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How do our corporate travel policies compare?

How do our corporate travel policies compare?

Old Aug 5, 99, 8:44 am
Original Member
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posts: 48
Most people are "supposed" to use a company travel agency... but how many of us choose to book online to get the extra miles and points!
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Old Aug 5, 99, 9:13 am
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Join Date: Jul 1999
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At my company we have a corporate travel agent in house. We are supposed to use her for airfare and can use her for car hotel. Used to book my own flights (before corporate tightening) and could always beat her fare. Now I find my fare and give it to her and she books it. Adds an extra step and I lose my web booking bonuses but it keeps corporate off my back
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Old Aug 5, 99, 11:09 am
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: St Paul 02/04...not flying Delta
Posts: 2,324
I still book my AA travel on the web and give the locator number to the travel dept. I get the web bonus and the lower corporate rate. Win - win on that one.

One of the many odd things I find about our policy is that they will not reimburse me for the use of a gym while on the road, about $10. But they will reimbuse beef, booze and buttercream desserts. I still elect to work out and eat a healthy dinner. My only incentive is that I will live long enough to collect on my 401k.

Also, no reimbursement for in room movies. But some of my co-workers have gone to dinner at a 'club' with 'entertainment' if you catch my drift. That was reimbursed.
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Old Aug 5, 99, 12:44 pm
Join Date: Mar 1999
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For someone who has worked in the travel business in both North America and Asia, I can tell you that the latter is totally different in terms of corporate travel policies.

In North America, most airfares are published and therefore, the travel agents can only base it on cost savings compared to full fare economy. But in Asia, as most of the fares available are 'special' there isn't much to compare with. Unless there are some people out there who still purchase a full fare ticket ex-HK or ex-SIN and think that its a steal....dream on.

The travel industry in Asia is basically a joke. Riffed with unprofessionalism, favouritism and just plain ignorance and incompetence, it is a dog-eat-dog world. Service is at the bottom of the barrel and agents' knowledge is down there too.

Companies in Asia who claim to have corporate travel policies have instead, probably a deal with the travel agent. See who'll get the travel perks at the end of the year. If it isn't you, then someone else must be lunching and working out deals with your travel agent.

[This message has been edited by Celestar340 (edited 08-05-1999).]
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Old Aug 5, 99, 1:25 pm
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: DEN, UA PE, Hilton Gold, ** Reactivate Delete Feature**
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Our travel policy is neither draconian nor lenient.

Tickets must be coach unless the flight is over six hours and goes outside of N. America. The company will pay for updates that leave after 9PM and we are doing business the next day or for flights between our MA office and either our CO or CA offices. [Note: my flights are almost all DEN-BOS ]

All airfare must be booked by corporate travel and paid for by the corporation. The only exceptions are emergencies such as being stranded somewhere and you can't reach corporate travel. Our official airline is UA.

Hotels must in general be on the preferred hotel list. The major exceptions are destinations w/o a preferred hotel or conferences at hotels not on the list.

Car rental is Avis w/ intermediate size. Full size for four or more.

All expenses are receipt and reimburse except for the airfare mentioned above. We each get issued corp Amex cards and travellers checks so we don't need to run up personal credit cards. [Of course: I put the travel expenses on the card that benefits me most. The reimbursements checks usually come soon enough that I can use them to cover the bill.]

[This message has been edited by QuantumLeap (edited 08-05-1999).]
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Old Aug 5, 99, 11:21 pm
Join Date: Jan 1999
Posts: 1,017
I think the problem for a lot of us doing global business is that the travel policy is set using a US frame of reference. e.g. We are supposed to rent cars from Hertz (perk - we all get complimentary gold cards). But while the rate is significantly cheaper in the US we are paying rack rate in other countries.

The other area that is a problem is upgrades. Our standard is travel must be booked in coach for flights less than 7 hours - but if you fly more than 50K miles a year on business the company will reimburse cost of upgrade stickers. Outside the US sticker upgrades are virtually non existant (i.e. try getting an upgrade on a BA or QF international flight).

We also work on the per diem basis. I think our rates are reasonable in most cases. Tokyo is a joke at US$80, Sydney is overblown at US$92. Supposedly these are based on guidelines from the IRS. For short trips I usually come out ahead. Any longer than 5 days and I'm digging into my own pocket (wait for the sticker shock when you do laundry and dry cleaning at a hotel in Tokyo or London).

I did have an interesting situation where some my staff would do a one day trip to a close city (e.g. SIN - KUL or SYD - MEL) and claim the per diem. Travel policy did not say anything about it being overnight. These guys were making a nice little amount on the side. Needles to say, heartless general manager that I am, I put a stop to that by having the policy amended and reimburse with receipts cost of meals (within reason!).
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Old Aug 6, 99, 12:24 am
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Join Date: May 1999
Location: San Francisco UA1K; AA Gold
Posts: 937
Corporate policy is important, but the attitude of whoever approves my account was more important.

For example, "policy" said we could stay over a Saturday and company would pay for hotel/food if the air savings was enough. But when I cleared it with my boss, she gave me such a dirty look ("you're getting a free weekend in XYZ out of this") that next time (SFO-IAD roundtrip) I booked to come home Friday even though it cost way more.

My favorite, though, was another consultant whose arrangement was that she'd stay at really cheap places (often the Y - she liked to swim) and her boss wouldn't question a restaurant bill! Seems to me everybody came out ahead on that one!!
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Old Aug 6, 99, 9:20 am
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: SDF via MCO DFW, FSD, BDS, DSM, ORD, OMA
Posts: 612
3 companies over the last 5-6 years:

Company 1:
Coach class only and full-fare tickets were not allowed without SVP approval. The company did a lot of international travel, and coach was no picnic OMA-SYD. They eventually upped the per diems, but while I was there it was either $36 per day for 'high dollar' cities (e.g., SFO, LON) or $24 per day for lower priced cities (e.g., MCO, DSM). One benefit was the company would reimburse the 14 day advance fare if you used FF miles for tickets. Weekend stays were allowed if the difference in fare would cover the additional lodging and meal costs.

Company 2:

CONUS- only coach. Overseas could be booked in business class. However, you could book a Y fare and 'split the difference' up to $1000 with the company. Not too bad of a deal for going across the pond. Per diems were pretty fair (e.g., $108 LON; $108 HKG; $92 SYD). No per diems for US travel. Receipts not required for anything under $25.

Company 3:

Coach only for US flights. Business class for international flights. Can only fly BA for international if BA 'goes there'. Thus, to fly MCO-SYD requires going via LGW and a train ride to LHR. No per diems.

All 3 companies have 'in house' travel agents that must book all flights. Too bad, because if I could use my own card for flights I'd get the Amex Platinum and would definitely get my $300 back with the companion biz class tickets.

Hotels are pretty much at our discretion. Whatever/wherever is closest to the meeting or customer we are going to see.


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Old Aug 7, 99, 12:01 pm
Join Date: May 1998
Location: Seattle
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I'm confused.

I was under the impression that true "per diem" rates, as in "you don't need to account for this money and you can keep what you don't spend" were set by the Federal Government (by city) and that the partial day rates and times were fixed by the government as well. The other choice (where corporations have some flexibility) is to get reimbursed for actual expenses and that (by law) "requires" receipts for all expeditures, including taxis.

I personally put everything I can on a credit card and get reimbursed for out-of-pocket cash expenditures. I have never selected the per diem option, but I know some of my employees do select a per diem check and sometimes come out money ahead--especially when they travel to visit vendors who pay for all their meals.

With regard to air and hotels, our company purchases all tickets on the company card but mine and our employees are encourage to list their preferences of airlines. Unless there is a big difference in fare, they get their 1st choice. (I purchase my own ticket on-line to get the bonus miles. It's my money and RHIP.) All tickets are coach, but it is ok to ask the boss for upgrade certificates and she is pretty generous.

Hotels are almost always Marriott properties unless somebody has a serious desire and good reason to stay someplace else, i.e. free local phone calls, across the street from show, etc.

Does anybody get paid for travel time?
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Old Aug 7, 99, 6:25 pm
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: SDF via MCO DFW, FSD, BDS, DSM, ORD, OMA
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The IRS has 'cracked down' on some companies for providing per diems in the US. IRS, of course, would like to tax per diem rates as income since they don't get any proof that the money was actually spent. Per diems for international travel are somewhat easier for companies to justify.

What makes the lack of a per diem a bit of a pain is when travelling to some countries where credit cards are not readily accepted. In a per diem situation, one can request an advance of the per diem based upon the expected length of the trip. Employees are thus spared the 'pain' of having to loan their company money.

Several years ago, when I was a 'non-exempt' employee, I successfully talked my boss into paying me for travel time. That happened for a grand total of 2 trips before it was decided that it would be cheaper to promote me to an exempt position!


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Old Aug 7, 99, 10:14 pm
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: BWI, MD
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Get a load of this,
When I worked for a major European Auto (up until '94) company our per diem was $33 a day regardless of whether we ate or not and no need for receipts unless we were entertaining. These were to be reduced by arrival/departure time and reduced (theoretically) for airline meals. We were provided a company car as our job classification called for 50% or more travel. Gas was paid for. Hertz or National were our rental choices. We were able to provide our own routing for tickets but had to go through corporate travel, hotels within reason for the market ($75-$150) plus we could keep miles and points.

When our unit was sold to a competitor, we now deal with .31 cents a mile for personal travel, with no company car or car allowance although our travel is 90% or higher. $28 a day per diem across the country and only if we spend it, do we get it back! Receipts for everything to be taped to 8 1/2 by 11 pages. Lowest fare on a corporate approved airline (CO 35%, UA 25%, DL 20% corporate discounts) (Comped to CO Silver and never have flown CO) takes the trip with our regional supervisor being able to trump any travel reservations to a lower rate or routing. Lowest corporate approved hotel takes the stay. Still with Hertz or National. Luckily we get to keep miles & points.

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Old Aug 8, 99, 2:55 am
bryan at webflyer
Posts: n/a
Has anyone read "Seduced By a Mile?" Please advise before I say more.
Old Aug 8, 99, 6:57 am
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: St Paul 02/04...not flying Delta
Posts: 2,324
Bryan, you must live and breath FT. I see the OMNI was well earned. (But 1:30 am on a Saturday night....come on now, go have some fun off the computer.) But back on subject, No, I have not read it.
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Old Aug 8, 99, 8:51 am
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Just finished working for a major US research institution, so can comment on policy for sponsored research (Federal grants and the like):

1. Cheapest available US-flag coach airfare, regardless of scheduling (eg stay over Saturday night unless good reason why not or entirely illogical for schedule); even grant agencies said full-fare coach was unreasonably high for BUDGETING (let alone actual expenses!)
2. Least expensive hotel option, in US University-negotiated rates but on-your-own abroad (e.g. Moscow, with no mid-priced hotels, meant finding a babushka who would rent a room and breakfast @$50/night, or else a Soviet hotel replete with prostitutes for $80/night, to avoid the $250/night of Western chains). Nominal maximum based on US State Dept per diem, but always tried to better.
3. Public transport if convenient, otherwise cab/car/etc.
4. Meals cheap, within reason (i.e. no one MADE you go to McDonalds')
5. Reservations to be made through designated travel agent with nominal discounts, but poor service (i.e. impossible to reach, incompetent) meant better fares available through independent agent.

Of course, the preceding only applied to most people. The very top end flew Biz-class and often upgraded to 1st (Biz was nominally permitted for overseas), stayed in Western-name hotels, and spent whatever on food, transport, etc.

Note that official policy was not as strict as described above--but grant restrictions made it so, especially when combined with the need to camouflage those Biz-class airfares and hotels within the same grant!

At least now I'm under a different policy (C-class ticket in my bag for this week). But there is something nostalgic to be said with conversing with a babushka about Russian politics over breakfast in her Soviet-built apartment, or having the hotel floor attendant spy on one's whereabouts...builds character!

[This message has been edited by chalf (edited 08-08-1999).]
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Old Aug 8, 99, 12:18 pm
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: SEA
Posts: 3,178
No Bryan, haven't read it...but you've sure got me curious now.
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