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Rogue Travellers on Spending Sprees!

Proper training and a little leeway may be the antidote for big spender-itis.

By Pauline Mitchell

Canada’s chief of defence staff, General Walt Natynczyk, has spent $1 million since 2008 travelling on government jets instead of commercial airlines and the critics pounce. He thinks he’s following the rules and has permission—critics think otherwise. The expenses are now under review.

When it comes to the spending of public funds and the use of public facilities, high standards are in place and the Auditor General blows the whistle when excesses are found. In some cases, criminal charges are laid and there are often political consequences.

But what of the private sector: How are the big spenders kept in line?

In Sheri Gammon Dewling’s experience, airlines and accommodations are the most frequent areas for non-compliance. The Toronto-based corporate travel manager, and self-employed industry consultant for her company, JMS Consulting, says, “Sometimes rules are misinterpreted—it’s a hard call because you’re asking your people to travel for the benefit of your business and you don’t want it to be a hardship for them,” she says, adding, “the onus is on management to oversee spending.”

Her tip for companies is to invest in beginning-to-end training to better understand booking and reporting tools. “It’s not enough to know how to navigate your booking tools. Corporate travel managers need to better understand the reporting tools. End-users need more training on interpretation of the reports available to them.”

Gammon Dewling also sees more companies giving their business travellers an advance draw for daily expenses and letting the employee determine how they’ll spend it on meals and ground transportation. “That way companies can decide on a reasonable rate and cap their expense in advance.”

Daryl Silver is president of travel management company Continental Travel Group in Winnipeg. “Our booking tool (Concur) can be agent-driven or self-driven and we can set flags within the program according to specific situations,” says Silver. “If we see that someone self-books flights that are outside the parameters, we can change the flag so that future flights have to be booked by an agent.”

Six Simple Principals
The Travel Directive, developed by the federal government with input from its unions, is used to guide employees and corporate travel managers in “achieving fair, reasonable and modern travel practices across the public service.”

  • Trust
  • Flexibility
  • Respect
  • Valuing people
  • Transparency
  • Modern travel practices

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