Lessons from the UK: reopening the night time industries

Tuesday 14 September 2021

During this webinar, our Chair, Justine Baker, chatted all things reopening with Michael Kill, CEO of Night Time Industries Association in the UK.
Justine and Mike covered a lot of ground, from the Pingdemic, to vaccine passports, rapid testing, events insurance, and the shortages that COVID has caused – in labour, confidence and even toilets!
There were some valuable lessons for us to learn from the UK, particularly as Australia’s two largest cities prepare to emerge from lockdown and rebuild as quickly and safely as possible.
You can watch the full video here, or read the key themes below.

Lessons from the UK: Reopening night time industries

Key Themes 

Customers and financial planning are the keys to success in reopening 

Strategies should focus on customer loyalty, differentiated service levels and the creation of memorable experiences to draw consumers back out – and entice them to stay out.

Consumers have had the world brought to their homes, including their workplaces. To improve night-time trade, particularly in business districts, the City of London has implemented a “Let’s do London” campaign to encourage visitation, social and cultural engagement.

Strategies should also be focused on safeguarding the future of businesses by creating financial stability first and foremost. Mike’s advice is for businesses to minimise investment to the point where they have to commit – then go for it! Especially if it means future-proofing your business through mechanisms that will help to sustain and monetise, even if lockdowns and restrictions return.

Vaccine passports are not the only way to protect people and mitigate risks 

The vastly different (and inconsistent) regulatory context in the UK has created a divisive environment, with risk mitigation being placed in the hands of the people and operators rather than the government implementing clear regulations. And this has shattered confidence across the industries.

The threat of mandated vaccine passports for only nightclubs, venues and larger events/festivals caused some aggression, much confusion as well as market distortion (e.g. bars masquerading as nightclubs and illegal warehouse parties).

The NTIA UK has advocated for an all-or-nothing rule for vaccine passports. And it has implored the government to consider the long-term social, cultural and racial ramifications of inconsistent passport systems – as well as the logistical challenges in implementing passports. Why should operators bear the burden?

According to Mike, negative testing for staff and customers upon entry has been working well since “Freedom Day”, as well as proof of natural antibodies – though there are some privacy concerns with sharing personal health records and there have been issues with forged test results and vaccination passports.

Sanitisation and ventilation have also played important roles, as well as staff and customer training and communication – to ensure clean, safe and managed environments. The UK Government has provided guidelines to operators and simply allowed them to pick and choose what to implement.

 

Protecting and valuing staff and suppliers is critical to ensuring sustainability 

The UK has seen shortages across the ecosystem – from workers, to Co2 for beer taps, to toilets, and to event infrastructure.

It has been a “perfect storm” with both the pandemic and Brexit causing labour shortages across the board, from service staff to security – with many leaving our shut-down industries and now reluctant to return, preferring more sociable hours, more financial stability, better safety and job security in essential services industries instead. This has resulted in many night time businesses not being able to reopen.

Plus, the Pingdemic further perpetuated the labour crunch and restricted the potential of businesses.

Food for thought as we embark on our own reopening here in Australia!