As the coronavirus crisis grips, UK hotels and venues have been revealing the real cost to their businesses – and offering their top tips for survival.
A survey this week on behalf of NFS Technology found 90% of venues have seen meetings and events move to July onwards.
Hotel groups appear to be more impacted initially because their bedroom occupancy is affected as well as their meeting space usage.
Two large hotel companies report a £1.3m drop in business for Q1, and one group measured just 10% occupancy of their rooms on March 16.
Other headline findings include:
- 50% of venues reported that enquiry levels are down an average 35 – 40% in the last week
- International speakers and attendees have bailed out of events, so some venues have seen cancellations up to June 2020
- Venues have suffered a financial impact of around £80 – 150K so far, but some have mitigated this with cancellation charges
- Most venues are only allowing clients to move once without cancellation charges, and if they cancel again after that, charges apply
- For last minute cancellations where costs have been incurred clients are being asked to cover costs
One brighter spot is that health care professional meetings are still continuing – but venues feel this will change as the situation deepens and they are needed in hospitals. 20% of respondents have already seen this happen.
With businesses postponing, budgets are being protected with revenue coming later in the calendar year, but if the events move into 2021 this year’s budgets will be affected.
Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology, commissioned the survey, and said: “Our hotels, venues and meetings sectors being hit very hard – like many other sectors – by the Covid19 crisis, but they are far from giving in.
“The survey uncovered some shocking results, but the hotels and venues we spoke to were also keen to share positive actions.”
Tips from the hotels and venues include:
- Postponed events mean Q3/4 slots are being booked up fast – if you have clients who normally book then but haven’t yet, encourage them to secure dates now.
- Stay close to key accounts and users of your venue – ensure relationships stay strong and both sides feel supported.
- Don’t pressurise clients, but act as a consultant and critical friend so they turn to you when they can book again.
- Send documentation to clients who have meetings and events booked in coming months to reassure them that robust cleaning processes are in place at your venue
- Before guests come on site, ensure they have been given clear instructions of the hygiene expectations of them on arrival.
- Increase signage in your building to make sure everyone on site is fully aware of processes and behaviours required of them.
Luis De Souza said: “This crisis won’t go on forever, and it’s good to see that venues and hotel groups, while feeling the pain, already have their eyes on the future.
“We’ll be repeating our survey regularly to monitor the effects on the sector, and working closely with our valued clients and contacts to offer whatever help we can.”