Do SA business travellers toe the travel-policy line?

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TravelPolicy.jpgTraveller non-compliance is an increasing area of concern among travel buyers and managers internationally, with great efforts made to persuade travellers of the benefits of compliance that extend beyond “because the company said so”.

A recent study conducted by FCM Travel Solutions and the African Business Travel Association (ABTA) revealed that the level of non-compliance among South African travellers is limited, however. At least 42% said that their travellers rarely or never booked out of policy, with a further 39% indicating that it didn’t happen often.

Non-compliance culprits, according to those surveyed, appear to be senior management and C-level staff, and predominantly because they feel they can do a better job themselves and can find it cheaper online. The long approval process and lack of training and knowledge were further reasons cited for non-compliance of travel policy.

Interestingly, the millennial generation, often criticised for bucking travel policy, were among the least likely to rebel, according to the respondents.

EuanMcNeil_HS.jpg“Compliance has a broader focus than just whether employees are following policy guidelines. It relates to metrics and culture, both of which can help to generate travel cost savings in different ways. If you can’t measure how compliant your travellers are, or are unsure of how to enhance your corporate culture, improving your company’s overall travel performance and your bottom line could be a challenge,” explains FCM Travel Solutions South Africa GM Euan McNeil.

“A lack of compliance among your travelling employees can result in significant missed savings through unauthorised and non-compliant bookings for air, hotel and ground travel, which over the course of a year, or even a few months, can significantly erode potential savings.

“By optimising your travel policy design and improving traveller compliance via a TMC-provided online booking tool, corporates can save more than 30% on their travel spend.”

Corporates are increasingly relying on their TMCs to assist them with traveller compliance, says Monique Swart, founder of the African Business Travel Association (ABTA). “It was encouraging to see that over 57% of respondents said that their TMC played an important role in helping corporates drive their compliance. Had we run the study in previous years, I am sure that this number would be much lower, so this is certainly becoming an area in which the TMC can show true value.”

According to the study, corporates see education as the main way to encourage travel policy compliance, with 55% of respondents choosing to go this route. At least 48% reported non-compliance to the traveller’s line manager, while only 18% named and shamed.

If non-compliance is an ongoing issue, says McNeil, corporates can adopt several strategies, including up-front traveller education, information sessions or, for repeat offenders, written warnings or individual accountability. “If there is no redress for out-of-policy bookings, your policy has no impact and no authority. Ask your TMC to help you establish a strategy for policy enforcement that is tailored to suit your corporate culture.”

For more information on technology specialising in travel, contact FCM Travel Solutions.

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