How COVID-19 is affecting the hospitality and event-space


With over 124,000 cases confirmed globally, and 4,608 deaths, the COVID-19 coronavirus is now officially a global pandemic, according to the WHO

…and we’re all feeling the bite.

The beer Corona has reported its’ worst quarter in ten years, the stock market has halted for the first time since the 2008 meltdown, and sporting events around the world have been put on hold. 

Imposed quarantines, self-quarantines, and the general populace avoiding public spaces in response to the spread of the coronavirus are having drastic impacts on all kinds of businesses, large and small, the world over.

In the UK, where there have been 456 confirmed cases and 8 COVID-19 related deaths to date, businesses in the hospitality and events sector have been amongst the worst-hit companies by the impact the virus is having on peoples’ behaviour and spending patterns as well as political regulations.

Losses across the board

While some young entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the situation by selling squirts of hand sanitizer for 50p a pop (albeit to the chagrin of their school headmasters), most other businesses, particularly in the events and hospitality space, are already recording losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds.     

The hospitality and events space in the UK depends largely on social and sporting events. Combined with reduced public footfall, the cancellation or delay of these events means a growing number of hospitality and events businesses throughout the UK are suffering from the hysteria and precaution surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.    

It is understandable as people are being encouraged to stay away from public places and keep themselves safe in their own homes. What’s more, the significant reduction in tourism to the UK is having a significant impact on hotel bookings, which have currently dropped in the capital by 15%, and bar, coffee shop and restaurant trade have reduced by up to 40% for some businesses.

It’s just starting

These declines include large music event organizers such as Troxy events space in East London reporting a reduction of 30% in attendance at two nightclubs over the past weekend. And while these current figures are alarming, analysts are warning businesses that it is likely to get worse as 2020 moves onwards.

As flight cancellations continue to increase, as do confirmed cases in the UK, as of March 12th 2020, the state of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK is evolving from ‘containment’ to ‘delay’.

Currently, non-mandatory self-isolation is the advised measure for anyone experiencing any of the symptoms of the virus, which include;

• High temperature
• Cough
• Shortness of breath

The delay phase of the outbreak involves slowing the spread of the virus, which could involve measures such as “social distancing”, including imposed restrictions on public gatherings above a certain size.

For example, the German Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for the cancellation of any public event which would host more than 1000 people. As yet, it seems unlikely that such drastic measures will be imposed in the UK. However, organizations, particularly small businesses and those in the hospitality and events space, need to take steps to mitigate the impact that the coronavirus will have on their trade.

Effects on businesses

The most obvious impact that people staying at home and away from public places has on restaurants, bars, coffee shops, music events, meetings, conferences, concerts, and other businesses out of the hospitality sector, is that people are no longer in these establishments spending their money. 

This is akin to the 2003 SARS outbreak situation, which saw similar public behaviour. Facility managers, business owners, and the general public can learn from the last global viral outbreak, and expect;  

  • Uncertainty and late changes to public events.
  • As events, bookings, reservations and attendance drops, businesses need to handle a severe decrease in staff consistency and implement infrastructure to use on-demand workers as necessary. 
  • Remote work is becoming increasingly necessary, as is the capacity of businesses to handle their workforce and make real-time changes from any location.
  • Effective communication with internal and external teams is critical to maintaining any form of customer service 

This has a direct influence on income and profits, with an overall 7% drop in UK hospitality spending over the last week due to the coronavirus in London. In this sector, a short-term cash flow crisis quickly becomes severe, as many employees can face potential unemployment and businesses can face bankruptcy when it is no longer profitable for these businesses to have full-time staff on site.  

Westminster has issued a series of unprecedented measures to help struggling SMEs, including those in the hospitality and events space. With these handouts, chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered SMEs a cash buffer which will remove some of their fixed overheads. However, many are questioning how effective these measures will be in the long run in protecting these businesses against the impending effects of a developing coronavirus issue in the UK.  

What can be done

There are several measures that businesses in the hospitality and events sector can take to brace themselves against the impact coronavirus is having on the general economy.

These include handling staff lay-offs and shift shortages, ensuring effective communication and transparency with all their staff, and updating all of that information in real-time with integrated workforce management software

Mitigation with integrated workforce management software

Instances such as these are where integrated workforce management software can be particularly beneficial to businesses in the hospitality and events sector.

Gameplan’s industry-leading, complete integrated workforce management software equips facility managers, caterers, event organizers and other organizations in the hospitality and events space to face the gruelling times ahead.

Depending on your business, Gameplan offers a unique set of benefits to businesses large and small, across various businesses in the hospitality and events space.

In particular, our software can help your business to; 

  • Make last-minute changes, keeping your entire workforce and staff suppliers updated with any changes in event date, time, cancellations or staff demand through push notifications on their mobile devices.
  • Automatically send out notifications and ensure no team member is left unaware of any change to an event or requirements.
  • Strengthen communication and keep your team and staffing agencies informed by deploying our manager and staff iOS and Android apps.
  • Query Management to handle all questions and potential concerns on one centralised platform.

Furthermore, businesses and event organizers can garner a reputation for a safe, sterile environment by… 

following a set of best practices  

Gameplan recommends the following best-practice precautions for managers and establishments in the hospitality and events space to ensure employee and guest health and safety;

  • Ensure the disinfectant products used in your establishment are pre-approved for fighting emerging viral pathogens
  • Make these disinfectants, such as hand sanitizers and surface sprays, available in each room of your establishment and encourage guests to use them regularly
  • Frequently clean public and front-of-house spaces. High-touch areas, such as elevators, doorknobs, ice-vending machines and pens also should be periodically cleaned

By following these precautions, and making it well known to customers that your establishment is being mindful of the modes of coronavirus transmission, customers will naturally be more inclined to patronize the establishment.

Nonetheless, businesses will undoubtedly face the harsh reality of needing to reduce shifts and staff hours. In worst-case scenarios, full-time employees may need to be reduced to part-timers, and part-time employees could potentially lose their hours completely.

These staffing issues can bring several issues for establishments, particularly if, during a predicted quiet shift, customer numbers are higher than expected, and there is not enough staff to meet customer service expectations.

It is clear that public perception is crucial to keeping some flow of customers through an establishment, and that to maximize profits, overheads need to be minimized. By using Gameplan’s integrated workforce management software, and following best practices, hospitality and events businesses can boost their public perception and properly manage their workforce to maximize profits during this difficult economic time.   

The advice offered in this article is by no means a sure-fire way of keeping out of trouble during the increasingly difficult coronavirus landscape, but implementing some of these tips might just be the difference between a profit and a loss.

To learn more about Gameplans Workforce Management Software 2.0, book a call with one of our team members and find out precisely how we can tackle those issues in your organisation. 

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Learn more about Gameplan and how we can help your business.

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Learn more about Gameplan and how we can help your business.