What does a great business travel policy look like?

Business travel policy airport

In todays globalised market place, business travel is an essential part of conducting business. Whether that’s client meetings, attending conferences, or training sessions, prospecting, business travel facilitates important connections and growth opportunities. So, how do you ensure you are effectively managing costs, taking care of employees and maintaining productivity? You need a business travel policy. 

We’ve compiled a basic guide to creating a corporate travel policy that is both comprehensive and effective. Remember, each business and traveller has unique requirements and goals, so it’s always best to speak to your account manager to find out what’s right for you. Here’s are some business travel policy basics…

1. Travel policy purpose & scope

Begin with a clear statement of the policy’s purpose. Explain why the policy exists and what it aims to achieve. This sets the tone and helps employees understand the importance of adhering to the guidelines.

Define who the policy applies to. This could include full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, and interns. Also, specify whether the policy applies to domestic and international travel.

2. Authorisation & approval

Outline the process for travel authorisation. Specify who has the authority to approve travel requests and what criteria they should consider. This could be based on the purpose of the trip, the cost, and the expected outcomes.

Detail the steps required to obtain travel approval. This might include submitting a travel request form, obtaining manager approval, and ensuring alignment with departmental budgets. Additionally, your Travel Management Company (TMC) can set up your approval systems to work both online and offline.

3. Travel booking procedures

Preferred suppliers & booking platforms

List preferred suppliers (e.g., airlines, hotels, car rental companies) and any preferred methods of booking employees should use, i.e. via an online booking tool, phone or email. Directing more bookings to preferred suppliers helps you leverage better corporate rates and ensures compliance with the policy.

Booking behaviour

Specify deadlines for booking flights, hotels, and other travel arrangements to optimise costs and availability. Encourage advance booking to secure better rates. and consider flexible fares, where plans might change.

4. Expense management

Clearly outline which expenses are covered by the company. This typically includes airfare, accommodation, meals, transportation, and other necessary travel-related costs.

Also list expenses that will not be reimbursed. Common non-reimbursable expenses might include personal entertainment, mini-bar charges, and personal items.

Detail the procedure for submitting expense reports. Include deadlines, required documentation (receipts, invoices), and any specific forms or software to be used.

5. Travel safety & security

Provide guidelines for ensuring personal safety while travelling. This can include advice on health precautions, local laws and customs, and emergency contact information.

Specify whether the company provides travel insurance and what it covers. This should include medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost luggage, and other potential risks.

Hotel business travel policy

6. Accommodation & transportation

Set standards for accommodation. This can include preferred hotel categories (e.g., 3-star, 4-star), maximum room rates, and amenities that should be included.

Outline acceptable modes of transportation for different types of trips. This could include guidelines for flights (e.g., economy vs. business class), rental cars, public transportation, and ridesharing services. To help manage costs, consider different classes depending on the length of flight, e.g. 3 hours plus.

7. Traveller wellbeing

Encourage employees to take necessary health precautions, such as vaccinations, medications, and hygiene practices. Provide resources for travel health information and support.

Acknowledge the impact of travel on work-life balance. Encourage employees to take breaks, avoid over-scheduling, and manage their workload to prevent burnout. Your TMC can offer valuable expertise with maximising traveller comfort and productivity, including knowledge of optimal routes, stop overs and time zones.

8. Sustainable travel policy practices

No matter where you are on your sustainability journey, this will become an increasingly important part of your travel policy. Promote sustainable travel practices, such as choosing eco-friendly accommodations, reducing waste, and minimising carbon footprints. Encourage employees to use virtual meetings if feasible, combine multiple trips and opt for sustainable suppliers.

9. Compliance & accountability

Stress the importance of complying with the travel policy. Highlight any consequences for non-compliance, such as denied reimbursements or disciplinary actions.

Explain how and when the travel policy will be reviewed and updated. Encourage employees to provide feedback to help improve the policy over time.

10. Travel management company

Working in partnership with your key stakeholders, your TMC can help you build and manage an effective business travel policy. Here are some of the key areas where they can help;

  • Crafting a travel policy
  • Building approval & authorisation processes
  • Monitoring behaviour & compliance
  • Negotiating corporate rates & supplier management
  • Conducting regular reviews & suggesting ways to improve


Get your travel policy in place

A well-crafted business travel policy is essential for managing travel expenses, ensuring employee safety, and maintaining productivity. By including these key elements, your organisation can create a comprehensive and effective policy that supports its travel needs while promoting responsible and sustainable travel practices. Remember, the ultimate goal is to provide clear guidelines that help employees travel efficiently and safely, while also protecting the company’s financial interests.