By Sam Richards, Marketing Manager at Gazeboshop (www.gazeboshop.co.uk)
As lockdown rules ease across the UK, the hospitality industry has been reopening to host customers in their outdoor facilities.With this industry being hit harder than most during the pandemic, this announcement has given a new lease of hope to many venues who were struggling to survive.
However, with restaurants, pubs and bars only permitted to serve and host customers in outdoor facilities, many have been dubious about how the British weather would impact footfall.To help the industry as they adapt to this ease in restrictions and keep their customers sheltered from April showers, Samantha Richards, Marketing Manager of Gazeboshop, will offer five practical suggestions for how the hospitality sector can keep going through any bad weather spell.
1. UNDERSTAND THE LEGAL REGULATIONS SET OUT BY YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Creating an outdoor area which will protect customers from the weather but also fit in line with government regulations is a challenge for the hospitality industry. An outdoor space constitutes any area which is not indoors, including terraces, pavement spaces in front of venues (if permit permitted), and beer gardens. Businesses must ensure their out- door space abides by their local regulations to avoid facing a fine or being shut down through the month.
2. CARRY OUT A THOROUGH RISK ASSESSMENT OF THE OUTDOOR AREA
If your business is not used to hosting a large number of customers outside, you will need to carry out a risk assessment when proofing your venue to ensure you have identified the potential risk of hosting dozens, if not hundreds of people in the same space.This risk assessment should include preparing for all weather conditions to ensure proper contingencies are in place for a sudden downpour in rain or storm.
3. INVEST IN COVERED SHELTER TO PROTECT GUESTS FROM THE RAIN
The government has announced that businesses in the hospitality sector are permitted to erect marquees and gazebos without first needing to obtain planning permission.Whilst some have taken a chance with open-top gardens, hospitality owners may want to consider an outdoor shelter to ensure their guests won’t be put off when it starts to drizzle. To be considered an outdoor shelter, these structures can have a roof but must have at least 50% of their wall area open at all times whilst in use.
4. FIND A WAY TO KEEP THE WINTER CHILL AT BAY
Customers attending an outdoor venue will most likely be wrapped up warm in preparation for a chilly evening, but finding ways to warm up your shelter will be greatly appreciated by any visitors. Investing in convection heaters which circulate warm air to heat up the surrounding area could be useful for a large space, as well as offering blankets on chairs to guests who start to feel chilly as the evening cools down.
5. MANAGE BOOKINGS CAREFULLY IN CASE OF CANCELLATIONS
With the possibility of customers cancelling their bookings last minute if the weather turns, operators will need to manage bookings carefully to ensure too many tables do not go unused. Some venues have decided to request deposits from customers, others are waiving cancellation charges entirely, and some have scrapped their booking system entirely and are only offering walk-in tables. Each business will need to assess their customer base and system to decide on which approach to take this summer to ensure they can maximise their booking offering.