How Inntel helped this major UK charity to accommodate vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding problems

As the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic became more apparent and lockdown started, hotels were
forced to make the tough decision whether to close or or remain open for keyworker accommodation. The accommodation options available to our clients was changing by the day and often by the hour.

The hotels which remained open could only accept reservations for keyworkers and were closing onsite facilities like restaurants or only offering food that required little preparation. There was one instance of a guest having to move properties 3 times in one week as a result of the hotels taking the decision to close.

Our client, The British Red Cross, was spending a lot of time calling accommodation options to check whether they were open and accepting bookings. This was taking hours of time and also used vital resources which were needed elsewhere for essential tasks.

The solution

Inntel gathered as much information from the charities’ different divisions as possible. It was difficult to establish the level of demand required and in which locations. We were working on a worst case scenario number of guests.

We worked closely with our network of national supply partners to ask for their availability, to confirm which venues could help and what services they could offer in terms of food and laundry facilities. Many hotels had closed their online distribution systems as they were only accepting keyworker bookings.

A database of venues was created and updated regularly by the Supplier Partnerships Team, which contained all the details and contact information required to make bookings. Many of our partners supported our client by giving them access to discounted rates. IHG agreed to give The British Red Cross, the NHS discounted rate during the lock down period.

The process was then simple for Inntel to carry out the search, make the booking, organise the payment and send the confirmation to the client.

The process

Over the last 5 months Inntel have placed over 1,300 bed nights for The British Red Cross. Inntel have been reporting to The British Red Cross on a weekly basis to allow them to ensure budgets are allocated and spend is closely monitored.

The British Red Cross has a long history of supporting people in crisis, and the current Coronavirus pandemic (Covid 19) in the UK has presented everyone with new challenges how to help the most vulnerable people in our communities.

When it became evident that our ability to source temporary accommodation presented too many challenges we approached Inntel to help in identifying and exploring different options.

Their team assisted the streamlining of the booking process, and secured agreements for hotel accommodation for our key workers, and those most at risk in our communities.

Radmila Fortune-West
UK Development and Fundraising Adviser Refugee Support and Restoring Family Links