Travel agencies

UK Corp travel agencies are trying to make sense of post-Brexit business

Travel management companies in the UK report trying to give customers as much information as possible over the past few weeks as Brexit negotiations drag on.

The UK left the European Union on January 31 this year, with the Brexit transition period officially expiring on December 31, and question marks remain over work permits, visas and taxes.

FCM Travel is supporting the UK Government’s Check, Change, Go campaign and advising customers of the different possible scenarios, particularly if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

“Throughout the Brexit transition period, our consultants and account managers have continued to communicate and advise our clients on potential changes that will impact business travel. However, there has been a lot of uncertainty and still is as we approach the December 31 deadline,” said Alison Zacher, Head of European Account Management at FCM.

“We’ve had a Brexit readiness team in place for years,” a spokesperson for American Express Global Business Travel said. “We regularly talk to our clients about Brexit. We have been providing information and advice for a long time. Of course, there have been quite a few questions lately, but our advice has remained consistent.

Total recall

There’s a lot at stake, and for an idea of ​​some of the issues take the Business Travel Association’s Brexit briefing held last week with law firm Travlaw. It covered the tax; visas and border issues; intellectual property; marks and brands; employment and labor requirements; currency issues; European health insurance; driver’s license; Data; and GDPR.

A talent mobility platform is even urging companies to recall all staff currently working in EU member countries.

“Be sure to remind your employees who may have gone overseas for work in 2020, because you need to start 2021 with a clean slate,” said Steve Black, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Topia.

The talent mobility platform is also urging clients to set policies for new relocation and remote work requests — not just line manager approval, but tax, immigration and compliance must be involved.

“Be prepared for a tight UK talent market after Brexit. It will be tighter without easy access to EU talent and many people who were considering moving to the UK in 2020 may have been prevented from doing so by the pandemic Black added.

The year of the tax audit

Many European countries will feel the pain of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, especially those that have loaned billions of dollars to common carriers. They will be looking to claw back as much money as possible, and taxing British workers would be an easy win.

“Governments will crack down on employees coming and going from the UK,” Topia’s Black said. “There will be a microscope on highly regulated industries such as financial services as jobs may have moved to mainland Europe but the family remained in London. This raises significant risks as to where exactly the work is carried out – 2021 will be the year of the audit.

“We will see governments pay particular attention to organizations that are not complying with taxation and regulations in their jurisdiction…they will become stricter in trying to make up for huge budget shortfalls next year.”

With the growing trend of working from anywhere, organizations will rely on their travel agencies to stay on top of remote work and travel risks created by their employees to ensure they comply all compliance standards.

Corporate travel agency Reed & Mackay has worked with tax specialist Deloitte on webinars and reference guides, and created an online Brexit Hub exclusively for clients. “It may be minor compared to the pandemic, but it’s a high priority for our customers right now,” a spokesperson said.

The agency sees challenges in tracking the combined leisure and business days spent in the Schengen area, alongside the “what constitutes work” query that determines visa requirements.

“There has also been a great deal of uncertainty about the impact of Brexit on the ability of businesses located outside the UK to reclaim VAT incurred in the UK, on ​​hotel stays, for example, and for UK businesses to do the same for travel to EU countries,” said Robbie Falkenthal, tax director of TravelPerk.

“With the impact that Brexit will have on companies’ VAT recovery times on these trips, we are working with our customers to ensure they can continue to benefit from the savings we offer through our VAT solution. recently launched, which can be increased to 20% on their annual travel expenses.”

An even more difficult year

Meanwhile, the fallout from the pandemic is likely to make the business environment difficult for UK businesses in 2021, and the World Travel & Tourism Council is warning that travel and tourism businesses in the UK will be at risk if the Prime minister fails to reach an agreement.

Before the pandemic, the council warned 300,000 UK travel and tourism jobs, and 400,000 across the country, that the EU could be at risk if the UK left without a deal.

“With a no-deal Brexit, market access and the ability for business travelers and holidaymakers to move freely between the UK and EU could be lost, creating complexity, cost and confusing, and hindering smooth travel,” he said. “Businesses are already facing enormous economic uncertainty, and we want to avoid any further loss of confidence or disruption that a no-deal Brexit could cause.”

One of the UK’s biggest hotel companies is set to suffer already next year after the UK exit, according to a rating agency. On Friday, Fitch downgraded Whitbread, owner of the Premier Inn hotel brand, saying it expected “pandemic and Brexit-related disruptions to add to the UK’s already weak operating environment.” United, which is characterized by volatile demand, weak business travel and inflationary cost pressures.”

Businesses need to prepare and an agency boss wants the government to clarify how business travel will change.

“The government must take action to ensure a smooth restart of business travel or we risk falling behind our European counterparts,” said Maria Baty, managing director of Altour UK. “Allowing business travel across all sectors will be a key driver of the economy and the UK government should engage with stakeholders across our sectors to help develop clear and practical guidance for reopening travel here. the new Year.”

The travel management company has launched a 24/7 health and safety office to support business travelers during the pandemic. He expects that office to move to handling Brexit inquiries over the next few months.