Over 60 members of the HBAA gathered at etc.venues’ newest property in St Paul’s to discuss the financial implications affecting the sector. Subject matters included TOMS, VAT recovery, billback and commission payment issues.
The HBAA Finance forum reflects the association’s drive for best practice and ensures a 360 degree approach to driving professionalism across every function within agencies, hotels and venues.
The event drew a keynote session by accountancy firm Saffery Champness, who opened the day with an insight into current VAT legislation. VAT Partner, David Bennett highlighted the implicit need for hotels and venues to understand the differences and implications of the terminology ‘agent’ and ‘principal’. David commented: “Flexibility is very important: those organising travel for business use may want to adopt differing positions for different clients and in various circumstances to make the VAT rules work as effectively as possible.”
Other sessions included a panel of representatives from agencies PHR and BSI, along with hotels Hilton and Sarova debating the recurrent issues relating to commission payments.
Financial changes and implications are increasingly prevalent within the hotel booking sector, as such the HBAA has committed to working towards a document to help agents and venues to improve the secure handling of client funds and develop processes that reduce the credit risks between agents and venues. A working party will also look at how new technology can help streamline processes.
Dave Dosanjh, financial controller for Capita Business Travel, commented: “The Finance Forum was full of very knowledgeable individuals who were all prepared to contribute their ideas, experiences and frustrations. I came away feeling there were lots of different areas which affect the whole Industry where we could work together to make improvements; in particular automated billback procedures and examining concerns and differences over commissions levels.”
Peter Ducker, executive director from the HBAA, commented: “We were very pleased with the response of our member’s finance departments as we are keen to engage with every role in our members organisation. Working with the financial departments, we aim to pioneer the requisite changes on billback procedures and commission payments and to ensure our members add value to their clients by offering transparent and effective business practices.”
Jonathan Ashley Cowan, managing director of PHR, commented: “It was no surprise that the topics for this year’s HBAA Financial Forum were the same old suspects but I have to say that after the event I came away feeling very positive that, with the involvement of the HBAA, we may be on the verge of coming up with solutions to a number of these issues.”
Category: Industry Associations News