Frustration in industry as government moves May bank holiday

Next year’s early May bank holiday will be moved back by four days – causing headaches in the events industry.

May Day, which is traditionally held on the first Monday in May, has been put back to Friday 8 May 2020 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

However, the government’s announcement of the change with less than a year’s notice has meant that many in the industry have seen their forward bookings and events affected.

Derek Collie, organiser for the Round Table and Ladies Circle National Conference, said the change has had a “significant impact” on his event.

“We are expecting around 500 members to come to our annual AGMs,” he said. “This year it’s happening in Essex and was due to run into the bank holiday Monday with a music festival theme.

“This event has been in the planning for nine months already and we started to sell tickets in early May 2019 so the notice of this change has been challenging to say the least.

“Our suppliers have been fantastically understanding and we’ve been able to shorten the event slightly to run from Friday- Sunday but of course that’s bound to have an effect on those that are willing to travel, especially those that have to work on the Friday – teachers especially – and we hope it won’t have a huge impact on numbers but only time will tell.”

Matthew Hancock, sales and marketing manager for Windsor venue Cumberland Lodge, said: “We had three bookings (two Thursday to Friday and one Friday to Sunday) and we have had to change all three bookings to alternative dates. This has created more work for both us and the client. The client especially, as they had these dates in the diary, and are having to now contact their participants to inform them of the date change to their event – this includes printed literature that has already been published.

“We feel as a venue that the government has not given sufficient notice about the date change. It does seems bizarre considering they did the same thing 25 years ago, so one thinks they should have had the foresight to plan for this with more notice.”

The May Day bank holiday has been moved once before when it was moved back a week in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of VE Day.

Kim Cavilla, chief operating officer at Venues & Events International, said: “Whilst we totally appreciate and respect the sentiment behind the reasons for changing the date, it does feel very short notice and my heart goes out to event planners who now have a massive and quite unnecessary challenge on their hands.

“The hotel industry is going to have to come up with a very measured response to this, they are naturally going to take a hit on conference business but going all guns blazing with cancellation charges could be very damaging for relationships – here’s hoping the leisure market can make up the gap.”

Have you been affected by the change of dates of the early May bank holiday in 2020? Let us know your thoughts