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HOSPA Coronavirus Update 18th March

So, this is bad. And it’s going to get worse. The Spanish hotels have all been closed and there are rumours galore about London.

I have heard the current situation compared to 9/11 many times. In an interview with Hotels magazine Tim Hansing CEO of Red Planet hotels has said it is 9/11 and Lehman Brothers combined, and he knows better than many of us in the UK. A Bangkok based company, Red Planet operates 31 hotels, totalling nearly 5,000 bedrooms in the Far East. He has lived through this crisis and is coming out the other side. He has some harsh realities to share:

· You cannot be prepared enough

· Single digit occupancy will be the norm

· Your hotels aren’t going to make any money

· Sort out your debt provision with your bank

· Reduce your staff costs now

On the positive side, his opinion is that the UK response is good, but he suspects the EU will have bigger problems and he suggests the US is probably the least prepared in the world, both medically and economically.

Our partners at UKHospitality are focussing on encouraging the Government to:

· Extend the business rates and NIC holiday to all hospitality businesses for at least 6 months

· Follow the lead of the USA, France and Denmark by committing to additional working capital support while funding salaries and retaining staff

· Call on landlords and banks to avoid forfeiture of rent payments

Meanwhile BDO, an international network of public accounting, tax, consulting and business advisory firms, is asking the Government to:

· Urgently consider acting as the insurer of last resort

The HOSPA phones have been buzzing with hoteliers wanting to know what other hoteliers are doing, wanting to know if we have any inside information from Public Health England or the Government. We have no bat phone with direct lines to anyone, but we are in regular communication with UKHospitality which is lobbying the Government on our behalf. We are listening to our members and sharing advice and thoughts. To give you some insight into the lay of the land, here are some examples of what has been done by our members:

· salary cuts across the board (from GM through to all levels)

· redundancies

· forced unpaid leave of x days each week

· redeploying staff to hospitals to help in food production / cleaning / administration to support medically trained staff

· increased cleaning

· offering hotel beds to the NHS

· holding rates as reduced rates won’t increase demand

So, keep calm and carry on then? Essentially, yes. Keep calm, make some immediate changes and carry on as best you can...

Remember though, that we’re all in this together and that, at some point, we will come out the other side.


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