[updated 19th October 2020)


Culture Recovery Grant 


We are incredibly grateful and fortunate to have been successful in our bid for the Government's Culture Recovery Grant. This was announced at midnight on Friday 16th October and we are currently in the process of updating our plans (whilst we await the funds) to ensure we deliver on the promises of our application. 


With that in mind, the details of this help article are still relevant but will be updated as soonany new plans begin to be implemented. 


Thank you for your support and understanding during these incredibly challenging times.



Skeleton Service


As outlined in this article, sadly, TheatreDigsBooker currently operates with a skeleton, external team and we currently have heavily-reduced customer support available due to the coronavirus crisis.


If you have already contacted us regarding a cancellation or a refund, your email may not be replied to directly but when normal operation resumes, all edited and cancelled bookings will automatically be added to the queue for processing in order of the date made.




Cancelled Bookings and Refunds - Update





If you are a Host and you need to cancel or edit a booking:


We encourage all Hosts to cancel/edit their own bookings directly via the site. You can do this by logging in here, clicking 'Bookings' and clicking the 'Edit' button. 

These help articles are available to guide you:'


Once you have edited or cancelled the booking, our system will be notified and any refund or adjustment to the deposit amount will be entered into our queue. There is no need to send additional emails. We will get to your bookings as soon as we possibly can.




If you are a Guest and need to cancel or edit a booking:


For Guests who need to cancel bookings please log in here, click 'Bookings' and click 'Cancel' on the respective booking. 

These help articles are available to guide you:

 'What If I Need To Cancel A Booking With A Host?'.


If you need to edit a booking, please message the Host via the site and ask them to make the changes you need.


Once you have edited or cancelled the booking, our system will be notified and any refund or adjustment to the deposit amount will be entered into our queue. There is no need to send additional emails. We will get to your bookings as soon as we possibly can.



FAQs


As a company founded and run by touring theatre professionals we know that cancellations happen from time to time. 


Throughout our 10 years in operation we’ve always refunded deposits for cancelled bookings, even though our standard terms and conditions state that deposits are non-refundable once the booking is accepted by the Host.


At the present time we are doing everything in our power to ensure deposits are returned (or passed on to the Host where requested) but due to the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, our operations have been brought to an abrupt standstill.

 

Here are some frequently asked questions and our best attempt to answer them:




  • Why do you need to temporarily delay refunds?


We are a small business with only six employees and a tight cash flow. We budget for 10-15% of refunds each month and maintain a buffer of several times that to allow for any 'spikes'.


The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in 100% refund requests at a time when our revenue has been reduced to nothing, almost overnight. 


Similar to airlines and travel companies who are offering vouchers in place of cash refunds, we also need a ‘delay measure’ in place to ensure the survival of the business. Only by ensuring the future of Theatre Digs Booker can we work to honour all deposits. 



  • When will I get my deposit?


Our plan is to start paying out deposits by date, starting with the earliest booking requests first, as soon as we have funds to do so. We are exploring all possible avenues of raising funds to ensure this happens as quickly as possible.  


  • Can I use my deposit for future bookings?


Yes. If you make bookings you can use your previous deposit against your new booking.


Our system doesn’t currently let you transfer a deposit from one booking to another and, with our developers and remaining staff furloughed, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to fix this in the short term. 


  1. However, with your understanding we can make this work in practice. 


As and when you make a booking and pay the deposit for the new booking, we will manually refund your old deposit to you, in effect transferring the credit of your previous deposit to your new booking. The new deposit just has to be equal to or greater than your previous deposit.


Here are two examples of how this will work (assuming the Host passes the deposit onto the Guest):

  1. If a Guest pays a deposit of £20 and we hold the deposit for another booking worth £20, we will refund the ‘delayed’ deposit straight away. Just email support@theatredigsbooker.com to flag this for us to ensure it doesn't get missed - at least until we get this new process bedded in.
  2. If a Guest has two cancelled bookings each with a £20 deposit, totalling £40 of delayed refunds and makes a booking for 2021 amounting to £300 (£30 deposit), we will process the oldest booking and the Guest would receive £20.


  • Can I move a cancelled booking to a future date?


Yes! We have just launched a new feature that allows us to change the 'state' of a booking from 'cancelled' to 'accepted' so that those Guests who have had dates postponed can keep their booking with the Host they originally chose by simply liaising with the Host and emailing us.

If you have bookings that could be moved to a future date with the same Host, please 

  1. Message the Host to check they are able to accept your booking for the new dates
  2. Email support@theatredigsbooker.com with the booking IDs and future dates 


We can make the adjustments for you and email confirmation to both parties.

The original deposit will remain valid for the future dates (unless already refunded).

If you don't know the exact dates, you can ask to move the dates to a mutually agreeable future date and the Host can adjust the dates themselves as soon as new dates are confirmed.


  • How can you withhold my deposit?


Whilst the term ‘deposit’ can be confusing, the general principle is that the deposit acts to the Host as a confirmation of the Guest’s intention to book and is refundable up until the moment the Host accepts the booking. Once the booking is accepted, our service of introducing the Guest to the Host is complete and we retain that proportion of the total booking value (10% including VAT) as commission from the Host. The Guest (or theatre industry) has never been charged to use our services.


Clause 1.iii of the Terms and Conditions states:


' ...Once the booking is confirmed by the Host, the contract between Theatre Digs Booker Limited and the Guest is complete and the service has been provided. As such, Guests have no right to cancel their contract with Theatre Digs Booker Limited after this time and the Deposit becomes non-refundable...'


Importantly, in 10 years of operating, we have never implemented this clause and we don't intend to now. 


  • Where do I stand legally/with Equity?


Purely from a legal standpoint, as per our T&Cs, once a Host accepts a booking, deposits become non-refundable commission. Therefore legally, we are within our rights to retain those payments. Equity are fully aware of the situation (that there is nothing they can do due to transparent terms of the site) and ask you to direct any questions not answered here, to us directly and leave Equity to continue to do their incredibly important work of helping the industry survive this global crisis.


  • What are you doing to help?


We're doing everything we can in the current climate to ensure our survival including securing additional lending, seeking out grants and furloughing remaining staff to retain funds. 

 

Thankfully, we have been able to secure a government-backed ‘Bounce Back’ loan and a grant to support small businesses and these funds will be enough to keep the business running while we wait for the theatre industry to start touring again.


We are also reviewing our insurance, cancellation, deposit and commission processes to ensure we mitigate future risk in similar circumstances.



  • Other companies refunded everyone - why can’t you?


Whilst we can’t really comment on how other businesses operate, in a recent announcement by the Founder of AirBnB to his staff, they announced that they raised ‘$2 billion in capital’ which they are able to do because of their enormous future value - currently estimated at $41bn. 


They are also global, not restricted to one small industry, charge 100% at the time of booking, charge bookings fees, cleaning fees and operate complex dynamic and seasonal pricing systems that are designed to charge as much as the market can afford. By comparison, we have one fee which hasn’t increased since it was introduced in 2013 - in fact it went down when we became liable for VAT. Rather than pass it on we quietly absorbed the cost.

Decisions like that, where we always put our community first, keep our profits low and are why (so far) we have not been able to raise more than the bare minimum to survive.



  • My Host has requested to keep the deposit. Can you help?


The plight of most theatre professionals is very evident but Hosts are within their rights to request the booking deposit by way of some small compensation for the loss of the booking revenue. A higher proportion of Hosts than normal appear to be requesting deposits and it is clear that everyone is negatively affected by this crisis. The Host makes the ‘deposit decision’ only when we start to process refunds so decisions regarding deposits have not yet been made.



  • How do you plan to return to normal service?


As revenue starts to return, our services will gradually return but in the meantime, we are exploring every option to bring about a faster return of revenue.



  • Doesn't your insurance cover this?


No. Even companies which have business interruption insurance or similar policies that include pandemics are being refused payout as Covid-19 is not listed or because they were not ordered to close by the Government. 



  • How often will you update us?


Whenever something changes and at least one a month, we aim to update this article.



  • What other help is available?


The government has launched £1.57bn Arts Support Package.


SOLT and UK Theatre have launched a Theatre Artists Fund.


https://theatresupport.info/ has gathered together support for theatre professionals during coronavirus.


Equity has a number of support options available on its Coronavirus Support Pages.


Also the Royal Variety Charity has a grant application form on its website.


More general help can be found on the Government's coronavirus webpage.




If your question is not answered above or in any other help article, please email support@theatredigsbooker.com and we will try to respond as quickly as possible and add the answer here.


By working together, in good faith, we will all be able to get through this painful time and quickly return to normal service once it has all passed. 


Thank you for your understanding and patience. Stay well.

Phil Barley and the TheatreDigsBooker Team