Turning our thoughts to re-opening we wondered what would happen if we have to self-isolate when we are open. What would we do if guests are on route or even worse already staying? Do we need to take out insurance to cover us for this? We know that our renewed business interruption insurance no longer covers any closure related to covid. Should we be taking out an additional insurance and if so what kind?
Your question will certainly be on more than one B & B owner’s mind I am sure and my answer is certainly longer than most to ensure we cover the different parts of it. The Government website for the United Kingdom has a specific section on ‘Managing guests who have confirmed or suspected Covid-19′.
The first sentence reads ‘You should ensure you have a policy in place which covers what to do if there is a case of COVID-19 in your guest accommodation facility’.
You can find the complete guidance here
If you are not a member of your local Destination Management Organisation (DMO), some may know them as Tourism Associations, might I advise you join. They are likely to keep you updated on guidance changes which saves you scrolling the Government website. Alternatively, the B & B Association in the UK is a fantastic source of support and knowledge.
If you have a policy in place to cover what will happen if a guest tests positive for COVID-19, either prior or during their stay, I would suggest you add a section that covers what will happen if you, the owner, tests positive prior or during a guest’s stay. Make sure a guest is either sent the document or a link to it on your website as part of their booking confirmation so they have this crucial information before their visit.
With regard to insurance, I spoke to Gary Hodgson at Hodgson Insurance Services to get his expert knowledge and thoughts. ‘From an insurance point of view there is no new insurance cover that would cover customers having to cancel bookings should they have to go in to isolation’ Gary advised me. ‘As the B & B owner asking the question clearly states, insurance companies at renewal time have amended policy wordings to specifically exclude future losses caused from Covid or pandemics’ Gary added. ‘Potentially if the customer was with an insurer who settled or is settling original Covid losses from March 2020, it could be classed as a continuation from that outbreak, but that is the only potential way there could be for any upcoming losses’
Gary told me that the insurance industry suspects in the future there will be some sort of central pool set up where everyone contributes for future pandemics. He believes however this is probably a long way-off yet, as different solutions are still being discussed at government and insurer level.
This month I want to talk a little bit more about the customer habit sweeping across areas of the hospitality industry, spread-booking. For those of you blissfully unaware of spread-booking, it is the act of booking multiple B & B’s, hotels, restaurants or pubs for the same time period before deciding at the last minute which one to go to and cancelling the others.
Earlier this month a journalist wrote an article for The Telegraph Travel, here in the United Kingdom, encouraging people to book multiple holidays, if they could afford the deposit, and choose which one to go one when the time arrived before re-scheduling the others. He pointed out the travel industry was desperate and those wanting to book could take advantage of this. I wrote an article in response to this irresponsible attitude that you can find here.
As B & B owners you are more susceptible to spread-booking if you do not charge a deposit or pre-authorise a card payment. I know many owners have changed their policies to give guests more flexibility should they be affected by the impact of COVID-19.
What we do not want to see is a rise in spread-booking because of the understanding nature of business owners. It is important we work together to stamp out the last minute let downs caused by spread-booking. We need to talk about it more to raise awareness and help stop it impacting the wellbeing of both a business and the business owner.