The changing scope of business travel programmes

Compliance. Without turbulence.

February 2020

Cast your mind back to a time before iPads, before Alexa answered our every question and before we Insta’d our every move. If you’re a travel programme manager it’s likely you were enjoying what might now seem like a simpler time. You were likely focussed on compliance in the context of corporate travel policies and on ensuring central management of travel costs. ‘Duty of Care’ meant managing extraordinary incidents like national disasters or medical emergencies.

Let’s bring you back to today and the evolution of duty of care. Now, a heady mix of greater scrutiny from authorities, potential audits and more stringent reporting requirements mean travel programme managers’ duty of care is increasingly focused on ensuring employees’ right to work (immigration, regulatory etc.), the need to meet local tax and social security requirements, as well as managing other risks associated with business travel. Add to this, the requirements of the European Posted Workers Directive (PWD) and we have a vastly transformed role.

The compliance obligations arising from business-related travel fall on both the employer and the employee, but employees often expect support from their employer – and that’s you, travel programme managers – to help manage their compliance responsibilities.

Today’s business travellers expect support to enable travel at short notice, both in terms of booking and managed compliance. But, how do you get your arms around time-challenged, tech savvy mobile employee populations without loading additional administrative burden on them?

We see two essential elements in delivering “turbulence free travel”: Compliance and Experience. These key elements can often seemingly conflict, but getting the balance right is critical.

How do organisations transform a business travel programme that was historically focused on ‘spend and security’ into a contemporary one, aligned with the broader compliance challenges organisations face today?

In futureproofing your business travel programme you will need to:

  • Define your Duty of Care Ambition – by understanding global compliance risks and prioritising them
  • Define a roadmap of enhancements and change management strategies to embed the enhancements in our business
  • Identify and educate key stakeholders for a business travel working group – look for a broad stakeholder group who can approach business travel compliance holistically

It’s been said before but sometimes less is indeed more. Today’s business travellers often have to navigate numerous pre-travel and on-travel activities, and adding steps are likely to be met with resistance. Technology is now enabling businesses to remove additional employee input by using travel booking data to run the compliance assessment in the background. This allows organisations to put employee experience at the heart of the process, thereby delivering on enhanced duty of care with minimal disruption for travellers.

The experience for you, the travel manager, is important too. Building processes and protocols that allow you to efficiently access data, make assessments and take action, allows you to focus on your prioritised risk areas, and can be critical in ensuring the success of your programme.

To deliver a genuinely positive user experience to all both employees and corporate user, you will need to:

  • Place the employee at the heart of the process 
  • Embed your programme into existing processes by seek opportunities to connect data
  • Consider how the corporate user will engage in the process. 

The story does not end here. It continues to evolve as new forces and obstacles emerge in the form of rules changes and new regulations.

Constantly monitoring and challenging the definition of duty of care will enable your organisation to deliver compliance… without turbulence.

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