What's new for hospitality premises in 2014?

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Businesses to consider their 'Vaping' policies.

Whether the emerging craze for "vaping" continues to avoid legislation remains to be seen, but certainly the e-cigarette market seems to have taken off. 

Did you know World Vaping Day is on March 22nd? I am increasingly asked whether it is legal for customers to vape in pubs, restaurants and hotel rooms. There is currently no regulation which prevents a person from vaping anywhere. It is entirely a matter for the discretion of the owner of the premises.   

As a business you therefore have a decision to make whether to allow it or not. With smokers converting in their 1000's I would suggest now is the time to make it,  if you have not already done so.

The pros and cons are numerous so I suggest speaking to both your staff and customers, also look what your competitors are doing. For example, JD Wetherspoon prohibit e-cigarettes in all their venues.

Owners question the difficulty in staff being able to tell a smoker from a vaper and thus possible confrontation with customers. Others fear that non-vaper customers will perceive the vaper as intrusive as the smoker, particularly where food is served. 

Whatever your decision,  make sure there is a clear policy which is then communicated to your staff. Tell them if it's allowed and if so, where it is permitted throughout the premises.  

If you are going to allow vaping,  are you going to source stock to sell to your customers and how will you advertise it?  There is much to consider.

Licensing changes in 2014

On the alcohol and entertainment side there are further changes to the Licensing Act coming in 2014 to boost the hospitality business. We can expect to see a removal of the requirement to renew personal licences to sell alcohol. 

There is some talk of scrapping personal licences altogether, but I doubt that will happen.  Personal licences are granted for 10 years and there is an application and fee to renew it – this will go - which means any Personal Licence remains in force until revoked.

Hopefully by April 2014, the number of Temporary Event notices that a licensed premises may give will be increased from 12 to 15 in a calendar year,  giving a greater flexibility. 

The Live Music Act, which permits live amplified and unamplified music between 8am and 11pm without a licence for certain premises, is being further relaxed to increase the audience limit from 200 to 500.  It will also permit recorded music without a premises licence for those times and capacities.

There may be the introduction of Ancillary Seller Notices, where you can supply alcohol as an ancillary part of the business. For example a Bed and Breakfast operator who would like to leave the guests a bottle of wine in their room to enjoy during the evening.

This will be a much more cost effective way to do so.

Much to look forward to in 2014 then. We will post full details of all the legislative changes on our website once they are confirmed.

My final thought for you is this. Make sure you spend time each week checking and editing your social media and presence on the internet. Everyone should maximise the use of social media to promote their businesses, Facebook, Twitter et al. 

I believe social media is the best way to build customer following, loyalty and recommendations. Beware however, it is not just your customers who search.

I have dealt with several cases recently where the police have adduced evidence in licensing review hearings of posts and pictures from the premises social media sites. I have also had a case where a competitor of a client was posting false reports on Trip Adviser.