2019 Business Travel Buyer's Handbook Establishing a T&E Policy Share Download ChapterWhen it comes to corporate managed travel, the travel policy is the bedrock upon which is built everything from general guidance to specific rules and requirements. But what constitutes an effective policy varies depending on the needs and characteristics of particular organizations. For some, a brief document with overarching guidelines is sufficient, while others need lengthy, detailed blueprints covering an array of fine-grained topics and scenarios. Ultimately, the right policy for your organization is the one that’s sufficiently robust to drive your desired objectives but also flexible enough to adapt to industry changes and the ever-quickening pace of technological advances. The following guide is designed to help you strike that balance and craft the perfect policy for your company.I. Questions to Ponder What are the company's goals and key performance indicators toward those goals? Who will own, write and update the policy?Form a committee of stakeholders from various departments—travel, accounting, administration, finance, HR, marketing, meetings, risk management, sales, strategic sourcing/procurement, training, accounts payable, expense management, IT, and any department that employs frequent travelers—plus international representatives to recommend policy elements to a writer and to seek traveler input.Obtain a few travel policies from colleagues within and beyond your own industry and from your travel management company; seek a range of examples from brief to detailed.Get buy-in on a proof of concept from at least one executive before drafting a document. Feedback from that person or group will set the tone and direction as the committee drafts policy.One person with travel industry knowledge should write the policy, including input from managers, travelers and travel arrangers to improve the likelihood of senior management buy-in and support.Include representatives for all involved countries to encourage support and compliance.The policy won't work without the signature or a letter of support from the CFO or CEO.A staff leader like a controller or senior finance or HR executive should own the policy and take responsibility for updating it as needed. Who should be subject to policy?The policy should apply to anyone traveling on the company's expense, including consultants, job candidates, customers and subcontractors.The policy should stipulate that individual travelers and group travelers each are subject to identical policies, unless a separate policy covers groups, conferences and meetings.Greater cost control comes with a single policy that covers all locations, but this style interferes with individual locations' autonomy.A company that wants to balance consistency and autonomy can institute an umbrella policy that individual divisions or locations can restrict but not relax.Should policy apply equally to all levels of employees? Some companies apply special consideration for high-ranking executives, for those whose time is most valuable financially and for those who require more security. Some companies draft separate policies for executives but do not communicate these to all employees. Recognizing road warriors by loosening policies for those who cross mileage or overnight-stay thresholds produces better business results in terms of recruiting, retention, willingness to travel and overall trip effectiveness. However, such a tiered travel policy requires more administration and may incentivize travelers to take unnecessary trips. To mitigate disaster risk, companies can forbid more than two or three executives from traveling together, such as a CEO and CFO traveling on one aircraft. Should the company deploy separate policies for individual countries or regions? A policy that applies to all employees worldwide is the most consistent, but local laws and cultural constraints make mandated compliance to a global policy impractical and inadvisable. The global policy should be the standard, and the company can adapt it to local needs.An umbrella policy with addenda for individual countries will work if travel expense or management data is available. Companies can group countries with common travel requirements and cultures into regional policies. Keep local standards, legislation, practices and budgets in mind. If travel is paid for with a federal contract or grant, consider relevant travel restrictions like the Fly America Act, as well as reporting requirements that apply to the contract or grant. Consider Export Controls regulating the shipment or transfer of software, technology and equipment from the U.S. to other countries.Should you make separate policies for international travel? The company may decide to draft separate policies depending on the destination country and length of the trip, though it's not necessary.Policy should cover passport and visa acquisition, health certificates and security and emergency services or advise employees where to locate this information.Travel managers also should work with their travel management companies and security providers to make sure they're providing this information for each trip. How forceful should the policy be?This major company-culture consideration is completely subjective and will depend on company goals.Some policies mandate actions, identifying consequences for noncompliance as strict as termination of employment or denial of reimbursement. The policy should address exceptions for unplanned occurrences and local regulations. Companies subject to Sarbanes-Oxley, the Sunshine Act or other such regulations should enforce mandates in strict accordance with written procedures and should audit for compliance.Companies can present guidelines and require written explanations when travelers don't follow them.Or they can present policies as standard procedures that carry the company's stamp of approval with the CFO or CEO's signature.Unmanaged travel programs should direct travelers to use their best judgment and then ask them to share travel information to aid duty of care.