Read the government guidelines here.
- If necessary, put any PAYE staff into furlough as soon as you can
- Talk to your bank about helping you – loans are being guaranteed by the government and no interest is payable for the time being
- Talk to your insurance agency about if/how they can help you
- Check whether you qualify for rate relief in the above guidelines (you don’t need to do anything, but knowing will at least be peace of mind), and if you are eligible for a grant of up to £10,000 or £25,000
At the moment, this page is geared more towards accommodation – small hotels, b&bs, campsites etc. More thoughts for the rest of the industry to follow; please let me know what you’re struggling with.
Generating short-term income
I’m still fine-tuning the details of this, so there will be more soon, but the best way I can work out to generate some short-term income is to offer your contact list / website visitors / social media contacts the chance to book an undated holiday with you, and pay the deposit now.
When you reopen, you can then give them priority booking (after any current guests are rescheduled).
It gives you income from deposits right now, but also means there is money to come in the future when they confirm their bookings dates.
Communicating with your guests
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH PEOPLE. Hiding away might feel like an easier option, but it is going to make your life more and more difficult.
If it’s easier, record an outgoing answering machine message along the lines of:
Please be patient while we are dealing with a huge volume of calls and emails. If possible, please email us on [YOUR EMAIL] and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you so much for understanding during this hugely difficult time for us.
Then, set-up an ‘out of office reply’ on your email, something like:
Please be aware we are receiving a lot of emails at the moment. We are sending out an update as soon as possible with full details about bookings. If your email is about something else we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Thank you for understanding.
Get this done as quickly as possible, and post something on all of your social media accounts on similar lines.
Email your bookings
Here is a suggested email to send to anyone who has a booking which may be affected. Read it carefully and adjust it as needed. Make sure you add any email addresses, phone numbers, links to contact pages / terms and conditions as appropriate. You can of course adjust it to suit you – some businesses are offering refunds on cancellations to April / May / June. try and find a balance between ensuring your survival and keeping your customers happy. Businesses which can get through this and build the loyalty of their customers will thrive. I’m expecting a mini-boom of demand in the tourism industry once we are all free to travel again.
You might consider adapting it slightly – offering refunds to people booked until April 13th, but not mentioning them to others. You could send slightly different emails to people booked in during April, May, June etc.
Note this is merely a suggestion, and the final decision to use any of the content is yours.
Thank you for your patience while we react to this extraordinary situation. We understand a lot of people are struggling because of this, and we are too.
All bookings between now and April 13th are cancelled. This is not our decision, but due to government instructions. You must not visit us during this time.
We would prefer it if you could wait until we know when we can start accepting bookings again, but please read on for full details of your options.
All bookings after April 13th are still currently valid until the government tells us otherwise. However, we are fully expecting this situation to continue to change rapidly, and will keep you updated as it does. Please, unless it is very urgent, wait for us to contact you.
Please, if you can, make a decision in the order we present below. We are anticipating a surge in bookings once people are free to travel around, so have given you options to stay at the front of the queue.
We desperately want everyone to remain healthy and safe, but we also want to make sure we are still here to welcome you at the end of this. We are a small business, fighting hard to survive, and anything you can do to help us will be so gratefully received, thank you.
1. Wait, and rearrange your booking
We cannot rearrange your booking now, because we don’t know when we will be allowed to reopen. But we will offer you first choice on the available dates when information is available.
As soon as we know what is happening we will be in touch. If you are happy with this, you do not need to contact us – we’ll keep you up-to-date.
2. Receive a partial refund
If you are booked to stay with us between now and April 13th – the day for the next review of the government lockdown – we will refund you any percentage you ask for of your booking, up to 75%. We’ll then keep the remainder as a deposit towards your next booking. You’ll get priority booking after our guests in group 1, above.
3. Receive a full refund
If you are booked to stay with us between now and April 13th – the day for the next review of the government lockdown – we will provide you with a full refund if you ask us for one.
But we do politely ask that if there is any way you can choose to change your booking for later in the year or even next year, we would hugely appreciate it.
That said, we do understand that some people will simply need their money back. Please don’t feel bad.
If you would like a full refund and a complete cancellation of your booking please ask us and we will refund you in full, including your deposit.
If you would like to cancel your booking after April 13th, note that our usual booking terms will apply.
Please email us if you would like to cancel or have any questions, and only call us if it is urgent. We’ll get back to you as quickly as we can, but please do understand we are working through a lot of emails and calls right now.
Try and stay friendly and positive, but also clear and professional.
Good luck. If you want to run anything by me, get in touch.