Negotiating UK COVID-19 Cancellation Policies

by Catalina Reano,

23 September 2020

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London is one of the event industry’s sweethearts. Many businesses from around the world plan their corporate events there. Thanks to its offers in accommodation, transport, prices, flexibility, culture, experience and variety it’s an attractive option.

England’s capital is one of the best-connected cities in the world. It has 6 airports and the Eurostar shuttling people back and forth to more than 400 destinations in a matter of hours. As a global tech hub and the financial capital of the world, London offers cutting-edge industry clusters and world-class talent in a variety of sectors. To top it all off, it has more than 2000 event venues and 140,000 hotels, making it an ideal destination for any event planner.

In these uncertain times, it’s not easy to plan ahead for any corporate event. While it’s true that the world is opening up again and many industries are starting to come out of hibernation, there is the fear of cancellations. Talks of a second wave have people and businesses scared to commit to plans.

But there’s no need to panic! Your business needs to grow and expand, and now is the time to do it.

Luckily, the UK has taken a very friendly approach to the consumer’s plight during the pandemic. They have issued some rules, called ‘Lockdown Laws’ to protect your purchases and bookings from unforeseeable events that could frustrate your plans.


This is another reason why planning your next event in London might be a masterful move. So how are your reservations (and your money) protected in case you need to cancel or reschedule your event due to the COVID crisis?


Am I entitled to a full refund?

In most cases, yes. If your venue or the business you have a contract with can’t deliver the agreed upon goods or services due to unforeseen events, then you are entitled to a refund for what you have already paid. This also applies when what they can deliver is radically different to what you had initially agreed on.

If the lockdown laws prevent you or your venue from delivering or receiving the services stated in the contract, then the contract can be cancelled and a refund should be issued.

If you have already received something of value, you may receive a partial refund. For example, if you are at a hotel and your original reservation was for 5 nights, but you need to check-out after only 3 due to lockdown or travel restrictions, you are entitled to a refund for the 2 nights that you did not stay at the hotel.

Some venues can offer you either a refund, voucher or credit for your next event or an option to reschedule. You can choose whichever you want. If you don’t see a refund as an option, ask for it. They are obligated to offer and are not allowed to pressure you into choosing what suits them most.


Can I reschedule my event? 

Some venues could cancel your event or reservation outright and refund you the money. They might not know when they can resume service so they may not want to make new contracts they cannot honour.

But a lot of spaces will offer you the possibility of rescheduling. Although it may be difficult to know when to reschedule, you can go ahead and leave your refund as a down payment for your event when the time finally comes. Be clear with your venue about the new contract and check that the same conditions apply. They may not be able to offer the same services so make sure that you’re aware of what they will be able to offer you in the future and if that fits in with your event.

If this venue is a long-term service provider, the doors could be open to some negotiation. Keep the friendly relationship going and try to find some middle ground where you both win. They are feeling the effects of the pandemic as much as you are, so give them some flexibility to adapt to the new realities of the industry without sacrificing quality service for your event.

Let them see that you are willing to work together to find the perfect time for your event. That way, they will be more willing to put in that extra effort to make it top notch. They’ll have you on their calendar and it will be a welcome bit of business. 


Don’t let lockdown stop your plans

The UK has some of the best consumer protection laws in place, so it’s definitely one of the best locations to set your sights on for your corporate events. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that time is precious and none of it should be wasted. So don’t put your events calendar on pause, go and get planning! A cancellation is always a possibility, but it’s not necessarily going to happen – so don’t cry over tragedies that haven’t happened yet and get to London!

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