The major issue hindering T&E compliance – and 3 proven solutions

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With travelers constantly on the go, your finance staff may not talk with them too often. But for compliance with your T&E process, better communication could be the key.

That’s the main takeaway from the report Travel Policy Communication: Understanding Disconnects and Increasing Compliance from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and HRS Global Hotel Solutions.

GBTA’s research found that there’s a big disconnect between the way those managing the travel process view policies and the way travelers do. And with that disconnect comes misunderstandings, maverick spending and expensive errors.

Power to the policy

Check out the report’s key findings and see how your finance staff can bridge the gaps to inspire more compliance:

1. Prioritize face time. According to GBTA, 54% of managers say they hold in-person policy meetings, but only 20% of travelers say the same. That lack of face time, when travelers hear from Finance firsthand and can ask questions directly, could be why some don’t always get policy right.

With busy schedules and full workloads, getting everyone together at one time is hard. But that doesn’t mean these in-person meetings should be omitted. When it’s time for a policy update or refresher, try providing more options. Instead of one large session Friday at 9 a.m., have a few shorter sessions (Monday at 8 a.m., Wednesday at 3 p.m., one the next week, etc.) so every traveler can do what works best. Bonus: These smaller groups will create more intimate, interactive discussions.

2. Know their preferences. GBTA’s report also found a rift between how travelers are given policies and how they’d like to receive them. For example, 39% of companies use a policy handbook, but only 27% of travelers like that. More than half (56%) of travelers prefer email, but only 49% of companies use email.

Clearly, the medium matters. That’s why it’s a good idea to survey your road warriors on their preferences. And if their responses vary, try a few methods (e.g., host an in-person meeting, then email an update after). Over time, you can see what really works and adjust accordingly. If travelers get news in a way that’s convenient for them, they’ll be much more likely to heed it.

3. Provide specific guidance. When it comes to making travel arrangements, GBTA found that managers believe travelers use preferred booking channels for flights 90% of the time and rental cars 81% of the time. But travelers said they only use them 63% and 57% of the time, respectively.

Of course, if your company’s committed to these money-saving tools, you want travelers to actually use them. To make it as easy as possible, have your finance staff add instructions and tips to policy, or demo booking channels during meetings.

Another idea: Ask seasoned travelers and managers to show others the best way to navigate and find deals. Seeing how their peers utilize the tools (and how simple it is) could spur even the most resistant travelers to give them a try.