How does the travel industry move forward?

The travel industry is currently facing two existential challenges – Covid-19 and Brexit. It’s hard to imagine how these events are going to pan out next year and how the travel industry’s recovery from the pandemic will look. This is something that our director, Martin Alcock, explored when he spoke to members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators earlier today.

Martin looked at the impact of the vaccine and highlighted that although it is very important, it doesn’t do that much for the practicalities of travelling in the short-term. He also discussed why we believe it’s vital that the industry continues to push for a coordinated testing approach. Martin also discussed some of the major questions facing travel companies going into 2021, including:

– How is the uncertainty going to affect the January peaks?

– What impact will fewer business travellers have on the unit economics of airfares, and therefore the price of leisure tickets?

– Although Covid has accelerated the rate of channel shift from offline to online across retail spending, will travel buck the trend?

Here’s the full presentation:

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign-up to our newsletter? Get our latest blog posts, industry updates and exclusive content. Join the mailing list here.

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly evolving and the Government's response and the details of support on offer are continuously changing. We'll be updating our posts regularly to ensure our analysis and advice remains as accurate and useful as possible. To receive the very latest information as we release it follow us on LinkedIn.  If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch. 

What happens to TOMS VAT post-Brexit?

As we edge closer to the end of the Brexit transition period, HMRC has confirmed the changes to TOMS VAT which will come into effect on 1 January 2021. As far as we’re aware, these will apply in a deal or no-deal scenario.

In this video, our director Adam Pennyfather explores some of the changes and highlights some things to think about ahead of 2021. He also gives an example calculation to help illustrate the changes. 

Free resource: if you would like a copy of the calculation, to input your own figures, you can download it in an Excel format here.  We hope it’s helpful.

If you have any questions on the TOMS changes, please get in touch. 

We recently posted about the other areas of your business that Brexit may impact. If you would like to know more you can view the infographic and download a free risk matrix here. 

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign-up to our newsletter? Get our latest travel blog posts, industry updates and exclusive content. Join the mailing list here.

Guidance on Brexit is continually being updated as we progress through the transition period. We'll be updating our posts regularly to ensure our analysis and advice remains as accurate and useful as possible. To receive the very latest information as we release it follow us on LinkedIn. If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch. 

Brexit: focus areas for travel businesses

Now that the end of the Brexit transition period is less than a month away, it is more important than ever that travel companies understand how this might impact them. From 1 January 2021, there will be new rules in place, many of which will affect the travel industry. Below are 11 key areas that you should consider when getting your business ready for these changes.

We have also created a Brexit risk matrix to help you capture and document the key risks and considerations for your business. Download your free template here.

Recently, we discussed the above areas during a webinar hosted by our partner The Travel Vault. The recording is available here.

If you need any help understanding how these changes might impact you, please get in touch. 

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign-up to our newsletter? Get our latest travel blog posts, industry updates and exclusive content. Join the mailing list here.

Guidance on Brexit is continually being updated as we progress through the transition period. We'll be updating our posts regularly to ensure our analysis and advice remains as accurate and useful as possible. To receive the very latest information as we release it follow us on LinkedIn. If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch. 

Brexit: six areas of your travel business that are likely to be impacted

Update: We have recently updated our Brexit guidance as further details have been announced. You can read our new blog post here.

It may have been pushed to the back of our minds by a worldwide pandemic, but sadly, Brexit and its many related challenges have not gone away.

The UK officially left the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, entering a transition period which is scheduled to last until 31 December 2020. Both sides are currently in the process of negotiating a new trading relationship.

Whatever the outcome of the next few months’ negotiations, there will be challenges for the travel industry, and your business may have to adapt. Here are six key areas that are likely to be impacted: 

1 – Employees

Worker’s rights will feature heavily in any trade deal, and if you employ EU nationals in the UK, or you post UK workers to EU countries, new rules are likely to affect you. 

We understand many EU member states have put processes in place to allow UK citizens to continue to work if no trade deal is agreed. However, there may be restrictions on the length of time workers would be allowed to stay in an EU country. 

Furthermore, any new agreements for workers’ rights are only likely to apply to those living and working in the country before Brexit, which may present issues for seasonal workers. 

Similarly, the recent UK Immigration Bill introduces a series of restrictions on companies rights to employ non-UK workers. In particular, the salary threshold of £25,600 is likely to capture a higher proportion of roles in the travel sector compared to many others and could lead to a shortage of suitable candidates. 

2 – VAT

The Tour Operator Margin Scheme (TOMS) is an EU-wide simplification measure that means EU tour operators don’t have to register for VAT in every member state in which they operate. 

We understand that any trade deal would likely preserve the current system. However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, HMRC has proposed to change the rules, making travel services to all destinations outside the UK (including the EU) zero-rated. The good news is that only the margin on UK travel services will be subject to VAT, which could result in significant savings for many outbound tour operators. 

However, EU member states will likely require UK operators to separately register for VAT in each territory in which they operate, which would present a significant administrative burden for many travel companies.

 3 – Key information 

Under the Package Travel Regulations, package organisers must provide accurate information to customers on various matters including passports, visa requirements, healthcare support. 

Passengers travelling after 1 January 2021 are likely to need at least six months remaining on their passport.

We understand UK travellers will still be allowed to visit EU countries for up to 90 days without a visa, but only if the UK continues to grant reciprocal rights to EU citizens visiting the UK. 

Though unrelated to Brexit, from 2022 all visitors to the EU will need to complete an application through the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and pay a fee before entering the Schengen Area. This will even include citizens of countries with a visa-free travel agreement in place. 

It is still unclear what arrangements will be in place for UK nationals should they need access to health care when in an EU country. If the EHIC card is no longer valid when we leave the EU, you will need to make sure you direct your customers to the correct advice.  

You must ensure that you have systems in place to monitor any changes to these information requirements, and to inform your customers where necessary. 

4 – Flights 

In a post-Brexit world, airlines may need to ask for permission to fly into EU air space, and airlines based in the EU will have to do the same when flying into the UK. This could present challenges if permission isn’t granted on time. 

The current transition arrangements allow flights between the UK and the EU to continue as they were. What happens beyond 31 December 2020 is still being negotiated. 

5 – Regulation and licensing

Under the current European regulatory framework for selling package holidays, companies who are established and compliant with the rules of one EU member state can sell holidays in every other EU member state.  

Non-EU companies must comply with the rules in each and every member state in which they sell holidays. 

Once the UK falls outside of these rules, many companies are likely to require a change to their current licensing arrangements following the end of the transition period. For example: 

    • EU established firms wishing to sell flight-inclusive holidays in the UK from 1 January 2021 are likely to need to hold their own ATOL.
    • UK established firms wishing to sell holidays in the EU will need to either create a new subsidiary place of establishment in an EU member state or register with the financial protection scheme of each member state in which they operate.   

 

In addition, if you use insurance bonds to meet your financial protection obligations, then you should also check with your insurer or insurance broker that they can continue to issue valid bonds following the end of the transition period. 

6 – Foreign currency

The Pound Sterling has been on a volatile rollercoaster ride ever since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016. Its value has fluctuated dramatically with each twist and turn of the withdrawal process, and it remains impossible to predict.

As the trade negotiations proceed, we expect this pattern to continue. Travel companies must have a robust strategy in place for managing their foreign currency risk. 

There are still many unanswerable questions at this stage. Through the continuing negotiations, we’ll be providing updates, analysis and insight on our website and through our social media channels. If you need support in the meantime, please get in touch.

If you enjoyed this post, why not sign-up to our newsletter? Get our latest blog posts, industry updates and exclusive content. Join the mailing list here.

Guidance on Brexit is continually being updated as we progress through the transition period. We'll be updating our posts regularly to ensure our analysis and advice remains as accurate and useful as possible. To receive the very latest information as we release it follow us on LinkedIn. If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch. 

A bumpy road to recovery for the travel industry post Covid-19

It’s positive to see there are some early signs of recovery for the travel industry after some challenging months due to Covid-19. However, we know it’s not going to be an easy road to bounce back and there’s a bumpy road ahead. We’ve put together some key dates to keep in mind over the next few months, that could impact the recovery.

Key dates for the travel industry

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll love our newsletter. Get our latest blog posts, industry updates and exclusive content. Sign up here.

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly evolving and the Government's response and the details of support on offer are continuously changing. We'll be updating our posts regularly to ensure our analysis and advice remains as accurate and useful as possible. To receive the very latest information as we release it follow us on LinkedIn.  If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch. 

Brexit: a ferry good reason to check your T&Cs

If anyone needs to book a holiday this January, its poor old Chris Grayling.

The Transport Secretary has been no stranger to catastrophe during his time in office but the latest effort plumbed new depths.

Tasked with arranging additional contingency ferry capacity to enable us to import enough food in the event of a no-deal Brexit come March 29th, his department awarded a contract to Seaborne Freight, a firm without any ships. Grayling’s confident insistence that they would nevertheless be fully prepared was somewhat undermined when it was revealed that Seaborne Freight had copied their business Terms and Conditions from a takeaway company.

If you were trying to write the perfect metaphor for our government’s handling of Brexit, you couldn’t do much better than this. It’s another clear example of the lack of any kind of plan. Unless of course, the plan is to ward off a UK famine by ordering a giant Deliveroo from France.

The debacle also highlights a murky practice which we see all too often in the travel sector. The cutting and pasting of T&Cs.

Many travel companies (including some large ones who really should know better!) will happily copy their T&Cs from an unmodified, off the shelf template or from a competitor in order to save a few quid in legal fees.

Needless to say that such thrift is a false economy and can come back to bite with a vengeance. Your T&Cs are your first line of defence against any kind of claim from your customer. They usually need tailoring so that they accurately reflect how your business operates in practice. Heaven forbid you find yourself up in the docks, trying to defend your cancellation policy as industry-standard when your contract actually says “Delivery in 30 minutes or it’s free”.

If that wasn’t a good enough reason, consider that in 2018 an unprecedented number of new regulations came into effect.  We were force-fed an Alphabeti Spaghetti of new acronyms like PTRs, LTAs,  PSD2, and GDPR that were as unappetising and as they were tricky to untangle.

These new rules wrought profound changes to the way many travel businesses operate, affecting how they collect payments, protect customers, process data and charge for cancellations.

If you’re looking for a new year’s resolution, then reviewing your T&Cs would be a good place to start. Coincidentally, my new year’s resolution is to cut down on takeaways. Happy new year!

 

Written by Martin Alcock for TTG Magazine’s 10 January 2019 edition.

TTC advise Clarity Travel Management on their acquisition of Portman

Image result for clarity travel logo png

 

2 November 2016

Clarity Travel Management and Portman, two of the UK’s leading travel management companies (TMCs) have merged to create one business following the acquisition of Portman Travel by the owners of Clarity Travel Management, Mawasem Travel & Tourism. The combined business will be the seventh biggest TMC in the country.

Pat McDonagh, Chief Executive of Clarity: “Portman Travel and Clarity are similar-sized organisations, with combined gross annual sales of over £400m and proven track records – together we have an opportunity to create something that is truly market-leading.

The merger brings together the best talent and experience from both businesses to create a new travel management company with increased buying power, international reach and expertise through a significant shareholding in Radius Travel, a broader base, market-leading technology and best in class service.”

Mark Nevin, Chief Financial Officer of Mawasem Travel & Tourism: “The Travel Trade Consultancy provided us with clear, pragmatic advice to ensure all of the regulatory implications were well thought through, and all necessary clearances were achieved on time.”

Martin Alcock Director of the Travel Trade Consultancy: “It was a pleasure to work closely with Mark and his team to help execute the transaction.

This deal is further evidence of the trend towards consolidation in the business travel sector as TMCs look to achieve scale and synergy benefits in a very competitive market place.