Managing (Travel) Policy
I have spent a few years, now, as a District Councillor. One of my main tasks is sitting on the Planning Committee, studying those planning applications which require a balancing view. This experience does lead one to think very carefully about policies - in planning, there is a constant need to update policies in order to try and steer the development of the District to try and match the needs of all our areas demographics.
The lesson one learns, is that the more policies and rules which are put in place - the more time is spent by people trying to find a way to circumvent those policies. Sometimes, one thinks that one needs only one policy: "The Council will consider anything".
Likewise, in business travel, perhaps the best policy to have, would be one that simply reads: "Be sensible".
The clear need, when it comes to travel, is for people to have a responsible attitude and to trust staff not to book anything unless that travel has a meaningful (and quantifiable) benefit to the firm as a whole. This needs, of course, a cultural change. The main issue being the "Well, we have always done it this way" type culture - the same as people saying "No point saying anything, nothing will change". Travel policy formulation becomes the premise of the management with budgetary responsibility or relies on the decisions of a corporate travel manager, whose application of policy is based on his or her personal learning and/ or experience rather than embracing the actual needs of those that are doing the travelling and, above all, influencing the general culture.
I have seen many travel request and approval forms in my time. One wishes one could have a pound for every time the form simply stated "Customer visits". How much revenue have those "customer visits" generated in terms of actual revenue, one wonders. Why do firms ask for a reason for any travel event and blithely accept "customer visits" as being the reason, without any attempt to quantify what those visits achieved?
The need to have a travel policy is almost an admission of failure. If the culture of any firm was such that any travel event would only be undertaken if there was a need which offered a quantifiable result; if staff are responsible enough to look upon any travel spend and question it as if it were their own money, then there is a much lesser need for any expansive travel policy. Perhaps there is no need for any travel policy at all.
But of course ... "We have always done it this way...."