While changing a travel policy may not be as common as processing reimbursements or building budgets, travel managers still must keep their eye on the bigger picture. As technologies change and traveler trends evolve, portions of a policy could easily, yet unintentionally, become irrelevant. But that doesn’t mean a massive overhaul is necessary every time something new comes along (except for maybe this one time). All it takes is a little advance planning to develop a future-proof policy that evolves as business travel does.
What’s a future-proof policy?
A future-proof policy’s purpose is simple: to accommodate new developments in business travel without requiring a total travel policy overhaul. It’s built on a strong but flexible foundation designed to absorb whatever changes may come in traveler trends and technologies.
Why is it so important?
The goal of future-proofing a travel policy is to avoid a total rewrite or a complete overhaul each time a new technology or app is introduced. (Depending on your company and the age of your policy, though, you might need to do it just this once.) Industry-wide disruptions may not occur that often, but when they do, the ripple effect extends through every sector of a company. Mobile booking is preferred over travel agencies. Ridesharing has eclipsed ride-hailing as the preferred method of ground transport for business travellers. Every piece of the travel process, from booking a flight to returning from the airport, has been upended by these new advancements in travel technology and traveller behavior.
Unfortunately, not every travel policy is built to withstand major changes as quickly as they come. Restrictive programs, unclear rules, and complicated policies can make it very difficult to accommodate new trends, technologies, and traveller expectations. So when there’s a here-to-stay shift in business travel and a travel policy hasn’t kept up, that could inadvertently shut out more efficient, affordable, and convenient tools for your travellers. That leads to noncompliance that could cause larger problems down the road.
Tips for building a future-proof policy
- Build every part of your travel policy for a frictionless experience. Can travelers easily look up the rules? How simple is an itinerary change? Do travellers know how to approve a trip? Ensuring that these pain points are clearly answered in the travel policy brings you one step closer to preventing the need for a future rewrite.
- Avoid guidelines that may place your travelers in a box. A hands-off approach, with guidelines that don’t deal in absolutes, makes it much easier to accommodate for changes in travel as they happen.
- Keep one eye on the future. Your policy isn’t based on space flights (not yet, anyway), but travel will inevitably continue to change. Roadblocks to accommodating future changes come in many forms, from limited options for travelers to policy discoverability to ease of compliance. Fixing those details now will vastly improve traveller experience later on.
From the policy itself to the company-wide rollout, every part of the travel management process plays a role in future-proofing. Each company and policy must consider its own culture and needs, which could make future-proofing seem daunting or overwhelming.
To help guide your decisions as you review and revise your travel policy—or write your company’s first one—Uber for Business has developed a template for each step in the process.
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