HBAA: Venues can’t cover all Covid safety costs

By Bev Fearis, published 05/08/20

A survey of meeting and event venues has highlighted confusion over who should absorb the additional costs of social distancing and extra cleaning.

The HBAA survey of 18 venue groups and 17 independent venues, designed to gauge attitudes to commercial terms following the Covid-19 crisis, found nearly all venues are still trying to work out who should be responsible for paying for the extra measures.

Juliet Price, Consultant Executive Director of HBAA, said: “This is a shared cost and one 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.”

The survey also found that venues will be more flexible on cancellation terms but are adding more robust contract clauses.

After discussions about Force Majeure clauses, many venues are introducing new wording that specifically and clearly addresses pandemics and Government advice.

Surprisingly, independent venues are behind group properties when it comes to flexibility over allowing customers to bring in their own food for meetings and events, with 87% of independents and 61% of hotel groups expected to provide food in-house rather than allowing incoming deliveries.

They were also found to be less flexible over reorganising the working hours of their conference sales offices to meet the needs of agencies, with 65% of independents and 82% of groups flexing the working patterns of their conference bookings and finance teams to support all parties.

The survey shows that nearly all 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.

“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,” said Price.

The HBAA is holding a #FutureFit Live event in Birmingham on October 6.