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How do our corporate travel policies compare?

How do our corporate travel policies compare?

Old Aug 4, 99, 9:45 am
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Location: Hong Kong soon to be London
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How do our corporate travel policies compare?

I understand the need for cost control and as a shareholder agree that it is important. Nonetheless, some of my company's policies seem designed to inflict the maximum amount of stress and hardship while others are reasonable. I would be interested to hear how my fellow frequent flyers corporate policies compare (where applicable; I know many of you pay out of your own pocket). I don't know whether FlyerTalkers will want to discuss this subject or not, but as I travel about 180 days a year it is a subject near and dear to my heart.

A few examples:

* we fly coach for trips up to five hours; biz class otherwise.

* we are on a per diem; this would be reasonable enough if the per diem were high enough, but it is ludicrous. If I arrive at a hotel and have a salad and a wine from room service I have essentially exhausted my per diem. For example, the per diem in Tokyo is US$50. Ha!

* If I have a flight that includes and of the hours 7-10 AM, 11 - 2 pm, or 5-10 pm my per diem is reduced by 1/3 because I was able to eat on the plane (see above re: flying in steerage). [this is the one that really steams me up]

* I have to stay in "approved" hotels even if I can find a less expensive alternative. As an example, in Singapore the Conrad is walking distance to the office, but I have to stay in the Mandarin even though it is more expensive AND I have to take a cab.

Any thoughts?

Hong Kong Flyer
Soon to be London Flyer

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Old Aug 4, 99, 10:28 am
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Yes many corporate policies are stupid. Moreover there can be creative ways to bypass them.

Sometimes you have to use approved travel agents and hotels, and it appears that you are paying more, but because of hidden kickbacks it is not the case.

If only there was a way to codify common sense in travel policies.
Old Aug 4, 99, 11:24 am
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Hong Kong Flyer

Try this for a company policy:
  • Last year we could upgrade to business class any flight 8 hours or greater, as long as it didn't cost more than 25% of the cost per leg.
  • This year no upgrades are allowed under corporate policy. (they figure that they are being nice enough to allow us to accrue mileage with our carriers, that upgrades using miles are up to us.)
  • Our corporate travel agent looks for any low-cost fare available (circumvented this by taking our travel agent to lunch, in exchange she books my itinerary with airline of choice.)
  • Hotels are supposedly booked through the travel agent (again the lunch date worked),I book mine through the web for bonuses.
That is just scrapping the surface of the travel policy, but so far if I can't bribe and or work around it I just have to grin and bear it.

Cheers Scott
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Old Aug 4, 99, 1:47 pm
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Our corporate policy regarding travel is "in transition" right now as we have changed corporate travel agencies. However, I have not been told that I'm required to use them (thank goodness) and don't ever plan on using them. I book all my own hotels and flights and no one has noticed/cares. So while there are lots of policies, I make my own rules. As long as my expense reports come back reasonable, they are approved. As long as this keeps happening, I'm not going to change my ways.
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Old Aug 4, 99, 2:48 pm
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HKF- $50. in Tokyo gets you some good noodles! Maybe splurge on a diet coke! Corporate Travel Policy? I'd thought only academicians and government workers got those kinds of silly per diem rates! Sounds like I was wrong!
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Old Aug 4, 99, 4:03 pm
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Few highlights from my current company:

* All airfare is to be booked through the company designated travel agent (which charges a $10 "ticketing fee"!).
* All airfare must be charged to either the company American Express or Diners Club card.
* Employees may fly Business Class for scheduled flights more than three hours in duration.

When I was a contracted at large Boston bank, I got a glimpse of their travel policy, which was more comprehensive. It included items like: if employee used own miles for an award ticket to use on business travel, the employee can be compensated for 50% of the value of that fare and if employee chose to stay with friends/family in lieu of hotels, company will reimburse for meal/gift with/to friend.
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Old Aug 4, 99, 4:32 pm
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I work with Scott the flier and like what kyklin said we can use our ff miles and get reimbursed for %50 of the cheapest coach airfare and we can get some compensation if we stay with friends/family.
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Old Aug 4, 99, 5:07 pm
Join Date: Jan 1999
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Our policy got worse as earnings decreased. Company approved hotels only. Two to a compact car. Coach all the time, all over the world. I have a rather large co-worker that flew to the UK in coach. I would have hated to be in the next seat.
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Old Aug 4, 99, 5:32 pm
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My company has per diems too. I've only travelled within the US under the rules, but the per diem seemed reasonable to get a decent meal, unless you want to wine and dine (in which case I find it reasonable that the traveler shoud pick up the difference).

At a former company, my boss three levels up in the chain used to always travel coach on international trips (he used his miles to upgrade). Its much easier to follow the rules when you know that the big shots are following them too.

Also at that company, travel policies (liberal vs restrictive) were a good indicator of stock valuations.

[This message has been edited by pgupta011 (edited 08-04-1999).]
Old Aug 4, 99, 6:49 pm
Join Date: Jul 1999
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We don't do per diem, but we are reimbursed for meals and entertaining clients. There is supposed to be a cap, but I've gone over it and no one has said a thing. And all y'all C-class for 3 or 4 hour trips are making me jealous! We don't get C-class until we hit something like 9 hours...
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Old Aug 4, 99, 11:54 pm
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We are a small company, so the benefits are not so generous.

$35 per diem. (Ouch!) Not a problem for me - I usually do a bowl of cheerios for breakfast (since most hotels now provide refrigerators, I can spend $5 and get breakfast for a week, plus the continental breakfast as a filler). I usually do a fast food lunch, so $30 for dinner isn't so bad. (Unless I find a batting cage nearby, in which case I'm eating McDonald's and spending the remaining $25 hitting baseballs!)

Mid-week coach fare is the basis. If I want to travel somewhere with a Saturday stay, I can use the difference for tickets for friends or family.

Duration of flight has no bearing on class.

Sometimes Saturday stay is required, in which case I get 2 additional vacation days.

Can use any car rental, airline or hotel chain.

RECOMMENDED stay at any <$100 hotel for onsite.

Can stay at a hotel near the airport (<$200) if I've got an early AM flight.

Bottom line, must stay within budget for the trip. Usually not a problem. With my next trip, I got great airfares, so I'm staying in nicer hotels and renting full-size cars (one trip has a 3 hour drive to the customer's site - and I'd rather be nibbled to death by rats than drive a Geo Metro that long!)

And the unofficial rule, if it is a trip to Arkansas, they send me as penance for my outspoken views of the Purjurer-In-Chief.

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own."

[This message has been edited by Jon Toner (edited 08-04-1999).]
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Old Aug 5, 99, 12:32 am
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All this C/J class is making me jealous, in academe everything is Y. Although we do get 10% off the cheapest NZ fare and it is ticketed as full Y which helps upgrades and points.

But the travel policy I love is the one that many Australian companies have of AN for domestic and QF for international. Gotta love that system for building up elite status!

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Old Aug 5, 99, 12:41 am
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As I am self employeed I get to set my company travel policies

Of course I must balance it with my clients needs, budgets and policies.

One nice thing is I get to choose the hotel and airline. I get a lot of leeway for example, if I do a 2 week stint at a client I have 3 choices for the weekend in between, since its my time.

1) Stay over in their city. Client pays for hotel and meals

2) Fly home for the weekend. Client pays for airfare.

3) Fly somewhere other than home. Clients pays for the airfare, as long as it isnt significantly more than the airfare home.

Number 3 lets me some nice "free" trips, this weekend is San Francisco

As for per diems, I bill the client for actual expenses.

I try to make every attempt to keep client billable expenses low as it help me to keep my services rates high. The lower the expenses, the lower the total cost.

I learned a long time ago that if you keep expenses low, the clients dont impose too many rules.

If I'm working in a city near family or close friends, or one I like to visit, I'll often fly out saturday rather than sunday. This cuts the airfare by getting a saturday night stay. In this case the client pays an extra nights lodging and meals. Almost always reducing the total cost significantly. This makes them happy and I've never had the saturday hotel night and meals questioned.
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Old Aug 5, 99, 6:20 am
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Well here goes travel policy from a major financial firm:

1- You are supposed to use company approved airlines(where we get a discount of about 15%
(UA, DL, US) and book through our company trave agency. I use CO and manage to get much cheaper fares ($1007 EWR-ORD vs $290 EWR-MDW). So no complaints from HQ there.

2- You are supposed to book hotels thru the travel agency getting pre arranged rates. I usually call the 'approved' hotel myself and ask for promotional, AAA, entertainment card or weekend rate and get a better rate. They will pay dry cleaning expenses after 4 days on the road, but will not pay for in room movies. snacks from the mini-bar or 'alcholic beverges'.

3- Our per diem ranges depending upon the city from $50 for SF to $38 Atlanta. I don't have a problem with that since I am a light eater and we get to charge the full amount no matter what we end up spending.

4- Domestic flying (no matter how long) is coach, but for me as a Platinum CO a Y coach fare upgrades me to F automatically. Any overseas flights can be booked in Business

5- If staying with friends/family when traveling a gift can be given (dinner, expenses etc.) as long as reasonable.

6- Entertaining of clients when traveling has no limits --other than reasonable dinner expenses,

All in all I think we have a fairly liberal policy. I get along well with our travel people and they do not give me grief about not using 'prefered carriers'.
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Old Aug 5, 99, 8:02 am
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I have a long running contract with a single client, who bills my time to their client. Policies for full time employees are similar but differences noted.

Air: Coach only, even for international long hauls. (I found this out when I applied for the contract, and because of it, part of my deal is "no overseas travel.") No additional reimbursement except for hotels, meals and car for staying over the weekend. We book our own tickets.

FTEs get some level of reimbursement if they use FF tickets.

Hotel: anything "within reason," which means we get to stay at anything up to a Hyatt or Westin but not the Ritz Carlton. We usually stay at the hotel closest to the client, and it's almost never worse than a Hilton/Marriott/Hyatt.

Car: use corporate supplier (Hertz), rent compact cars. I bend the rules here and get midsize and have never had a complaint.

I always use PC99610 with Hertz (no coupon required) and get upgrades to full size cars almost every time. Anyone can use this PC number, and it's valid until 2/28/2000.

Meals: Try to keep it within $50/day. I will occasionally go over that, and often go under that, and have never had a complaint. We are required to save receipts.

Re: Per diem: I would gladly go on per diem and lose the receipts. They're a nuisance to collect, tote up, and turn in.

All in all, I find their travel policy very reasonable.

I am about to start a venture of my own (part time with the existing contract) and will need to come up with my own travel policy. I will not be billing the client directly for T & E, so the money is coming out of my pocket. So do I opt for a little more luxe or go cheapo and keep the difference? Interesting debate going on in my mind about this. And what policies do I use for the contractors I will hire? So this thread has been of particular interest to me.

What I've learned over the years: being away from home is hard. Taking care of myself on the road with a little pampering pays off in the long run: I'm better rested, better fed, and do better work. I've had this particular road job nearly four years and do not feel an.y strains of road weariness.
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