UK venues reveal the scale of COVID-19 impact – but share their positive tips

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As the COVID-19 crisis deepens, UK venues and hotels have been revealing the true cost to their businesses – and sharing their best tips for survival.

A survey this week on behalf of NFS Technology Group found that 90% of venues are seeing meetings and events move to July onwards.

Hotel groups appear initially to be more impacted because bedroom occupancy is affected as well as their meeting space occupancy.

Two major hotel companies report a £1.3m drop in business for Q1, and one group measured just 10% occupancy of their rooms on March 16.

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Other key findings include:

  • 50% of venues reported enquiry levels are down on average 35 – 40% in the last week
  • International speakers and attendees have cancelled from events, so some venues have seen cancellations up to June 2020 as there is no clear end date to the lockdown
  • Venues have suffered a financial impact in the region of £80 – 150K so far, but some mitigated this with cancellation charges
  • Most venues are only allowing clients to move once without cancellation charges, and if they then cancel again then charges apply
  • For any last-minute cancellations where costs have incurred clients are being asked to cover costs

One bright spot is that health care professional meetings are still going ahead – but venues feel this will change as the situation worsens and they are needed in hospitals, and 20% have already seen this happen.

With businesses postponing, budgets are being somewhat protected with the revenue coming later in the calendar year. However, if the events move into 2021 this year’s budgets will be affected. 

Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology, commissioned the survey, and he said: “Our venues and meetings industry is being hit hard – like many other sectors – by the crisis, but it’s far from throwing in the towel.

“Our survey has uncovered some shocking results, but the hotels and venues we talked to were also keen to share positive actions that can be taken.”

Top tips from the venues include:

  1. Postponed events mean Q3/4 slots are getting booked up fast – if you have clients who normally book then but haven’t yet done it, encourage them to secure their dates now.
  2. Keep close to key accounts and users of your venue – ensure that relationships stay strong and both sides feel supported.
  3. Don’t put pressure on clients, but act as a consultant and a critical friend so they turn to you when they can book again.
  4. Send documentation to clients who have meetings and events booked in the coming months to reassure them about the robust cleaning processes in place within your venue
  5. Before guests come on-site, make sure they have received clear instructions of the hygiene expectations of them on arrival
  6. Increase signage in the building to make sure everyone on site is fully aware of the processes and behaviours required of them.

NFS Technology is the provider of Rendezvous Events venue management software and has many clients in the UK sector.

Luis De Souza said: “This crisis won’t last forever, and it’s good to see that venues and hotel groups, while suffering, already have their eyes firmly on the future.

“We’ll be repeating our survey on a regular basis to monitor the effects on the sector, and working closely with our clients and contacts to offer whatever help we can.”

* More information at www.nfstechnologygroup.com

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.