ExCeL London has said it is still working with a small number of clients which have been affected by event disruption as a result of Covid-19, after The Sunday Times reported that the venue is continuing to charge its clients licence fees during the ban on social gatherings.
The paper alleges that conference organisers [as opposed to exhibition organisers] have been told that licence fees, which cover the use of the venue but not extras, such as staff, will still be payable if their event is forced to cancel or postpone as a result of Covid-19.
A statement released by the East London venue said it remains “totally committed” to supporting its customers.
“Event gatherings have been banned for the foreseeable future and consequently our teams have been managing a huge rescheduling programme, moving over 70 large-scale events that have been affected by coronavirus, at no further cost,” the statement read.
“There are still ongoing discussions with a small number of clients who remain affected and we understand that this is a hugely challenging time for them. We are working with those customers to find suitable solutions, as quickly as possible. ExCeL is a long-term events partner and will approach the solutions with our clients with this foremost in our minds.”
ExCeL London, which is owned by the UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (ADNEC), was the first major UK venue to be turned into a hospital. The 4,000-bed NHS Nightingale, which is operating rent free, was transformed in nine days with the help of venue staff, event contractors, and the military.
Multiple events have been cancelled or postponed at venues all over the country, with organisers and venues working together to reschedule. Due to the high number of events that take place in the UK each year, contributing £70bn to the UK economy, it is inevitable that it will take time to finalise agreements between individual stakeholders.
It has been suggested that the government allow the building of temporary structures in Royal Parks and on commons across the UK to house events which have lost their slots as a result of Covid-19, emphasising the importance of the sector to the national economy.