3 Questions Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2008

Ashish Mistry serves as the Atlanta CEO Council president and polls the group’s 1,500-plus members to keep tabs of concerns and trends. He recently conducted a survey to better understand how area businesses are handling the impact of a floundering economy.

Q. What concerns do CEOs have regarding employees’ business travel?

Cost is at the front of everyone’s minds. A business wants to make sure travel is purposeful to the company. Having an in-house travel manager works best in order to keep proper organization of all traveling employees’ spending — and that they are following policy. The travel manager is in charge of enforcing the policy. This manager also communicates with the travel agency or other vendors related to travel. Having one person be the go-to allows better adherence to policy and the business’s interests.

Q. What level of compliance can a company expect from traveling employees in regard to cost-saving methods?

Employees should be flexible with their time. When dealing with travel — especially now, everyone needs to be a team player to make it work and be cost-effective. If saving $300 means taking a 7 p.m. flight instead of an 8:30 a.m. flight Monday, an employee should be willing to compromise. On the other hand, an employee shouldn’t be expected to have two layovers for a two-hour flight if it means a significant time difference. Since airlines are charging for things like the amount of luggage coming aboard, the travel policy can limit the number of bags the employee can take that they’ll pay for, and unless the employee is willing to pay the fee, the company can expect the employee to adhere to policy.

Q. If a company were to adjust one aspect of its travel policy, what would be the most important?

Having one reliable vendor to meet all of your hotel needs, one for air travel and one for car will maximize purchasing power and will be based on use. A company may mistakenly look online for the best rates each time an employee travels, but that will not get you the best rates long term. Making arrangements with vendors ahead of time will allow for rate negotiations that will save your company money with every employee, on every trip.