Industry Update
Opinion Article24 March 2020

A bewildering day - here is what I have learnt..

UK Update from HOSPA Chief Executive

By Jane Pendlebury, CEO at HOSPA

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Pendlebury

Today has been another bewildering day for hoteliers. Thanks to Friday's Government announcement, we are clear on what to do with pubs, restaurants, spas and gyms, but less clear on bedroom accommodation. I continue to work alongside UK Hospitality which has strongly discouraged taking any future reservations for leisure purposes in the coming months.

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Whilst we await an 8.30pm briefing from our Prime Minister..

· For those that have in house guests, food should be delivered to rooms and non-residents must not be allowed to gather in public areas but are permitted to purchase takeaways.

· Current guests should consider leaving your premises

· On the furloughing of staff, any staff that were on your payroll at the end of February but are now being temporarily laid off will receive 80% (up to £2.5k per month). This is unlikely to come to fruition until April and it appears that the mechanics aren't yet fully defined. A good option is to contact the ACAS hotline to ask as to who would qualify for the grants. Some contracts may not allow for furloughing and many hotels have casual staff / zero hours contracts. Anecdotal feedback from hoteliers suggests that taking an average of hours worked over the last few weeks/months would be a good starting point for casual workers.

· There are also lots of deferment of tax payments and rates. I am assuming HOSPA members are all well aware of those, but if not, please do get in touch and we will endeavour to point you in the right direction.

· UK Hospitality is currently collating a list of hotels who have shown an interest in letting rooms to NHS staff and will coordinate the feed into the Government machine. If you are willing to volunteer your property please email [email protected]

· Another option is to work directly with your local NHS Trust. According to some who have done so, the progress with this is swift - so it could be worth reaching out to them directly in the first instance.

· A further example of putting hotels to good use is emerging in London, with around 300 of London's hotel beds being offered to rough sleepers who were already known to the homeless charities. This should help spread the Coronavirus spreading unnecessarily to more vulnerable people. London Mayor Sadiq Kahn is working with IHG to block book rooms at a discounted rate.

Many hotels have closed their doors, especially smaller, privately owned hotels in the provinces. Some hotels are remaining open and will do so unless dictated otherwise.

Most are being forgiving of restrictions imposed at time of booking (cancellation clauses etc) and some are offering vouchers in place of refunds.

Many of our sponsors and friends in the industry are offering help in the form of digital support, with most not expecting any remuneration. If you feel you need help with your booking processes or communications then please call the HOSPA office on 0203 418 8196 and we will link you with the appropriate supplier.

Jane Pendlebury

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