• Travel policies: why to follow the rules

    Nick "Brainy Traveler"
    As a business traveler (frequent or not) do you often wonder about the value of following the rules?  There aren’t many companies who take a laissez-faire approach to booking travel, so you and I know the rules exist.  Things like ‘book these specific airlines or hotels because they are preferred,’ or ‘book two weeks in advance because it is less expensive’ or ‘book using the agency so we can track where you are in case of emergency,’ etc.  I’m convinced following the rules isn’t so much a function of what they are but rather why they are there.  So, as a self-diagnosed brainiac I’d like to shed a little light into the WHY.

    1. Macro versus micro-economics.  Not every travel supplier can meet all of your company’s travel needs.  That’s why you get better rates on some airlines and hotels rather than others.  Chances are you get the best deals on those suppliers who can serve the largest amount of your company’s overall volume.  Travel management is a game of macro-economics.
    2. Size matters.  Even though not every supplier can meet the entire need, it doesn’t mean you are better off using anyone and everyone.  The best companies build travel programs that effectively consolidate “preferred” suppliers into as small a bundle as possible to meet as much of the need as possible.
    3. The almighty dollar.  The implication for individual travelers can be pretty huge.  Why should you pay more to follow the rules when it’s your travel budget on the line?  Only when you understand the macro-economic impact of your individual decision will that ever make sense.  That doesn’t make the pill any easier to swallow, it just is what it is.

    Building preferred supplier programs is more of an art than it is a science.  Building a travel policy to support that program is even trickier business.  The bottom line is that each of your decisions has an impact on the bottom line!  And according to the 290 travel managers surveyed recently as a part of CWT’s 2012 Travel Management Priorities study, improving traveler compliance is the second most important priority for 2012. If you ever feel like the company’s direction doesn’t make sense, start asking more questions about the macro-economics of the deals and then perhaps re-evaluate what you can do to support the company’s overall savings objective.  Do you ever feel this kind of tension?  If so, let’s hear about it!

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