representatives where they need to travel, a professional travel service can give you the personal touch your company deserves. Work with professionals who take a genuine interest in your company and its travelers.

Keep your mind on the business at hand and delegate to a professional travel management company to be certain your company has a travel policy and a travel risk management plan.

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Kristen Heyen Noble is a sales representative at Van Zile Travel Service.

Published: Thu, Sep 17, 2015