Today we are catching up with Tristan Cousin, Head of Operations for Haute Route, and Julie Royer Coutts, CEO, to better understand how the Haute Route is preparing to run events in the new Covid-19 driven world.
Julie: It goes without saying that the event industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and a huge number of sporting events have been cancelled in 2020. As an event organiser, we always have Plan B, C and D ready for whatever is thrown at us at the last minute. But with Covid-19, I think it is fair to say we have all been caught off-guard. Early in the year, all our energy was put into dealing with the cancellation of events and making sure we were supporting all our riders during this process. It has no doubt been a challenging few months, but now it’s time to look ahead and get ready for the future. We are more determined than ever to give our riders the ultimate experience and are completely focused on making sure every part of that experience allows them to have their mind at ease and focus on what they love to do. We are really looking forward to our two remaining events in 2020 - Haute Route Ventoux and Haute Route Mexico - and we have been working with government guidelines and expert authorities to ensure we can provide a Covid-safe environment for our riders, suppliers and staff, and still deliver all the support and services that makes the Haute Route so special.
Tristan: As this has become one of our highest priorities, we have worked to bring together a huge number of reports and guidelines, as well as recommended processes made available by medical experts and governing bodies. Our focus at the moment is to understand all of this information and decide the very best way for us to implement this into our events. We’re thoroughly assessing each and every one of these recommendations and working with experts to ensure all areas of our events are within these guidelines. From distributing bibs, to startline processes, feed stations, prize-giving ceremonies and everything in between, every aspect of the event is being studied. Riders love the Haute Route because of the attention to detail, and this aspect of the event will be no exception. We are working hard to ensure we can provide the same level of service riders are used to, with a safe environment where they can focus on what matters. Masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing has become the norm for many of us and will be the absolute strict minimum when it comes to any event. However, we wanted to go much further in the protection of our riders to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Julie: It seems that we are not far away from a vaccine that should allow us to look into the future with total confidence. Regardless, the Haute Route is a unique event with a limited number of entries available for each event. With a maximum capacity of 500 riders per event, our Haute Route events are not huge gatherings and do not represent the same risk as some other events. After working so hard putting together these new measures, we feel we can confidently deliver a Covid-safe platform for our riders. Our dedication to safety and support is part of our DNA and has been since the creation of the Haute Route in 2011.
However, we know there is still a risk that Covid-19 could impact our 2021 season and force us to cancel some of our events or mean that some of our riders are unable to attend. We have worked with specialist consultant over the last few months to adapt our Sales Conditions and make sure we can provide as much flexibility as possible to our riders.
New in 2021, it is now possible for a rider to cancel their participation to an event with no specific reason. Depending on the date of cancellation, cancellation fees will apply in order to cover organiser expenses.
Also new in 2021, riders who are unable to travel due to Covid-19 will benefit from maximum flexibility and will be able to reallocate their entry to a different event of their choosing. We have recently developed an e-wallet, allowing riders to freely use their ‘credit’ in their customer account.
In the case that an event is cancelled due to Covid-19, 100% of the riders will receive the cost of their registration as credit to use on another event.
Following a challenging start to 2020, the Haute Route is focused on providing a new standard of services that will allow its riders to experience everything the events have become famous for in the new post-Covid-19 world. As always, the number one priority before, during and after each event, is the ethos to allow riders to focus on what they love most, while the Haute Route team takes care of everything else.