COVID-19: Eventrac Update

25 Mar, 2020 05:08 By: Nikki Hawkes

 

These are challenging times! Our government is encouraging social distancing  in a bid to reduce and slow the spread of coronavirus.   As you are no doubt aware, this warning has been extended to mass gatherings, with the public being advised to cease all non-essential travel and avoid all gatherings big and small.  This is sensible advice which we must all heed but inevitably the situation will have a huge impact on our challenge event industry in the short term, (particularly as currently race events are not included in the definition of “Retail, Hospitality and Leisure” thus falling outside some of the business definition for the variety of support on offer).  This leaves anyone who has a business organising races and events in confusion into what help is out there for them and what they should do with events in the calendar due to be held later in the year.

We have spent some time trying to sift through what has been published to date and outline below some practical advice based on the questions we have been receiving from some of you and which we hope will be of some help.  Clearly this is a fast moving landscape of advice and you are advised to keep monitoring reliable sources such as the NHS, Gov.UK and BBC – This is in two sections - Part 1 deals with event organisation generally and Part 2 signposts you to some business advice too (which may or may not be relevant to your business circumstances).

Part 1 - The Practical Stuff

What should I do if I have events listed on Eventrac but am not sure what to do in the light of the government announcements?

Protecting people is critical but we encourage you not to lose sight of protecting your reputation too! If you do decide to cancel then the when and how you notify your participants will leave a lasting impression with them.  If you want returning business when this crisis passes – and it will pass - it will be extremely important to give them as much customer care as possible from the perspective of early notice and clarity. Please make sure you let the Eventrac team know as soon as possible that your event is cancelled or postponed and either update your page yourself or ask us to do so.  Please also make sure that you mirror this on your own website if you have one. If you want to send out a bulk email to your opt ins we can help you do this but ask again that you give us as much notice as possible, as we are extremely busy trying to help all of our organisers at the moment.

Events with over 500 entrants.

The current advice of a mass gathering in the guidance published by the Government in  England and Wales does not specify minimum numbers but urges people not to attend mass gatherings whilst stressing that the risks are low.  In Scotland the advice is a little clearer and they define a mass gathering as 500 or more.  The advice is that events of this size should be cancelled or postponed in order to protect participants, spectators and relieve the burden on the emergency services.  The industry appears to be taking a staged approach to this, currently we are seeing many organisers and clubs taking the view to cancel or postpone events and competitions up until the end of April.  We expect this trend to continue into the months beyond as we are, of course, being told that getting on top of this virus is going to be a marathon not a sprint!

Events with less than 500 entrants

We all have a duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of each other.  You may already be getting enquiries from participants as to whether the event will be going ahead or individually they may be pulling out.  Perhaps after agonising over the decision you may have decided to cancel or postpone. You won’t have taken this decision lightly but you want to help protect your participants, marshalls, volunteers and spectators – those people who will be hopefully returning when this crisis is passed – and it will pass! 

What should I do if I decide to postpone my event?

If you want to postpone and have date in mind then you will need to follow all the normal steps for staging the event, but before you go firm on the date you will need to contact your local authority (if you have already got a license – they may agree to transfer it).

What can I do to retain a following for my events?

  • Keep in touch with your participants, and maintain the “team/club community spirit” :-
  • Send a regular e-newsletter – communicate, communicate, communicate – technology will play now play an ever greater role in keeping in touch
  • Keep your facebook, twitter and Instagram sites with fresh and motivational content so you get lots of views, likes and shares.
  • Encourage participants to post on your facebook or Instagram page, sharing with each other how they are retaining their fitness levels and morale
  • Encourage blogging and post topical articles such as healthy eating, recipes, training in a confined space, core strength focus etc etc
  • Encourage solo training (cycling, turbotraining, early morning/late night runs avoiding people) 
  • Consider organising a Virtual Event.
  • Offer discount codes
  • Encourage route sharing (Strava, Komoot)
  • Keep in touch with your sponsors and suppliers – they may be struggling businesses too, so see how you can help each other.

We urge you to put this time to good use ie - address your business planning, think ahead, write your marketing strategies, keep planning ahead and most important of all stay stress-free, fit, well and healthy.

When should I communicate the cancellation or postponement?

You don’t need to provide all of the answers immediately, but you do need to assure athletes registered for your event that you have their best interests at heart. This is also a useful tactic to use when there are last-minute weather events. Telling people that you are working on it is reasonable. Give them a time frame and try to stick with it. Carefully consider the way you deliver information about event cancellation to reduce the risk of receiving hundreds of emails with the same question. It also helps to create a page of FAQ's that you can link in your emails to direct people towards. And last but not least, proof your emails by others! 

What happens if a participant wants a refund?

For many event companies, this option is unavailable due to the costs incurred from the beginning of releasing a race. However, in some cases of athlete extenuating circumstances you might consider giving a full or partial refund to someone, which you can do easily within seconds from your Eventrac platform. 

In light of the situation, this is also a good time to update your event refunds policy, which you can use to point participants to who are demanding a refund to streamline your email communications.

Maintaining Sponsor Support

Event partners such as running clubs, goodie bag sponsors and financial supporters should be prioritised in your updates as a matter of courtesy. It’s your job to make them feel special and appreciated, whilst also liaising with them where necessary around event logistics before deciding on a new date. When the new date is announced to the public, they will feel appreciated and valued for being your first line of contact. From there, make sure you keep communicating with them so you can realign your plans to support them through product promotion, brand recognition and so forth to instill loyalty. 

Keeping participants engaged during event cancellations

Vetting other options to allow displaced athletes to race in 2020 can include putting on a virtual race. As virtual races increase in popularity we are looking at how eventrac can help you deliver your event online. With no events able to proceed in the immediate future, but independent running still being an option, giving your participants an alternative challenge to complete whilst still rewarding them with race bling can be supported through our results system.

Helpful  advice released by governing bodies amongst running, cycling, triathlons and more:

 

Part 2 – Currently Available Business Advice Services etc*.

Whilst many Race organisers may not be operating their businesses as limited companies, some of the information* we have gathered below therefore may not be relevant, but we have included it anyway you will know someone else who does run a limited company so may be able to forward on.  It is a fast moving situation and the advice is changing daily so do keep yourself up to date before making difficult decisions.

  • For individual businesses, the first port of call for advice and support is gov.uk. 
  • HMRC have launched a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Find all the information here. The number is 0800 0159 559. 
  • Companies House has produced guidance if coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts. Find all the information here.
  • For the latest information and advice, employers and business owners should visit guidance for employees, employers and businesses. Check the page regularly for updates and subscribe to receive email alerts 
  • Information on the support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • ACAS has published information for employees and employers, including information on simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff, sick pay and absence from work 
  • A new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will enable businesses with a turnover of no more than £41m to apply for a loan of up to £1.2m, with the Government covering up to 80% of any losses with no fees. This will unlock up to £1 billion pounds to protect and support small businesses.  https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/supporting-business-loans-enterprise-finance-guarantee/  
  • For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of statutory sick pay per employee will be refunded by the Government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2bn to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.    
  • A VAT payment deferral will apply from 20 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.  This applies to all businesses who are registered for VAT.
  • If you pay a mortgage and may be financially disadvantaged during this crisis you may be able to apply for a mortgage holiday ie deferring payments for 3 months.
  • For Income Tax Self-Assessment, payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021.  
  • The Chancellor announced that Cash grants are being offered but eligibility is dependent upon the individual business circumstances, ie if you don’t have business premises or pay business rates you may not qualify.  There are regular updates and a call for more help to assist freelancers and sole traders so do keep following the advice. 
  • We would like to thank you for your ongoing support and loyalty to Eventrac and look forward to helping you promote and grow your events in the future.

*The information contained in this communication has been taken from third party  sources at the time of writing and is shared in good faith for our organisers. However we advise that you substantiate the current advice before taking decisions that may affect your business as we cannot guarantee that the content is accurate or topical going forward. 

On Hand To Help

The team at eventrac are on hand to assist with all components of your event. From advice on promoting your event through low cost channels such as social media, to a guided tutorial on a specific feature of eventrac. We are here to help.

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