Best Practices For Managing Business Travel Without A Travel Policy

Managing business travel without a travel policy is as simple as staying organized and finding and establishing programs that work for you.

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Booking Travel Published September 05, 2019   |   2 minute read

Unbridled business travelers, true road warriors, do their best work without boundaries—literal or figurative. They have loyalty programs, book trips on tight deadlines, and secure the most efficient lodging. 

This is where travel policies fall short. While making sense for some corporations, they restrict employees’ choices, and can add unnecessary steps to what should be a seamless process. 

In fact, a report by global travel market research firm Phocuswright found less than half of managed travelers follow corporate policy, whether they were booking flights or hotels. 

As with leisure travel, business travelers prefer control—but a little organization never hurtsBe sure to follow these best practices when managing your business travel

 

Maintain One Itinerary

The best way to manage business travel is to stay organized from the start. Rather than scouring the internet in search of deals, stick to one app or website—such as BusinessTravel.com. This will save your inbox from endless notifications, not to mention your sanity when it comes time to expense your travel. 

It’s also helpful to add notes once you’re itinerary is settled: 

  • Flight confirmation number and planned departure time for the airport
  • Check-in, check-out times for the hotel
  • Loose outline of planned activities for the day
  • Distance from the hotel to the airport and planned departure time for return flight

The goal should be to create one resource for your trip, instead of relying on several. 

 

Explore Partnerships

Business travelers booking with corporate credit cards may have less say in what loyalty programs they enroll in, but unbridled business travelers should explore the loyalty programs that work best for them

You will find you can use your work travel to subsidize personal vacations. Travel website The Points Guy is a great resource for determining what credit cards and hotels have the best reward systems. 

Some things to consider beyond the obvious:

  • Have you built up points already?
  • What cities do you expect to travel to most? What chains are there? What credit cards do their establishments accept? 
  • Do you value experience over cost? 

Beyond credit cards and hotels, Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are working their way into business travel by offering partnerships specific to corporations. These are worth checking out, especially with how prevalent ride-sharing has become. 

 

Download An Expense Reporting App

Twenty-first-century technology has created a “there must be apps for that” mindset among professionals. Indeed, there are plenty of apps on the market with both free and subscription offerings for keeping track of business travel expenses. Two stand out: Expensify and Zoho. The former comes at a $5 per month cost to the user, but for frequent travelers, the subscription is worth it. Expensify integrates with QuickBooks, while linking to other accounts like Uber to track spending. 

Zoho, on the other hand, is an all-encompassing app enabling users to take pictures of receipts on purchases made with company credit cards. 

Talk to your company’s accountant(s) before choosing an expense app, and give it a test run before actually traveling. 

 

Schedule Planning Meetings & Debriefings 

Once you’ve booked your trip, fit it under budget, locked down an itinerary, linked up the appropriate loyalty programs, and settled on a method to track expenses—you should schedule a planning meeting. 

This is a good way to review best practices, while also establishing goals for the trip with your colleagues. If you’re uneasy about traveling, consider meeting over coffee or at an external location—somewhere away from the office, to ease the pressure and expectations of the trip. 

Once you return, schedule a debriefing meeting in a similar setting. Discuss what you liked and didn’t. Document your thoughts, and save them in your files. You can build up these as references as you travel more. If you’re traveling alone, or work alone, you can apply the same practice: Set aside time to review scenarios, both before and after your trip.

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