We’re now in the fourth week of UK Government enforced lockdown, it has of course been a testing time for the entire nation, let alone our small part of it in the entertainment industry.
We’re an industry that has been hit particularly hard, given that we rely so heavily on the movement and gathering of people. This has had a huge impact on many of our friends and colleagues, whether they be event organisers, production managers, right down to the students who rely on temporary summer roles to top up their student loans.
There can be no one reading this who would deny that the situation is a mess and a monumental challenge – and that includes all of us here at Skiddle.
Over the past few weeks, we have experienced a massive shift in workload at Skiddle, with our Customer Care team inundated with enquiries and our Account Support team working alongside our Finance department to provide as smooth an experience as possible for your and our customers.
We’ve had to completely rebuild our phone system from the ground up so that all of our operatives can work safely from home, and create several new systems behind the scenes (video conferencing is the new norm, and not having a shave for a week is also now acceptable) to ensure the huge number of event cancellations are handled in an effective way.
Naturally, our income has plummeted, so we have taken measures to furlough staff who have a reduced workload at present.
Here’s a quick rundown of the steps we’ve implemented so far to help:
- Moved our entire team to work from home, with no reduction in front line staff (Account Support and Customer Care).
- Taken steps to encourage customers to retain their tickets for rescheduled events wherever possible.
- Withdrawn the option to claim a refund while a new date is still being confirmed (for a period up to 28 days), unless requested by the event organiser.
- Ensuring all customers who have purchased tickets through Skiddle are being contacted at least every seven days with an update on their event.
- Improved visibility of information regarding cancelled events on our website and mobile app.
- Made contact with banks and financial advisors to obtain information that we can pass onto event promoters who are struggling financially.
- Launched a new landing page for virtual & online events, bringing together live streams and virtual events for our audience.
- Extended our Cool:Off service – more info below.
So, are we going to survive?
Good question. Yes we are. For starters, we never touch promoter’s ticket money to use for our own needs. It was a decision we made when we first began selling tickets in 2006, and it’s one we have never strayed from. Our remittance account holds your funds only, and while it is becoming severely depleted as we return money to customers, we never have and never will use it for our own operating expenses.
Currently, our main challenge is ensuring that customers are kept informed and happy, while supporting our promoters to keep themselves and their events afloat. Your continued cooperation with this is much appreciated.
Although times are hard (if not impossible for some at the moment), it still remains your legal responsibility to offer refunds if your event is cancelled or postponed. We’re keeping a close eye on Government announcements to see if they follow the lead set by some other European countries in allowing the issue of vouchers as opposed to cash refunds, and have been lobbying our MP for such changes. But for now, nothing here has changed.
As mentioned above, we have taken a number of steps to actively encourage customers to hold on to their tickets, and this is working very effectively to reduce the number of refunds. However, there is a clear requirement for customers to receive money back should they request it. Although we do publicise a seven-day refund window, ultimately, customers are legally entitled to a refund up until the date of the rescheduled event.
Therefore, should your event be marked as cancelled or postponed on Skiddle, once a new date is confirmed (or after 28 days), if the relevant funds are held on the account we will make it possible for customers to request a refund for seven days.
If the customer requests a refund after those seven days, but before 14 days, through missing the email or technical issues, we will then manually issue a refund and notify you.
Outside of this 14 day window, we will contact you with the customer’s details and ask your permission to issue a refund. Although you may choose to refuse, this does not stop the customer using the chargeback process, for which there is no defence. This could ultimately cost you more money to process, so we strongly recommend accepting any refund requests.
Please note, our priority is to reduce the risk of chargebacks reaching you. This is usually a last resort for a customer. The best way to minimise these, is to keep customers informed as much as possible, confirm rescheduled dates quickly, and issue any refunds promptly.
Our usual fee for processing each chargeback is £30 inc. VAT, which reflects the charges we incur, plus our admin time. Until further notice, we have reduced this cost to just £15 inc. VAT, in order to reduce the financial strain on our promoters.
When we do reach the other side of the COVID-19 situation, we can already sense a boom coming. We don’t know how big, or for how long, but people will want to go out. Already, over 2000 events on Skiddle have new dates scheduled for later in the year, and as well as moving existing orders, we are starting to see customer confidence return with new purchases for these later dates.
The Coronavirus will not be around forever, and when it has passed Skiddle will be ready.
Our development team is still working hard on our new Promotion Centre which, when ready, will make promoting your events and selling tickets via Skiddle even smoother. We’re also taking this opportunity to refresh areas of the website and mobile app to improve the experience for both customers and promoters.
In 2016, we launched Cool:Off; the event industry’s first refund window. This offers customers a 72-hour window to claim a refund if their circumstances change, with no questions asked. This initiative proved hugely successful, boosting event sales by up to 22%, thanks to reduced customer uncertainty. (Did we mention it was an award-winning move? We probably should have.)
To help boost sales during this uncertain time, we’re now offering promoters the opportunity to extend this 72-hour window, as they please. This means you can push events taking place later in the year to your customers right now, giving them confidence that should they become ill, or change their plans, they won’t be left out of pocket.
We’re proposing that the Cool:Off window is extended to 28 days, as we believe this will strongly encourage consumer confidence and thus sales for your events. Get in touch if you’d like to enable this on your event.
We’ve also put together a few links below that you may find useful, including information about government financial support schemes that you may be eligible for:
As event organisers ourselves, we know and understand the difficult position you’re currently experiencing, and you have our deepest sympathies and fullest support during this testing time.
But know that we face these testing times together, and we’re here to help you in any way we can. This will pass, and we look forward to selling out your events once more on the other side.
Thanks for reading and please take care,
Rich & Ben