Letter from our CEO - Published Sunday 22nd March 2020 11:40am

To our loyal customers and owners,

Firstly, thank you for your support as the team have navigated their way through these unprecedented times.

Over the past week the world has changed. A week ago myself and the team met in our offices to discuss how we were going to work on scenarios that may play out and how they would impact us as a business. We worked late into the night on Sunday, Monday and every day that followed this week, trying to keep all of our customers, owners and our members of staff up to date with the impact that coronavirus would have on us.

Every day those scenarios have changed. Every day we have reacted as best we can, as we’ve tried to keep pace with the changing advice in order to ensure we remain on top of the economic situation, as well as most importantly, ensuring we do everything in our power to keep everyone safe and do our bit for the health of the wider public and the national effort to fight coronavirus.

Increasingly this week, with continued lack of clarity on what the social distancing measures mean for self-catering cottages and despite us asking for that clarity from the Government, we are now realising that our friends in the community including health care professionals, police and other essential services, are now asking for us to help them by asking people to stop travelling on holiday in the near term.

Holidaycottages.co.uk (the Travel Chapter) Amended Coronavirus Position as of 22nd March

It is for this reason, this morning, we are ceasing taking new bookings for the period to 4th June 2020 and I am asking that any customer with a booking in one of the properties listed with us due to depart between now and 30th April 2020 defers their booking and moves it to a date later this year or to some time in 2021. At the same time, I am also asking all of our owners to continue to support us in deferring the dates. It may be that we need to extend this period at some point in the next few weeks, and I will continually review the situation.

For the past week, we have been allowing all customers with upcoming holidays to move their bookings should they wish to and many of you have (for those of you that have you do not need to contact us again). However, as the situation in the country continues to increase in severity, we now feel it is right to recommend this for all remaining bookings in the period to 30th April.

We hope you see that the above guidance is for the wider benefit of our society at this time.

Further Guidance for Property Owners

We are working on more detailed FAQs and will be sending these out to you as soon as we can. Our Property Management Team will then be on hand as normal to deal with any queries.

Further Guidance for Customers

We are updating our website and FAQs and these will be ready as soon as possible this morning.

The team will be receiving this news at the same time as you and will be on hand to support you but can I ask that where possible you refer to the website first and read our coronavirus FAQs to see if that answers your question, as we expect call volumes will be unmanageable. I also ask that when you speak to the team to amend your booking, you treat them with care, respect and compassion. This is a tough time for us all, and throughout this period they have been amazing; working around the clock to move bookings, reassure guests and help our owners. Our backlog of amendments is large, but we will get to each and every one of you.

Finally, as an employer of 317 people, working with 4,822 property owners and with many thousands more across the UK with their earnings linked to us, like the invaluable cleaners and caretakers on whom we all depend, a lot of people will no doubt be unsettled by this news, I want to reassure them that we will do what we can to help.

Myself and my team feel strongly that this is the right thing to do now and I’m grateful for your support with this difficult decision.

 

Jayne McClure – CEO