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HBAA to call on event planners to be flexible on SLAs

Event planners must be flexible with venues on service-level agreements (SLAs) according to the trade association for the UK meetings, events and accommodation industry, HBAA.

The organisation is calling for revisions of existing SLAs due to nationwide staff shortages and a huge rise in enquiries and bookings, but confirmations remain low.

Juliet Price, consultant executive director, HBAA, explained: “Many venues and businesses in our sector are opening and ready for business. However, the length of lockdowns, furlough hangover, redundancies, Brexit-related workforce departures and visa issues plus the lack of contracted bookings has led to significant numbers of people leaving key positions, resulting in a severe shortage of staff across the sector.

“Coupled with employees testing positive for Covid or being required to self-isolate, businesses are under immense pressure when faced with a surge in enquiries, bookings and the overwhelming demands of large-scale reopening, without any immediate income.

“At present, with the ongoing changes to government guidance, customers may require more handholding and assurances as we reignite their confidence around meeting in person. Venues are now also having to take time to re-evaluate capacities, catering options, delegate flow and indoor/outdoor facility options.  This adds pressure all round and has an impact on SLAs. It is vital that planners are open to temporarily adjusting SLAs during this challenging time and important for event organisers to understand that communication channels and response times may vary.”