Weathering the Coronavirus Storm for UK Activity and Tour Operators
These are crazy times we find ourselves in, from toilet-paper shortages to hundreds of people wearing water-bottles over their heads , cancelled bookings and redundancies. It's a constantly evolving situation thats it’s impacting the travel, tourism and leisure industries significantly, so we’ve put together some of the latest information on where to turn to for help and some potential opportunities to stay positive and keep busy. This is constantly evolving so we'll keep adding to it and if you have any recommendations, additions or amendments, let us know and we'll keep updating to make this as useful as possible.
With a reduction in expected bookings and outdoor freelance jobs it’s only natural you may experience cash flow problems, so here’s some initiatives that may help:
The self-employed have been left waiting for the same cover as businesses and employees ( read why here ). The latest measures announced 26th March 2020 are:
'Rishi Sunak says self-employed people facing financial difficulties will be able to have 80% of their monthly wages covered by the government.
He says this will be calculated using average monthly profits over last three financial years.
He says support will be capped at £2,500 per month, and will initially last three months.'
You need to have submitted for tax return for 2018-19. If not submitted, you need to do so by 23 April 2020. You need to be trading in the current tax year and continue to trade in 2020-21 tax year and have lost trading profits due to COVID-19. Your self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 per year based on an average of up to 3 years tax returns. The maximum amount to claim is 80% of your income up to £2,500 per month for up to 3 months.
You cannot apply now for this Grant, you will be invited by HMRC to apply based on tax returns submitted. We do not know the dates, but expect pay outs to be direct to your bank account in June.
If you're out of work, check out the universal credit page but this has limited cover and won't cover all bills. Update 20th March: these have been bolstered by £1000 this year. The Self-employed can access universal credit at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.
Self Assessment Payments postponed until Jan 2021.
As more info is published on self-employed arrangements we'll add them here.
For Businesses: Business rates have been cancelled for the next year for small companies in retail, leisure and hospitality.
HMRC have set up a Helpline for Coronavirus to help impacted businesses by helping to delay collection of taxes including: PAYE, National Insurance, VAT and Corporate Tax. Update 20th March: No VAT will be paid until the end of June, payable at the end of the financial year.
A Coronavirus Business Interruption Scheme has been launched, under which the government guarantees debt to encourage lenders to give loans to companies that would otherwise be deemed too risky. There are also a number of grants expected to be provided by local authorities where more information will be provided soon but focused on small businesses rather than freelancers.
The reimbursement of sick pay costs for up to 14 days, which is just under £200 per employee.
Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme: Employers can contact HMRC to cover employees that are not working, for cover up to 80% of salary of the retained workers above £2500 a month. Business Interruption Insurance - Are you covered? At The AGM of the Outdoor Industries Association I spoke with Duncan Sutcliffe, The Director of Mann Broadbent , one of the leading Insurers of activity companies. He said insurers work on statistics and given there are no stats on diseases that we're previously around, its very unlikely insurers factor in, or cover new diseases and impacts to businesses. You're probably not covered for business interruption due to infectious disease, but it's worth looking at the small print of your insurance policy just to make sure. It's worth checking with your insurance provider on whether you will be covered in the event of a claim of you or one of your employees passes on Coronavirus to a client in the unfortunate circumstance when this could happen.
What's the rest of the industry doing?
At Beyonk, every booking we've had up until April has been cancelled or postponed, many across the rest of 2021 have been cancelled or postponed. It's likely every booking through July may also be cancelled and postponed as we look at key events in the calendar being postponed during these months (e.g. The Olympics). You're not alone in this, every provider (and business) in the industry is facing the same situation.
35 of the Industries leading organisations have backed the government's stance that the outdoors is a great way to help with mental and physical health, but social distancing is to remain. Many of these organisations have cancelled all events for the coming months. Read more about the coordinated response from the Outdoor Industries Association here. update 23rd March 2020: all leisure centres and even many open spaces such as National Trust have closed in the spirit of reducing risks of spreading the virus.
Opportunities amongst the madness:
Yes, sometimes it’s hard to see the positives of such mad times (unless you manufacture toilet roll or bidets that is). Here’s some thoughts on how to make the most of these times: Experiment with new channels. Through social-distancing and self-isolation, the population need entertaining more than ever before. There’s only so much Netflix binging people can endure (or is there?!). If you’re an activity provider, is there a way to run online courses such as Bushcraft skills (just don’t light the fire in the house). Or try running a live Facebook story to talk about your best times adventuring to inspire others and build relationships with your customers. This is a unique environment where many are looking for distractions from the bleak corona-news and what better way than through trying something new.
Get your house in order. Bookings are likely to be slower than usual, so it’s a good opportunity to focus on improving your business rather than responding to customers and delivering courses. Bolster your online presence using third parties to help you sell more, spend time on website improvements, invest in SEO , or try improving packaging up of activities and tours or even getting creative and thinking of new exciting activities to offer. Try guest-blogging for others or writing some good content on your own website to attract more curious readers and potential customers. Or invest in your most valuable asset - yourself, by studying for more qualifications.
Business or Freelancer with insurance cover and quals? Add experiences to Beyonk.com , so that when customer confidence picks up you have an opportunity to take bookings directly by being found across our key partner websites, tourist boards, national parks and accommodation platforms.
Looking for booking software to sell more? Now's a good time to research the various options. Ours is the same price as Paypal with no other fees, yet syncs your live availability across key distribution sites to maximise bookings and minimise admin! Check it out here - Beyonk activity booking software.
Prepare for the spike. After being locked-in for so long, there’s a good chance that consumers will want to escape from it all. Rural areas, particularly in staycations will get a spike of bookings as consumer confidence may take longer to restore from international travel. Be prepared and plan the marketing strategy and tactics for when people are looking to get active again. Be ready to get noisy on social media, launch a video or get your paid advertising ready to go.
Try a 'side-gig'.
- Have skills other businesses want? Get yourself on sites like upwork.com and offer your services for a little extra cash on the side from copywriting, blog posting, data-entry and all sorts.
- Supermarkets, hospitals, call centres, farms and delivery drivers are some of the hot jobs right now with demand outstripping their capacity. Check out their websites and social media as many jobs are appearing and it's a case of being proactive and getting there first.
- Public transport is operating on revised schedules – try offering long-trips as a lower risk alternative to public transport for transmitting coronavirus for essential journeys.
Take care of yourself. some experts say stay off social media during the coronavirus crisis to avoid being overwhelmed with corona-information coupled with isolation. Get your adventure fix. Watch 9 YouTube channels to inspire you to get outdoors (like you need that!)
Want to talk in the loneliness? Drop us a message.
Quarantined regards, Oscar @ Beyonk