Global VAT reclaim

Covid-19 & Indian Business Travel – The future !

This analysis, from a business travel consultant’s standpoint, outlines how Covid19 will impact Indian business travel. 

Covid19 will have a far greater impact on the global economy & travel than 9/11.In the immediate short-term, the impact on business travel is severe. Apart from lockdowns and suspended flights, a new aspect – that of employee willingness to travel will be an added dimension. Post COVID19, employers will need to insulate employees from health risks – either with structured medical protocols, vaccinations, on-road protection, insurance & other mechanisms. 

These aspects – corporate duty of care & aversion of employees to health risks associated with travel, are situations that most Indian travel programs have never recognized. This will demand creativity and new models of operations. 

In the medium term, business travel will get back its importance. This will be driven by economic reasons. It’s expected that most countries will actively plan broad basing their manufacturing rather than keeping everything in China. 

This will be a massive opportunity for emerging markets like India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Further , every time there is a global recession, the Indian economy & consequently business travel has grown substantially – Post 9/11 and then again after the 2008 recession. 

The economic arbitrage that India offers for in knowledge based industries like IT / Tech Outsourcing / BPO should be in high demand. 

Business travel managers, in corporate enterprise will be well served, to use the current downtime to critically evaluate their programs. Despite , India’s growth to being the 7th largest global business travel market, most business travel programs in India subscribe to legacy out-dated processes. 

Inertia & the desire to maintain status quo, are two major bottleneck that are very visible in the Indian business travel buyer community. This is supplemented by industry being unable to articulate the value of technology & innovation – they are still caught up in offering the lowest fees possible & generally perpetuating legacy opaque systems.

As a business travel consultant, ProKonsul has often highlighted the historical absence of CXO attention on business travel optimization in Indian corporations. Post Covid19, it is expected that Indian CXO’s will focus their attention on their 2nd largest controllable expense – Business Travel!

With the incremental pressures on the P&L , they should demand effective cost control with optimization, innovation & accountability from their travel teams. 

Those travel managers & administrators who are unable to deliver increment program efficiency & value, will have a short shelf life ! 

These are some of the most important opportunities that Indian business travel programs have

1.Strategic sourcing 

To be successful, buyers will need to deliver meaningful value to suppliers who offer the best value. This will mean limiting the number of partners, developing a share shift model so preferred partners get more business & driving year on year savings. This will also mean that the current buyer approach of exclusively sourcing the lowest cost vendor will need to be questioned. 

It’s been proven time and again that there is a minimum economic cost, for a service to be delivered. If a vendor claims to magically operate below that threshold or at a significant loss, the only way that can be done, is that the vendor operates unethically. 

This approach to strategic sourcing will need to extend to every aspect of the business travel program – Airline sourcing / Hotels / Business Travel events & MICE and other component of the business travel lifecycle. 

This will be of even greater value to Indian multinationals who have an expanding global footprint but operate without a global business travel program. 

2.Automate/ adopt technology / Optimize travel administration resources 

Much of business travel in emerging markets like India , is heavy on human resources. It’s common to see several internal staff managing, tracking, checking, paying vendors. These are superfluous, in todays world. 

Unfortunately this is equally true of iconic Indian global companies, who are part of the Fortune 500 list. They have given little thought to adopting accepted best practice. Most still have a dis-aggregated program structure with retail buying driving significant corporate exposure

Technology will need to be adopted in every part of business travel 

  • Self-booking technology
  • Event management automation
  • RFP and Sourcing platforms
  • Expense management
  • Payment systems
  • Reporting and analytics 

Travel managers will be challenged to evaluate these solutions and present a business case to their corporate leadership. They will equally need to demand innovation and ideas from their business partners – travelmanagement companies, event managers , airlines & hotels. 

It is time to stop the exclusive & self limiting focus on using the cheapest fare or appointing the lowest cost vendor , as the primary measure of success ! Program value , optimzation and automation can deliver far greater value than just the lowest fee or fare. 

3.Business Travel Audits 

Just as all companies conduct financial and tax audits, ProKonsul believes that business travel audits must become the standard, in all corporate programs. 

As any corporate program ages, and different components are added at different stages, inefficiencies build up. This gets overlooked as the complexity rises and day-to-day firefighting becomes the standard.

ProKonsul is the only business travel consulting firm that offers a proprietary Program &  Process Analytics®  & complete suite of business travel audit solutions to validate invoicing, refunds, credits and commission reporting of the incumbent travel management company / vendor. 

To secure long term value through independent business travel intelligence, companies will engage external business travel consultants like ProKonsul,  who have depth of knowledge & the ability to optimise every element of the business travel lifecycle.

4.Secure immediate savings inherent in your business travel program

Global VAT Reclaim is the single biggest savings opportunity in Business Travel. This concept allows for recovery of the VAT / GST portion of expenses incurred overseas, in designated countries. The potential for savings exceeds 25% of specific expenses incurred . Similarly there are inherent opportunities in Business Travel MICE and Domestic VAT Reclaim. 

Post Covid19, Indian business travel managers will need to actively learn and implement best practice. They will need to present innovation and cost efficiency to their corporate leadership, as a way of maintaining relevancy & counting as an important part of the corporate decision making team.

Want to set up your 30-minute FREE consultation with a ProKonsul business travel expert?

                               Drop us an email  [email protected] or call +91-9873196115.

                                                We would love to work with you! Call us now !! 

 ProKonsul ® optimizes the business travel lifecycle of its clients. It delivers domain expertise in enterprise business travel. Established in 2014, it is the pre-eminent business travel consultant firm in India, Asia & emerging markets. We are located in Gurgaon, India. ProKonsul ®  advisory services are supplier agnostic & governed by a robust integrity policy. 

                                                        2020 © ProKonsul – All Rights Reserved 

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Secure savings in your business travel program- some low hanging fruit’s !!

As a business travel consultant, ProKonsul has seen these simple steps to secure immediate savings in client business travel programs. Use them today in your program!

The single biggest objective that travel managers have today is to drive savings. These savings can be direct hard $$  or indirect soft $$ savings. Listed out some of the top saving strategies implemented by customers of ProKonsul.

1. Global VAT Reclaim 

This is the single biggest saving opportunity inherent in business travel programs across emerging markets like India.

This single category allows for savings of up to 29% on overseas business travel expenses in specific countries. The expense categories permitted for reclaim are specific and include all accommodation expenses food & business entertainment. 

Additional categories include overseas MICE expenses, marketing & consultants fee, amongst others. The most attractive aspect of securing Global VAT Reclaim is that any fees payable in only if you receive an actual refund. The paperwork is simple and business travel consultants like ProKonsul facilitate submission to the individual tax offices of the designated countries.

2. Domestic VAT Reclaim 

Effective handling of domestic reclaims can secure 18% plus savings on domestic hotel expenses. The impact of air ticketing ranges up to 5% on the actual air ticket costs. This aggregates to a substantial annual benefit. While deploying internal finance & accounts resources is effective, it may be more financially prudent to deploy external VAT recovery specialists. External specialists are more conversant with the overall process and prove more efficient from the resource and cost standpoint.

3. Smart buying strategies

Much of the procurement for business travel suppliers in emerging markets like India, is still based on a traditional “ supplier aggregation model”.

This means most business travel programs have an inflated list of preferred hotels & airlines, with whom the travel/ procurement department has contracted a preferred rate. However, there is limited consolidation of spend, which results in fragile relationships that have limited value and almost nil incremental year-on-year benefits.

Smart buying implies having a limited set of truly preferred vendors who get a significant proportion of your business travel reservations.  When this happens & you fulfill your volume or market share commitments,  they would recognize you as a credible committed client with an ability to shift business.

This develops stronger client-vendor collaboration & normally results in incremental year-on-year benefits which have both direct & indirect value.

4. Optimize Travel Administration Resources

It is common to see small and mid-size travel programs in India (travel spend between $1-3 Million)  have a high number of internal staff resources, who administer the program, support internal customer inquiries & keep checks on vendors.

Globally, it is seen that multinational travel programs can be managed through a single internal resource if the technology is deployed intelligently and irrelevant controls are removed.

It is important to conduct regular business travel audits and continuously refine internal processes, so superfluous resources don’t get added. As a guideline, your internal travel admin resource cost should not exceed 1-2% of your overall business travel program spend at the maximum.

5. Domestic car hire

Most emerging markets like India require domestic car rental services with a chauffeur drive facility for airport transfers/ intracity usage. With the advent of Uber, Ola and Grab, app-based car rentals are becoming the standard for airport transfers.

Car hire services through legacy agencies are highly opaque. Many local vendors offer car rentals based on garage-to-garage mileage with incremental fees being paid for exceeding a pre-defined time limit. Such modus operandi results in massive amounts of fraudulent billings.

Many progressive travel programs have shifted to GPS-based billing that is charged only between the time and location of pick up and the time and location of termination of service. Wallet-based payments or direct credit card payment by individual travelers is preferred versus a bill-to-company model. Such steps can reduce your car rental spend by 7 to 9% on an annualized basis.

The recommendations listed above should be actively explored by travel managers. Presented as the business case to your corporate leadership, will allow you to create a stronger more positive impact on your corporate leadership.  

The travel department can actively contribute to reducing overall corporate spending & optimize the process. It is important that travel managers don’t give in to inertia and maintaining the “status quo” but step out of their comfort zones to evaluate new and better ways of managing their travel programs. Active well presented recommendations to the corporate leadership, will result in the travel department being recognized as an important internal business partner & contributor to corporate success.

Want to set up your 30-minute FREE consultation with a ProKonsul business travel expert?

                               Drop us an email  [email protected] or call +91-9873196115.

                                                We would love to work with you! Call us now !! 

 ProKonsul ® optimizes the business travel lifecycle of its clients. It delivers domain expertise in enterprise business travel. Established in 2014, it is the pre-eminent business travel consultant firm in India, Asia & emerging markets. We are located in Gurgaon, India. ProKonsul ®  advisory services are supplier agnostic & governed by a robust integrity policy. 

                                                        2020 © ProKonsul – All Rights Reserved 

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Indian Multinational’s – How to create a global Business Travel program

ProKonsul is a business travel consultant to multiple clients in this segment, in India & emerging markets

There are a significant number of global multinationals that have their origins in India. Tata, Reliance, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Rajesh Exports are just some examples. Most of these companies are in the Fortune 500 listings. 

While these companies are world-class, their global business travel programs are still very nascent. Much of their travel buying in international markets are decentralized with individual offices securing local vendors and purchasing retail.

As a business travel consultant to many companies in this segment, these fast-growing corporate entities have found incremental value by creating an integrated global travel management program. It is expected that given the fast rate of growth, building scale will be the most important aspect of their future corporate strategy.

Listed are the top three success strategies that these organizations can implement;

1. Create a consistent global framework of travel strategy and policy

The first step involves establishing a common global travel strategy & related policies. These will facilitate easy administration and consistent implementation. Rather than give in to variances at an individual market level, the company should strive for a simple yet effective travel policy.

The policy should accommodate different business units and corporate hierarchies that may exist across markets. The approval framework should ideally be common or similar. The key to achieving success globally is to reduce excessive variances based on individual market operations. This is however likely to be difficult. It is advisable to create standard operating templates and allow individual countries to select from one of the templates defined centrally.

Recognizing regulatory, government and tax-related obligations should be factored at the outset to ensure compliance. Recovering permitted VAT / GST on domestic in-country expenses from the outset is important. Similarly, Global VAT Reclaim of overseas travels to designated counties should be planned initially – this will impact structuring the travel policy. A focus on such initial optimization will have long term benefits financially & create an optimized travel program.

Most developed economies have a very stringent corporate duty of care obligations. Such obligations can have a far-reaching negative impact on the corporate entity. Its board of directors can be exposed to litigation and expenses. When structuring a global travel program, such legal obligations must be factored and built into individual country programs. Alternatively, there could be a single consistent approach to Duty of care at a global level which can account for a simpler implementation.

When building such programs, engaging an external business travel consultant like ProKonsul, ensures that all primary factors are accounted for. 

2. Aggregate buying and consolidate purchase data

Most global business travel industry leaders don’t recognize these multinationals as significant buyers. This is because of disaggregated purchasing that these companies prefer. It is common to find individual market offices purchasing through local travel agencies, online channels & airline/hotel websites.

There is limited or no data available which supports their total aggregated global purchasing power. Nor do they have data to outline productivity by respective airlines, hotels and other business travel partners. Given this, the first step that these organizations need to take this to consolidate data, for the preceding period. Some level  analysis by respective destinations and vendors can provide a baseline for initiating a strategic sourcing function.

3. Adopt technology to develop a global travel program

It is important to create a technology lead global travel program. While having a single vendor across all geographies may be a challenge, establishing a common technology-led fulfillment is key. This will allow simple and consistent enforcement of global travel policies. Apart from generating data, technology can also automate expense claims and settlements.

As a business travel consultant, we have seen that deploying technology intelligently, reduces costs and optimizes resource deployment.

The best approach is to start a phased global travel program launch targeting primary markets first. This would allow for a progressively phased roll-out in secondary markets, eventually leading to a full global program. Self booking technology implemented with utilities like Single sign-on & HR / ERP integration in different markets would eliminate the need for individual in-country travel managers. This will also generate consistent data from every global office. The central sourcing team will get a clear line of sight to transactions, spend and fees being incurred in different locations. 

Today, apart from global business travel industry majors there are several products, based on mobile apps, that eliminate the need for paper filing of expenses. In addition to user convenience, they offer increased compliance and data capabilities.

Given the rapid growth in turnover and global footprint, multinationals based in India & Emerging markets should invest in creating a  global travel program. This will be an important step in building scalability & sustainable growth.


Want to set up your 30-minute FREE consultation with a ProKonsul business travel expert?

                               Drop us an email  [email protected] or call +91-9873196115.

                                                We would love to work with you! Call us now !! 

 ProKonsul ® optimizes the business travel lifecycle of its clients. It delivers domain expertise in enterprise business travel. Established in 2014, it is the pre-eminent business travel consultant firm in India, Asia & emerging markets. We are located in Gurgaon, India. ProKonsul ®  advisory services are supplier agnostic & governed by a robust integrity policy. 

                                                        2020 © ProKonsul – All Rights Reserved 

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Global VAT Reclaim – An opportunity missed by Indian & Asian Business Travel buyers?

Global VAT Reclaim – An opportunity missed by Indian & Asian Business Travel buyers?

Recoverable Global VAT Reclaim can constitute up to 20% of your company’s overseas T&E spends in designated countries. Surprisingly there is limited understanding & negligible focus on recovery of this significant expense category in India and Asian countries…… Why??

Global VAT Reclaim is today the single largest saving’s opportunity inherent in Asian & India business travel programs that has yet to be fully exploited.

ProKonsul represents Taxback International, Ireland. Taxback is one of the world’s largest processors of Vat Reclaim and an app center partner of SAP Concur. Their seamless integration with SAP Concur delivers unmatched technical and operational convenience to enterprise customers.

While domestic VAT reclaim on travel-related expenses are still largely recovered, Global VAT recovery is largely ignored or swept under the carpet!

There are many reasons for this inertia 

  • A lack of recognition of this extremely important cost-saving opportunity amongst the corporate & travel leadership
  • KPI’s of the business travel buyers/managers do not recognize this as a primary deliverable
  • Absence of clarity on who owns this activity – business travel operations/ procurement/ finance/ accounts payable. As a result, the ball falls between the cracks as no one takes ownership!
  • The travel management company’s & BT MICE agencies lack understanding and hence do not educate their clients on this opportunity.

Indian & Asian buyers need to engage an independent business travel consultant like ProKonsul, who can link the dots and help facilitate recovery of such significant savings inherent in their business travel program.

1. How much money is at stake?

Generally, Western Europe has the highest rates of VAT with rates going up to 27%. Overall VAT rates vary between 5% – 27%, depending on the country in question.

A simple way to calculate your potential Global VAT reclaims

Total spend on international air ticketing to the designated countries  $100,000 p.a.

Your overall reclaim potential – 20% of your air travel spend US$20,000 p.a.

The reclaim potential will vary with the destinations to which your employees travel …. More travel to Western Europe will mean higher potential recoveries being possible.

That’s a very handsome income generation by a traditional cost center like business travel …. Wouldn’t this be music to your CFO’s ears?

2. What is the scope of the opportunity?

When a company resident in India / Asia sends its employees overseas to designated countries in Europe/ Americas and Asia, they are legally entitled to recover the VAT component of expenses that their employees incur overseas during travel on expense categories.

Additionally, there are some direct corporate overseas spending that is also eligible for recovery.

The countries from which you can claim is dependent on the country in which your company is a resident. If a company pays tax in a given country and can prove this through a tax residency certificate, it is deemed to have residency in that country.

Important – This enterprise VAT reclaim is very different from the individual VAT reclaim that travelers may do to recover VAT on certain purchases overseas at airports.

The eligible expense categories for Global VAT Reclaim can be segmented into three broad groupings

A. Business Travel-related expenses

  • Accommodation of any type
  • Meals & Business Entertainment
  • Fuel Taxi & Transport

B.  Expenses related to overseas marketing & BT MICE

  • Participation in Conferences/ Exhibitions/ Trade Fairs
  • BT MICE groups that are sent overseas for education, training, incentives, etc
  • Marketing & advertising
  • Printing and stationary

C. Direct corporate expenses overseas

  • Expenses for professionals appointed overseas – lawyers/ consultants/ advisors/venture capital firms etc.
  • Inter-Company charges
  • Account payable invoices

3. How easy is it to recover Global VAT?

 All you need to recover your overseas Global VAT is to call ProKonsul. We will need

  • Your tax residency certificate
  • Original invoices

That’s it !!

If you don’t have the original invoices or invoices in the correct format, don’t fret – ProKonsul & Taxback International will arrange an invoice retrieval & correction service so the maximum number of eligible invoices can be filed for recovery.

If you work with SAP Concur, life becomes even simpler due to the seamless integration that SAP Concur has with Taxback International. This allows for a no-obligation no-fees VAT Reclaim assessment & eventually simplified reclaim filing process.

Further, there are no upfront fees payable !!!

The customers’ liability for fee payment arises only when a successful VAT Reclaim is processed in their favor, by the tax authorities of the respective countries.

We will handle the processing, invoice retrieval, and correction, filing of paperwork with the respective country tax authorities. Normally it can take between 90-180 days for the process with the tax authorities to complete.

4.  So …………What are you waiting for?

 Act now to exploit this massive saving opportunity inherent in your program.

VAT Reclaim’s are governed by strict annual deadlines, which if missed will mean that your entire reclaim becomes void.

Further, if your claims are structured, claims can be filed every quarter which means that there is a regular inflow of cash from this activity.

For business travel buyers in India & Asia, this is the single most important way for their corporate leadership to take notice of their ability to positively contribute to the company’s P&L and profits …..

What better way to build a positive perception of the business travel team within your company?

Act now, recover your Global VAT reclaim, today !!


Want to setup your 30 minute FREE consultation with a ProKonsul business travel expert?

Drop us an email  [email protected] or call +91-9873196115.

We would love to work with you! Call us now !! 


ProKonsul ® optimizes the business travel lifecycle of its clients. It deliver’s domain expertise in enterprise  business travel. Established in 2014, it is the pre-eminent business travel consulting firm in India, Asia & emerging markets. We are located in Gurgaon, India

ProKonsul ®  advisory services are supplier agnostic & governed by a robust integrity policy. 

2019 © ProKonsul – All Rights Reserved


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