OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING COVID-19
INSPIRE TO ASPIRE EVENTS LIMITED
28TH JULY 2020
Update to all guests affected by events postponed due to Covid-19.
We have been updating guests as the situation changes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this is our most recent update and will now remain the companies position until February 2021.
As lockdown measures began to ease this week we saw the U.K. government relax restrictions on certain areas of the economy. Sadly live performances still remain banned with no timeframe on when they are allowed to resume. The entertainment sector requires certainty in order to operate due to the sheer upfront costs that are required to plan and execute a national tour. This week we saw another blow to the leisure sector throwing tourism into chaos with all of Spain now added to the UK’s travel ban. We have also seen a local lockdown in Leicester with measures introduced literally within hours.
Our CEO and board of directors have been working to put together a short, medium and long term plan for how ITAE plans to deal with, and manage the COVID-19 pandemic sustainably into the future. This COVID-19 Management Plan forms our approved strategy and may change in response to government announcements.
We have been liaising with our stakeholders, investors, Barclays Banking Group and Trading Standards to ensure we effectively communicate this strategy to our customers. In line with Trading Standards' specific advice, it is essential that the strategy is communicated to our customers. There have been a number of changes to the law to enable ITAE to continue trading, the directors and all parties involved have successfully stabilised the business in the short term, with the medium and longer term strategy now ready for publication.
The COVID-19 Management Plan
ITAE has taken the decision to postpone all live shows through until July 2021. The economic landscape is too volatile and uncertain to organise any tour with the risk of local lockdowns imposed unannounced. Any attempt to arrange a tour would further undo the efforts of the directors to stabilise the business and remain trading. The sole focus of this plan is to achieve the below objective:
To continue the company trading in the short term (until 15th November 2020) such that in the medium term (by February 2021) the company survives the devastating financial impact of the pandemic such that it can generate sufficient revenue that in the long term (by June 2021) can recover its losses and refund customers for events cancelled by the government imposed closure of live events.
All shows and events scheduled to take place between now and July 2021will be postponed and rearranged in next year from July onwards. Under this plan this is subject to the relaxation of social distancing measures and the Prime Minister's statement outlining a hopeful return to normality by Christmas 2020.
Tour locations and dates will be announced and published on 20th February 2021 and released for general sale via the appropriate website and tickets will automatically be transferred to these events for all customers. Those guests whom completed the refund request form before the deadline in March (and therefore eligible for a refund) will be able to claim a refund for the face value of their tickets (less any booking fees) within the refund window which will open 30 days prior to the rescheduled event. Customers with booking fee protection will be eligible for a refund of their booking fees. Any such refund will be reversed to the debit or credit card used to purchase tickets within 5 working days. The process (mechanism) by which refunds can be claimed will be communicated by email to guests affected on the 31st March 2021. Guests whom did not complete the refund request form will be eligible for a ticket transfer only. Guests who exchange tickets for digital content (by consent) before 31st March 2020 will not be eligible for a refund or transfer.
It is important to remember that nobody forsaw this global pandemic and managing this situation has been challenging. Nowhere in our business model did we plan for the possibility of completely shutting down and cancelling all events indefinitely with no notice. No insurance policy covers refunding 100% of revenue due to a pandemic. The business has also absorbed huge losses running to hundreds of thousands of pounds as a consequence of the governments actions and has received very little support. It is only due to the fast action of our dedicated management team that the business has been saved to this point and is now well on a trajectory to being able to reimburse customers in line with the time frames set out within this plan. We understand that this may be disappointing to some guests but it is important that we are realistic and honest with our customers.
Positively, we have changed our stance from no refunds at all, to being able to open a refund window ahead of rescheduled events due to the business now on a stable footing going forwards. We want the best possible outcome for everybody involved and to steer through avoiding a complete collapse. We are now changing our business model in the short and medium term to produce online digital content, this will ensure the business remains viable and can survive to resume live tours later next year. All revenue generated will be used to build up a fund to reimburse customers, we anticipate this fund being ready in advance of the resumption of our live tours. This strategy has been well planned and stress tested for viability with testing showing very positive outcomes. While the immediate threat of insolvency has been mitigated, the very real and alternative option would be to place the company immediately into administration, the sale of assets in the current climate would be insufficient to raise any significant capital which would in turn leave hundreds of customers without refund or a live show -something that we are keen to avoid. Any immediate surge for refunds could trigger the business entering administration jeopardising the stablity of the business leaving all guests without refund, digital content or live event. Your appreciated patience and support is helping avoid this very real and possible situation.
As we produce digital content we will allow customers to ‘exchange’ their event tickets for online digital experiences if they so wish which have the same cash value.
The Murder Trial Live Ticket Holders
All Murder Trial Live ticket holders were offered ’The Jury’ complimentary as a good will gesture.
All existing ticket holders now have the opportunity to claim ’The Black Widow’ for up to 12 households (worth £480), in exchange for their event tickets.
Accepting and logging in to www.themurdertrialive.com The Black Widow, will complete the ticket exchange for all tickets on your order. You accept that you will not be entitled to a refund or ticket transfer to an event in 2021. You may claim access to digital content for up to 12 households.
Anatomy Lab Live Contagion Ticket Holders
All existing ticket holders will have the opportunity to claim a free 12 month subscription to Anatomy Lab Live digital content in exchange for your existing event ticket.
By logging in to the channel on www.anatomylablive.com you activate your account, your ticket has been exchanged and you accept that you will not be entitled to a refund or ticket transfer to a future event.
The VIVIT Experience Ticket Holders
All existing ticket holders had the opportunity to claim a The Post-Mortem Live series 1 completely as a good will gesture.
We are now offering Series 2 in exchange for the existing event ticket. By logging into series 2 on www.thepostmortemlive.com you activate your account, your ticket has been exchanged and you accept that you will not be entitled to a refund or ticket transfer to a future event.
With this plan now published we hope this will give some certainty and clarity to affected customers, it will go someway to explaining the situation and provide a timeframe by when people can expect to receive services from us. Unless there is a significant change to this plan we will not provide updates ahead of the times set out.
We will email all ticket holders to advise of new locations and dates in February next year. We strongly advise that you ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added as a 'contact' to your email provider to ensure any further emails do not go into your SPAM. Please note that this inbox is not manned and you will not receive a response to any email sent to this inbox.
Finally, the creative arts is a sector being hit very hard at present with no government support. We simply do not have the finances at present to begin offering refunds as the majority of ticket revenue was spent and committed to assets which have been placed into storage as well as a number of contracts that have been signed and paid in advance. The company has already sustained financial losses totalling almost £250,000, with this in mind an easy option would have been to place the company into insolvency and abdicated any responsibility for the liabilities and losses due to COVID-19. Many businesses have opted to do this but not us. At ITAE our directors have fought on, lobbying MP's, liaising with stakeholders, battling negative PR against an all but impossible backdrop to save the business from collapse.
In line with modern business practices, and in the short to medium term, to keep costs to an absolute minimum we are not able to expand or comment on the COVID-19 management plan outside of this statement. ITAE looks very much smaller than it did prior to COVID-19 with staffing reduced in the short term by 80%. We have over 15,000 people to manage through this situation and are operating on 4 employees. We are all trying our best to ensure the best possible outcome for all involved and are very sorry that this situation is one that exists.
Our social media is managed by an external company on a paid up retained package and on a bot based scheduling system. All posts are automated and we are not directly responsible for the management of these accounts.
I have made it my personal mission to ensure that ITAE Group survives and is able to repair any harm or damage caused to our reputation by Corona-virus.