Venues within the UK will be more flexible on cancellation terms but are adding more robust contract clauses to cover potentially similar issues, according a survey on venue attitudes to commercial terms following the Covid-19 crisis.
The survey, conducted by the UK Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), spoke to 35 member venues, including 18 venue groups and 17 independent venues, revealed that nearly all are still planning how to handle the additional costs resulting from social distancing and extra cleaning at present.
Juliet Price, consultant executive director of HBAA says: “This is a shared cost and one of which contributes to guest, employee and delegate safety so it is paramount today and for the future. These costs shouldn’t and can’t be automatically absorbed by venues.”
Forty-seven percent of independents and 44% of hotel groups within the UK are still in the planning stages of selling strategies for large meeting space. Many say they are waiting to see how the market settles down before committing to future strategies or at least outlining them.
However, after discussions about force majeure clauses, many venues are introducing new wording that specifically and clearly addresses pandemics and Government advice.
Independent venues, which are often more able to be agile in their operations, are behind group properties when it comes to flexibility over allowing customers to bring in their own food and in reorganising the working hours of their conference sales offices to meet the needs of agencies: 87% of independents and 61% of hotel groups expect to provide food in-house rather than enabling incoming deliveries of food for meetings and events, while 65% of independents and 82% of groups are flexing the working patterns of their conference bookings and finance teams to support all parties.
The survey also shows that nearly all UK venues recognise the need for a type of Covid-safe accreditation such as the Quality in Tourism’s ‘Safe, Clean and Legal’ to regain consumer confidence. They are working to gain accreditation if they haven’t done so already as well as continuing with their own standards, all to kick start confidence and enable industry recovery.
Price added: “HBAA is committed to ensuring that the industry is #FutureFit and an important element of that is learning from the experiences of the last few months, and to be ready not only for a potential second wave, even locally, but also for the new reality. Our HBAA #FutureFit Live event scheduled for 6 October in Birmingham will explore this fully in person and bring it to life.”