VAT Recovery has for most of its life, been an involved and paper intensive process. Of course, it is understood we deal with Governments; and they have known to be notoriously bureaucratic. Even today, many of them are steeped in cumbersome paper-work. Fortunately, we are beginning to see a little light, at the end of the tunnel. European nations see the need to cut across the processes of the past, and rapidly move into the 21st century, and the age of modern technology.
Many people may consider Travel Insurance to be an instrument sold by peddlers of doom. That indeed is a matter of personal opinion. Personally, I think Travel Insurance is a necessary part of every trip. It provides the traveller with a certain amount of comfort, and more – especially when things go wrong.
The Contact Centre for corporate travel is the engine around which the whole business revolves. If you don’t have a smoothly operating Contact Centre, you do not have a product. The Unit can be quite a beast when it comes to Technology. The secret of success in a Contact Centre lies with the manager’s skill and ability to harness the entire offering of the various technologies employed, and make them work together, to deliver a best-in-class product.
I thought this time, I’d take a break from Corporate Travel and give an itinerary, instead. Let me take you to my most favourite city in the world: Rome. Where 2700 years of vintage history is blended with the mundane cocktail of everyday life of the 21st Century. Given two weeks, you can hardly do justice to the City; most tourists try to give it five days, before they move on. Of course, you will find tons of information on Rome, in every language of the world; but, let me show you the City, my way – Rome in six days.
The Contact Centre is the heart of the Corporate Travel service to clients. It is the engine; everything else will revolve around it. Without it, there can be no service. Where then, would be the ideal location for your all important Corporate Travel Contact Centre? Many a diehard traditionalist would tell you that it should be located where the head office is. In other words, the Managing Director or CEO, would like it where he is located. Such a notion, I presume, would come from a desire to show off one’s empire to every visitor. Some others would argue for it to be located in their own building, wherever that may be. Their main argument would be that with such an arrangement, they will have no rental costs. My own views on the subject are very different.
Proposed originally by the German industrialist Wilhelm von Siemens in 1918, Value Added Tax or VAT has become an important part of the Tax structure in many countries. France was the first country to introduce VAT in 1954. Today it is for France, the most important source of State Finance and forms almost 50% of the Government’s revenues. Other countries were quick to add VAT to their own Tax structures. Most countries in the world today charge Value Added Tax, as part of their fiscal policy. It is a Tax that even visitors to such countries have to pay. It is unavoidable. It can be as high as 25.50% in some countries. Every hotel stay, or restaurant bill, involves VAT. The Scandinavian countries charge the highest rates. In some countries, different services or goods, attract different rates of VAT that is chargeable. VAT varies from 5% to 25.50%. Fortunately, many companies become eligible for VAT refund on the business travel of their employees.
A Request for Proposal or an RFP, is an integral part of a Multinational Company’s (MNC) process of choosing their Travel Management Company (TMC). Most MNCs will handle their choice through such a process. It may however be noted, from an agent’s point of view, if you are not part of a major international TMC Network, you may never get to see the RFP of such an organisation. They are usually only sent out to the top three in the Business.
It would not be right on my part to label the Request for Proposal process as one that is only applicable to MNCs. If your Corporate Travel and Entertainment (T&E) budget is over US Dollars 10 Million per annum, you could probably handle the choice of your Agency with a RFP. It will help you to review the contenders who want to handle your Corporate Travel business, on an even playing field. To use a hackneyed phrase, “you will be able to compare apples, with apples”. Undoubtedly, the process will facilitate a well researched final choice of your TMC.
Whatever the size of your Travel Account, you as a corporate, have every right to an efficient corporate travel agent. Travel agencies as we well know, come in all shapes and sizes. There are good ones, and bad ones. Really, it is up to you, how you evaluate your travel agent; but if you are looking at the best service for acceptable costs, you’d have to put your travel agent under the microscope.
When I looked at what sort of Travel Blogs are out there on the Net, I came across hundreds. They are mostly Leisure Travel Blogs sharing information on destinations, or how to construct your trip. There are lots of tips. Many dos and don’ts. I have also seen some Business Travel Blogs that cater mainly to the corporations; not too many of those, however.