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Your Company Travel Policy - how does it work?

Your Company Travel Policy - how does it work?

Old May 4, 18, 4:29 pm
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Your Company Travel Policy - how does it work?

Hi Fellow FT members - I have a bit of an unusual question: the times that I have been on FT I have been amazed by the number of business travelers who get to fly first class or seem to frequently get to stay at top hotel chains like Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, etc. I have mostly worked at start-ups so I have no experience with the kinds of travel allowances, etc. most companies allow - so I thought I would ask. How about you tell us the type of company and its size (no company names needed) and the general outline of your travel policy for airfare, hotel, and meal allowances? If a bunch of folks post it might make for an interesting comparison.

How about it?
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Old May 4, 18, 5:43 pm
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I suspect that you are going to get a lot of apples and oranges, but what the heck....

I work in a very small division (4 people) in a pretty large company (110k employees worldwide). The company has a published travel policy document which documents the "rules".

In the case of my team, all of our flying is domestic US. We are required to pick a flight which is within $50 of the lowest priced flight departing within 2 hours +- from the desired flight time, using Egencia as our online travel agent. There are a ton of exceptions though - ULCCs like Spirit and Allegiant don't show up in the search results, I am allowed to not choose Frontier, usually based on the ridiculously long layovers I see. Policy exceptions have to be approved by my 1-over manager, but it has never been a problem as long as I am not trying to do something stupid. On paper, we have a preference for either Delta or American, but that preference doesn't necessarily override the price threshold. Also, Basic Economy fares are excluded from our search results, and Domestic First is always out of policy.

For rental cars, we have negotiated rates with National and Hertz and are required to choose them when they are available. The negotiated rates seem to be between $35-$39/day for most markets, so that winds up being a pretty good deal.

Hotels are a mixed bag. In some marketplaces we have negotiated rates with specific properties and are supposed to pick those first. If one is not available, we have a corporate preference for Hilton family first, IHG second. Each marketplace also has a maximum per night rate, so you wind up with something like "In Peoria, you should stay at the Radisson. Unless they have no availability. Then you should stay at a Hilton family property. Unless it is more than $120/night (base rate). Then you should pick an IHG property. Unless it, too is more than $120/night. In that case, just pick whatever dump you can find which is under $120/night". So I usually just pick whatever is closest to my customer site and my manager approves the exception.

Our policy explicitly states that any points/miles/freebies that we accrue are ours to keep, but we are obviously not allowed to choose more expensive options in order to maximize those benefits. For example, I can't pick a higher fare class, just to earn more points, or book a hotel room on a 5k bonus points rate.

All of our travel expenses are required to be paid on a corporate Citi card, so I lose out on the advantages of using my own affinity cards, but I find that having the bills paid automagically without me having to do more than go to a web page and categorize the charges to be a worthwhile trade-off for me.

It sounds kind of complicated when I spell it all out, but for the most part I am able to just select the most convenient flight, hotel, and car - and then go do my job. I'm not allowed to buy first, but I was upgraded on 80% of my flights last year.

Other than being away from home a lot, it's a pretty good gig.
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Old May 4, 18, 7:11 pm
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Hopefully one of the Mods will merge this into one of the many other threads on exactly this topic. If OP is interested, he should read some of those threads and he will see that there are policies which range from paid F on all flights to lowest fare Y on all flights.
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Old May 4, 18, 9:12 pm
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Thanks. I tried to find threads using search but no luck. Help would be nice.
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Old May 6, 18, 7:45 am
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Over the past 15 years I've worked only at small companies-- the largest with just over 300 employees WW. All had written travel policies allowing only coach travel regardless of job title or length of trip. At one of those companies, though, there seemed to be an unwritten rule that SVPs and above could choose business class flights. They'd also book five-star hotels on many trips. That was a company where there was enough of a cult of personality that I presume the people in finance and accounting decided it simply wasn't worth their jobs to tell execs their actions were out of policy.
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Old May 6, 18, 11:07 am
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When I worked at Ernst & Young out of college, I remember a manager at our orientation who was going over the travel policy summed it up as: "You should always be able to do your job. You should never have a personal profit or loss from company travel."

I now work at a company of about 400 employees where many people travel, and we have no formal travel policy. Our CEO asked me to come up with one a couple years ago, so I wrote one out (I figured he would edit some things down, like F is OK on flights over 4 hours) but he just said thanks and that was the last I'd heard until one of our VPs mentioned he'd seen it and was impressed.

It really depends on the company and on your seniority. My friend the public company CEO flies paid business (well, he said he was losing his UA Global Services because he's flying on the company jet too much...boo hoo) and stays at the W or Westin most times I think.
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Old May 6, 18, 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by jakemalloy View Post
Hi Fellow FT members - I have a bit of an unusual question: the times that I have been on FT I have been amazed by the number of business travelers who get to fly first class or seem to frequently get to stay at top hotel chains like Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, etc. I have mostly worked at start-ups so I have no experience with the kinds of travel allowances, etc. most companies allow - so I thought I would ask. How about you tell us the type of company and its size (no company names needed) and the general outline of your travel policy for airfare, hotel, and meal allowances? If a bunch of folks post it might make for an interesting comparison.

How about it?
With regards to 5* hotels, the corporate rates can be VERY competitive with 4* as in the Marriott costs almost as much as the Four Seasons despite BAR being way different.
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Old May 6, 18, 9:16 pm
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Very few companies flat out allow for F and luxury travel. Even for execs. Some bigger companies allow it for EVP's and above, but even then there are some restrictions.

For the vast majority of biz travelers and I am sure for most on FT, it is the membership in the rewards programs that get us up front and in the best hotels, not actual company policy.

Speaking for myself, my company requires Economy class for EVERYONE below the VP level. VP's are also restricted to economy under 8 hours of flight. We are restricted to mid size car rentals. We are restricted to 150 per night at hotels in most cities..although some cities have exceptions.

HOWEVER....our corporate rates and preferred partner programs with various airlines, hotels and car rental companies get us special upgrades automatically. For example, while I will always have to buy the mid size rental at National, using my corporate code I actually get "Emerald" status automatically, and therefore when I get to the lot I can take ANY care in the Emerald Aisle, which is usually a full size SUV or intermediate. Basically the same deal with Airlines. AA is our pref. partner, so by booking with them I automatically get AA Advantage ability to pick preferred seating.

But the reality is that even ontop of all that, I have been collecting AA miles (and others) for 20 years and fly ALOT, so when I book using my personal member number, I book basic Y and usually end up in F via automatic UGs or in some cases buy ups. Same for cars and hotels. Most of us travel so much we earn super deluxe platinum preferred status pretty quickly.

So, in short, our companies generally don't allow us to book high end travel, but we travel so much we earned it from the hotels, airlines and car companies. This is why most people you see in F didn't actually pay more than everyone you see in Y.
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Old May 6, 18, 9:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Proudelitist View Post
... our companies generally don't allow us to book high end travel, but we travel so much we earned it from the hotels, airlines and car companies. This is why most people you see in F didn't actually pay more than everyone you see in Y.
I’d say “many” rather than “most” but in general I would agree with this
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Old May 6, 18, 10:55 pm
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Originally Posted by jakemalloy View Post
Thanks. I tried to find threads using search but no luck. Help would be nice.
In this forum look for threads with 'policy', 'expenses' in the thread title. You will have at least dozen threads and some of them have dozens of pages of replies in them.
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Old May 10, 18, 7:34 am
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I move organisations fairly regularly but most have had very similar travel policies - most companies have been multinational in nature with substantial workforces and in the financial services space.

Travel, other than budget airlines, must be booked through booking agent. Regional travel (North America, Europe etc) or under 6 hours must be in economy or budget airline on a non-flexible fair. Intercontinental flights/over 6 hours can be in Premium Economy or Business depending on employee grade.

Hotels are typicaly a pre-approved list with the requirement to select the cheapest available. If the list is unavailable then there is a destination limit for non-listed hotels which typically isnt very generous. For preferred list hotels then breakfast/dinner inc 2 alcoholic drinks (dinner only) is normally covered whereas if you are eating/staying elsewhere then a daily limit normally applies unless entertaining clients.

Most companies I've worked for have been fairly reasonable and appropriate managers have had discretion to change things - 14 hour flight and going straight into the office for a 8 hour workshop? You can fly Business despite the policy saying it should be PE. Flying the day before and so straight to the hotel, then its PE.

The only company that I had that was different was a USA based company...

N.American employees - business class on all flights, free choice of hotels from the list
W.Europe and ANZ employees - business class over 6 hours and lowest price hotel from the list
Rest of World employees - economy flight irrespective of distance and lowest price of a very different list of hotels/hostels

In a trip to Dublin our US colleagues who were in the UK already stayed at the Conrad at ~£300/night, us UK people stayed at the Doubletree at ~£200/night and the Filipino delegate was staying in a ~£45/night B&B and she had to share the room with someone she'd never met before (another employee visiting for another reason). We did suggest that we all booked the Doubletree but were told that under no circumstances, even if we were paying, could the Filipino colleague stay anywhere other than the B&B
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Old May 12, 18, 2:38 am
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Current organisation: international travel banned (public sector, "no need to have it")
Previous: 1000 staff educational organisation; business if you were executive, decent economy for the rest of us. Bear in mind NZ is a long way from everywhere so cheap flights... nope.

I've done a fair bit of number crunching and actually worked out most of the time it makes more sense to (a) book economy, (b) have extra 'non productive time' i.e. more "holiday days", and (c) just book hotels for that extra time, than book business. The cost saving is likely to exceed the productivity loss from less time due to business (I think most of the time for NZ, the salary had to be $500k NZD or so to make business class make sense - it was actually cheaper to send people on mini-holidays. That's approx $320k USD.)
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Old May 12, 18, 7:08 am
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Any examples of this kind of competitive pricing? I am surprised and think either some of the Marriott properties would be overpriced, or somehow Four Seasons is willing to really discount price.
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Old May 12, 18, 5:47 pm
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YMMV....

For example, policy can vary widely based on division even in the same company. My previous company would go thru waves of penny pinching and liberal policy. Currently they allow business class for long transpacific and atlantic for any employee offically, but in some divisions everyone including VP travels economy as they are cheap. The spend like drunken sailors for the most part now, but that will change shortly, LOL

My current company a huge portion of us travel and everyone including CEO even with almost 5M miles does economy.

My son just joined a fruit company and one week in he flew business and will fly business for probably 10-20 times a year depending on how many issues he needs to address. I'm a bit envious as he hasn't even made his mid 20's.

Then when you come to food/hotels/entertainment that can be just a crazy variable too and I'm not even exposed to the deal / rainmakers. A friend of mine at a previous company talked about how on a business trip to Vegas they rented exotic cars for their clients, and I can only imagine what else later, LOL
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Old May 12, 18, 6:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Astaroth View Post
Most companies I've worked for have been fairly reasonable and appropriate managers have had discretion to change things - 14 hour flight and going straight into the office for a 8 hour workshop? You can fly Business despite the policy saying it should be PE. Flying the day before and so straight to the hotel, then its PE.
Going to bet if you did a simple linear equation here, it would be cheaper to fly that person out 2 days early on economy, put them up in a hotel, and have them fully rested for that workshop - even accounting for the 2 days of productivity lost. And who wouldn't rather have 2 days sightseeing/recharging?
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